Amazon Music, Your Marketing Sucks. Here’s How to Fix It.

Amazon Music: You're Doing It Too Confusingly
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Last week, DMN rated Amazon Music Unlimited a 10.  This week, we’re having trouble finding it.

Have you tried Amazon Music Unlimited?  It’s absolutely great.  The playlists make sense, the user interface is intuitive, and selection is great.

Amazon Music Unlimited has pretty much the same selection as Spotify and Apple Music.  But wait: Amazon Music just added Garth Brooks, they got him to end his ban on streaming.  So maybe they’re already crushing Spotify and Apple Music on selection.

In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that overall, Amazon Music is better than Spotify and Apple Music, combined.  That was my initial impression.  I guess Spotify and Apple have been making all the mistakes and correcting them.  Amazon just got the free learning and skipped the first ten classes.

I even got onto national television and said Amazon Music Unlimited ‘nailed it’.  And they did: this service rocks!

But the next day, I realized Amazon Music Unlimited was getting buried amongst five different competing products in aisle 17.  All of which are probably great as well.

But consumers are bad at picking among 5 great, but slightly different, products!  Why am I telling this to you, Amazon?

One thing I thought Amazon would get right is the marketing and product positioning.  After all, they’re the biggest online retail force in the entire universe.  So why is Amazon Music Unlimited such a marketing mess?

Problem #1: It’s impossible to find Amazon Music Unlimited in the pile of music offerings.

Unfortunately, Amazon has now cluttered its music offerings in a completely confusing manner.  For desktop listeners, they have a web player only, which means you have to navigate through Amazon’s page to get to your music collection.

I downloaded the Amazon Music Unlimited mobile app for my iPhone (6, that is).  That’s easy.  But when I’m at work or at home, I want to access it from my Mac.  That’s when the trouble really sets in!

Because I can’t remember where I put it!

How bad could that be?  THIS bad:


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You have to go through the entire supermarket to get to the cheese aisle.  That’s cool for supermarkets, but not when your competitors are hand-delivering the cheese 100 times faster to music fans.

So, just remember where you were, right?  WRONG.  Because once you navigate the gigantic supermarket to the cheese aisle, the selection makes no sense!  It’s like the Havarti is in the Swiss cheese wrapper, bundled with the Meunster.  All bundled with a Salami combination platter.

Do you think your loyal Amazon buyer is having fun working through this?

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I don’t know where to begin.  What’s the difference between ‘Included With Prime’ and ‘Prime Music’ for my Echo?  What is ‘Open Web Player,’ what does that do?

Wait: is ‘Digital Music Store’… should I get the ‘Amazon Music Apps’ (hint: please don’t go there)?  So ‘Prime Music’ isn’t ‘Unlimited’?

Amazon: Start by fixing the whole ‘Free/Included with Prime’ problem right now!

So, Amazon messed this one up, and refused to fix it.  They released a Prime-bundled version of their streaming music app before they launched their full-blown Amazon Music Unlimited with tens of millions of tracks.  I think ‘Included With Prime’ music (or whatever it’s called) has a few million songs, while ‘Amazon Music Unlimited’ has tens of millions.

‘Included With Prime’ is bundled in.  ‘Amazon Music Unlimited’ is $7.99 with Prime, but $9.99 without it.  And if you own an Echo throw ALL of that out the window.  Or that’s what I think it is.

Stop the madness Amazon!

A lot of people don’t even know what streaming is all about!  They’re not inside the tech music bubble.  They’re still making a mental break from downloading.  You’re sending people back three years!

My father is a loyal Prime subscriber.  I’m not going to burden him with the complicated breakdown.  It’s not fair.  Make it easy for him!  Why not smartly merge them into one thing?  Charge one price for one streaming service, maybe pre-existing Prime users get a free subscription for a year.

I don’t know. Figure it out.  Make streaming music on Amazon dead simple. Even bundle it with video. Because right now, it’s way too complicated.  You’re scaring people away.

Next problem: make a desktop app, FAST.

After you’re done simplifying these confusing streaming offerings, make an even easier desktop app.  Why doesn’t this exist?

Spotify has 40 million paying subscribers, and something like 120 million overall users.  They have a desktop app and a web-based offering.  They do this because people want both.  Spotify knows what they’re doing, because they’re focused on ONE thing all day, every day.

You want to beat Spotify right?  Your user interface is amazing.  It’s better than Spotify’s, which I didn’t think was possible.  Now go for the jugular!

Time to simplify ALL your music offerings, Amazon.

But don’t stop there.

Apple is killing themselves trying to offer 17 different music services in iTunes.  That’s why it’s being called ‘bloatware’.  And it’s also why they’re losing to Spotify, despite having 100 times the disposable income (just like Amazon).  It’s too confusing!

Don’t be Apple.  Make it dead simple and you will win.

