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Universal Music Group strikes streaming deal with Amazon Prime

Tue 29 Sep 2015

Amazon has announced that global music distributor Universal Music Group has allowed mainstream artists from its roster to be made available for Amazon Prime’s music streaming service. The service – which bundles free delivery of Amazon-purchased items with streaming services of third-party and Amazon-produced video content and music for a fixed annual fee – allows for downloading of music which has not been specifically purchased but instead made available via Prime’s apps for offline, a point of contention which has caused delays, limitations, restrictions and even stalemates for streaming providers such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

The Amazon release mentions some of the acts which will now be available for streaming, including Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Maroon 5, Of Monsters and Men, Eminem, Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Drake, Ellie Goulding and ‘a wide selection of popular Jazz and Classical albums from Universal Music artists’.

UMG’s Global Head of Digital Business Francis Keeling says: “We are pleased to make a selection of our catalog available on Prime Music…With Amazon’s tremendous reach and consumer appeal, we are delighted to build on our relationship by making Universal Music’s world-class artists available to Amazon Prime members.’

Downloaded songs from UMG will, like any other Prime music output, be shepherded and guarded by Amazon’s proprietary app solutions for Android, iOS, Fire, Amazon Echo and other authorised devices and services, with availability dependent on continuing licence agreements on a wholesale or individual (per artist/album) basis, so it’s ‘yours for now’.

Universal Music Group has been a fairly reliable barometer of the ‘legacy’ music business’s attitude towards the new technologies driving music in the last fifteen years, and the Amazon Prime deal was preceded by a doomed dalliance with the now defunct Music Beats streaming service, which peaked at 300,000 users under the leadership of Jimmy Iovine. UMG’s war on ad hoc streaming shares of its content even extended, it has been argued, to issuing take-down notices on content which it did not own the rights to.

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