I don’t normally post on Sundays—especially not when it’s Christmas Eve—but this news is too important to keep. Amazon Music Library changes are on the way and if you’ve uploaded (or planned to upload) a personal digital music library so Alexa would have access to play it, get ready for disappointment.
Multiple Outlets Report Effective January 2019, Amazon Music Storage Will Be Discontinued
Amazon Music allows Amazon customers to upload up to 250 digital tracks of their own to their Amazon Music Library at no charge. Amazon Music Storage service allowed for upload of up to 250k digital tracks of your own to Amazon Music, for a fee of $25 per year.
Both options are going away in January of 2019.
If you’ve already uploaded personal tracks to your Amazon Music Library, you’ll need to download them for offline storage prior to the discontinuation date to ensure they’re not lost forever. If you haven’t, it’s probably not worth the time and effort to upload anything since you (and Alexa) will only have access to it for a year anyway.
**I’VE HEARD PEOPLE ARE GETTING CONFLICTING INFORMATION FROM AMAZON CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THIS. SEE MY UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS POST, DATED 12/24/17 AT 3:20PM PST**
But Why? WHY?!
According to Ars Technica:
Uploading personal MP3s isn’t as popular as it used to be thanks to the rise of music streaming services. But at the beginning of the transition, some companies offered ways for customers to listen to their personal MP3 files along with music provided from the new service…it was a convenient way for companies to encourage new users to sign on without abandoning the huge music libraries they may have already built up over the years. With more of the music industry moving to paid streaming, it makes more sense for Amazon to focus on its Music and Music Unlimited services.
This change may mean nothing to younger consumers for whom streaming services have always been the preferred outlet for music, but for dinosaurs like me who own (and have uploaded) massive personal music libraries, this is terrible news. First there’s the chore of downloading our entire personal libraries from Amazon Music. Then there’s the fact that the personal tracks will only be accessible to Alexa via Bluetooth streaming.
What’s The Alexa Impact?
As mentioned above, Alexa can play music from any Bluetooth-compatible source via Bluetooth streaming, so you can store all your personal digital music on a computer or other device that can stream to your Alexa device via Bluetooth and you’ll still have access to play it that way. But there are downsides.
Alexa Bluetooth playback controls aren’t as robust or flexible as those for Amazon Music Library, and are more or less limited to the button functions you might have on an old-school CD player. Alexa-supported streaming services offer more functionality, like the ability to rate songs by thumbs up/down, display song lyrics on Fire TV, Show or Spot devices, allow for song lookup by a fragment of lyrics (e.g., “Alexa, what’s the song that goes “mama, life had just begun”), and more*.
*Note that functions available vary by service
**UPDATE, 12/24/17 3:30PM PST**
I found this Amazon Help topic through a Google search (though interestingly, a search on “Amazon Music Storage” in the Help section on the Amazon site itself turns up nothing). It does say Amazon Music Storage subscription plans are being retired. It says new subscriptions are being accepted only through 1/15/18. Under the “paid storage plan” section, it also says:
“While you remain a paid member, you retain the ability to upload music and renew your subscription.”
But I don’t trust that the renewal option will continue beyond January 2019. My subscription renews every August and I expect this means that I will be able to renew in August of 2018 and the service will remain active for me through August 2019, but I won’t be allowed to renew again after that. I suspect the “retirement” announcement is just step one in the overall plan, which is to discontinue Amazon Music Storage entirely and nudge those customers into Prime Music or AMU, and further ‘clarification’ on the matter will be issued as we get closer to January, 2019.
I could be wrong about this, but it seems pretty clear that Amazon wants to discontinue Music Storage and given that the price of not downloading all my personal music and finding an alternative is potentially losing all of it, for me the stakes are too high to take chances on this.