What do you want, consumer?  CDs, vinyl, downloads, or streams?  Or everything?  Got an Echo?  Cool, you just got a 50% discount.  BOOM.

Next step: KILL your music download store.

Killing things is hard.  There’s blood.  Sometimes lawsuits.  Outrage.  But you have to do it to be competitive.

Music downloads are plunging.  Apple is already nixing music downloads on iTunes Korea and China.  It’s only a matter of time before it happens in the US and Europe.  And now is a fantastic time to sever the dying appendage.

Right now, music downloads are collapsing.  Next year, download sales will be about HALF of what they are now.  So don’t ride this plane into the ground.  Instead, commandeer a parachute.  Offer to convert people’s mp3s into streaming playlists, give them six months free for their troubles.

Show them the future!

Now for the final step: Make ‘Amazon Music’ the whole digital music enchilada!

Here’s a conversion people aren’t having:

Her: Have you tried Amazon Music?

Him: No, what’s that all about?

Her: It’s like Spotify, but a lot easier.  And actually bundled with Prime.  I really love it.

Him: But Spotify is great!  It’s totally easy.

Her: This is better though.  Well at least I think so.  It’s got all the same selection but it’s easier.  I don’t know, try it!

Him:  OK, cool.  Amazon Music.  I use Amazon all the time, and have Prime.  That’s easy to remember, I’ll check it out.

The minute ‘she’ has to break down the differences between ‘Included With Prime’ and ‘Unlimited,’ you’re dead!  That is, if she understands the differences herself.

So keep it simple: Amazon Music = millions of streaming songs, one easy entry point and one proposition.

Do that, and the above conversation will be replicated hundreds of thousands of times.  And you win.


12 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Let’s not kill the download store just yet. I’m still hopeful that labels will one day realize that windowing new releases as digital downloads only may be a good idea.

  2. Rico

    How about effective lifestyle marketing, touching people on local levels instead of relying on mass market tactics that to cover everyone in one net.

    Come on people, we can do better lol.

  3. Chester

    Unless you’re in Canada. In that case, Amazon’s message is clearest as can be: “get lost”. Somehow I was able to sign up for a 30-day trial of Unlimited. Just got an email: “Don’t know how you signed up. This is for AMERICANS ONLY. Fuck off.” Account cancelled. Well, fuck them, too.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I could be mistaken, but I’m fairly certain that wasn’t there earlier this week. I may have a screenshot on my other Mac.

      • Joe Mamma

        They’ve had and app on windows for a long time. It was a great app, but the recent update is so buggy it’s completely unusable.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          Seems like it might have been rush released? Not sure, as I can’t imagine not seeing it before.

  4. George

    I don’t understand why you insist on saying Apple “got rid of” or “nixed” Itunes downloads in Korea and China. That is not true. They were never available there to begin with due to licensing issues. Also, why would a company get rid of a medium they are still making money on. Your obvious beef with downloads is confusing. Stick to the facts.

  5. Randy

    Some of us still want a real copy of our MP3s. Don’t even think about killing downloads. What if you are a DJ and need to play your MP3s without the worry of your connection getting buggered in the middle of a job. How are you going to load up your MP3 player or play music when you are camping? There is still plenty of demand for music downloading.

    The cloud is a good idea but the way things are going, internet bandwidth is going to be stressed once everyone needlessly stream things they could easily fit on their hard drive. Hard drives are dirt cheap these days. Stream when you are using your phone. But at home there is no reason to stream music you own. Prime content is another story as well as the other streaming only music services.

  6. Bill

    I agree with a lot of this and I *HATE* the Amazon desktop app — you nailed it with making it simpler. However, I hope they don’t kill downloading (and the app should make downloading a LOT faster and easier!). There are still (thank God!) places where I can go and not have steaming bandwidth and unlimited electricity, but still want great music. Just about any place I put on my boots and backpack to get to, and don’t want to carry a bulky solar recharger, I need to be able to download tunes to a low-power consumption playback device. I would assume there are plenty of parts of Africa, Central and South America, wilderness Canada and others where this is also true.
    It would also be nice if albums downloaded in order, whether one track was longer or shorter or not — I don’t want to hear the third movement before the second.
    I recognize that I’m a niche market, but I’m not alone, and it’s really easy to continue to serve my niche and also have a great streaming service and do the other things you mentioned.

  7. Anonymous

    I hate the desktop app. I use Foobar2k and have total control over my tags, my properties, my sorting. On the Amazon music app it’s “What’s a tag?” and my uploaded music, to the extent I can even find it, has 3 dozen genres applied to it instead of my six.

    Sorry but until I can actually store MY music properly, Amazon’s service can go fly a kite.

  8. Anonymous

    the downloads themselves suck their compression sounds awful not worth the price better off looking for the CD and ripping it yourself