Google and Amazon Launch Free Ad-Supported Music Services for Smart Speakers


Google and Amazon have announced two new music streaming services that will be offered for free to smart home speaker owners. The former has unveiled a new tier of YouTube Music designed for smart speakers, while the latter will offer a variation of its Prime Music paid subscription. Both are rolling out to U.S. customers now.

With the free version of YouTube Music on a Google Home, you can ask Google to play different playlists based on certain moods or artists. You can’t request a specific album, song, or playlist from your library. Similarly, the ad-supported freemium version of Prime Music on Amazon’s Echo speakers can only play a selection of top playlists. Neither of these choices are great, but it’s better than having no music to play on your smart speaker if you don’t currently pay for a subscription.

Earlier this week, Billboard broke the news that Amazon would introduce a free music streaming tier that would take on Spotify’s ad-supported subscription. Whether this new service will take on the biggest music streaming platform in the world is unclear, but I tend to doubt it since Amazon’s can only be used on Echo smart speakers.

On the contrary, I think Amazon’s new tier will better compete with YouTube’s. Ad-supported YouTube Music is available on any device you can download the app on, whether it’s your phone, tablet, or smart speaker. If Amazon wants to win at the free music streaming service race, it’ll need to make its own service more widely available. For now, it looks like it’ll be sticking to Echo devices alone, but I can’t imagine that lasting for too long.