Amazon Music Unlimited in Australia: What gives?

Angus Kidman 11 December 2017 NEWS

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When will Amazon's Spotify rival finally make an appearance on our shores?

So Amazon finally launched in Australia last week, to a somewhat less than rapturous response. People who were expecting hundreds of bargains in every category were disappointed. But as I've noted before, Amazon's launch strategy is one of trickling out new product areas, not making everything available at once. That's particularly evident with Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon's Spotify-like music streaming service.

Over the weekend, Amazon announced that Music Unlimited would be expanding to 28 more countries, largely in Europe and South America. Those countries will also be able to buy the Amazon Echo smart speaker and use it for listening to and controlling their playlist. But while that's a new option in Bulgaria, Peru and Liechtenstein, Australia was entirely missing from the list.

You might think Australia's absence is because most people who use Music Unlimited do so as part of an Amazon Prime free-shipping-and-other-goodies subscription. We're not getting Amazon Prime in Australia just yet, though Amazon is promising it "soon". If "soon" really is in the next couple of months, it would make sense not to roll out Music Unlimited as a separate product.

That may well turn out to be the case, but it's not true that Amazon only rolls out Music Unlimited as part of a broader Prime subscription package. In most of the 28 markets it has announced a new launch in, it is offering Music Unlimited as a standalone service, with its own monthly subscription.

Moreover, Amazon has gone down this single-service path in Australia before. Back in December 2016, it rolled out Amazon Prime Video by subscription. Granted, that was probably mostly to ensure that The Grand Tour (which is Top Gear in all but name) was available here. On that front, the fact that Amazon has since sold some local broadcast rights to Channel Seven for The Grand Tour suggests it wasn't a mega-successful strategy. But I digress.

We do know for certain that Music Unlimited is coming eventually. Halfway through this year, Amazon advertised for a "head of digital music". The job description read in part:

You will work with the Amazon Music team and local in-region Amazon teams to develop a world-class and locally relevant digital music customer experience, and ensure that Amazon is well positioned versus other offerings.

So it seems likely that we'll see Music Unlimited in early 2018, something that would also tally with plans to release Amazon Echo at the same time. Nonetheless, it's yet another reminder that Australia is low on the totem pole for Amazon, despite all the activity.

Finally, an interesting side note on Amazon's broader Australian launch. If you visit the main amazon.com site with an Australian address, you'll see this message:

OopsAmazon

You'd think Amazon would want to point out that you can get loads of other products in Australia (which is a new development), rather than just talking up Kindle releases (which we've had for years). But apparently not.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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