The widespread music subscription streaming price rise that labels and music publishers have long called for is finally, properly underway.
In Q4 last year, Apple Music announced that it was upping its standard monthly subscription price from USD $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and GBP £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK. It also increased the price of its Family Plan in both territories.
Now Amazon Music has made a similar move: The company has confirmed to customers that, like Apple, it is raising its standard individual Amazon Music Unlimited monthly subscription price from $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and from £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK.
Amazon Music is also upping its Amazon Music Unlimited Student Plan from $/£4.99 to $/£5.99 per month in each respective territory.
Additionally, Amazon Music is increasing equivalent pricing in Germany and Japan.
(The price rises mentioned here are for non-Amazon Prime members. Amazon Music subscription prices for Prime members increased in May last year: In the US, Prime members who subscribed to an individual Amazon Music Unlimited account started paying $8.99 per month rather than $7.99 per month, or $89 rather than $79 per year. There was also a bump in the price of the standard Amazon Music Family Plan in 2022, which rose from $14.99 monthly in the States to $15.99.)
Amazon Music’s newly-updated pricing starts on February 21, 2023. Amazon has told customers in the US and UK: “You will begin seeing the new price, plus applicable taxes, on your first bill after that date.”
Amazon is justifying the price rises to customers thusly: “To offer you our service in the usual quality, we’re updating the prices of select Amazon Music Unlimited plans.”
For music rightsholders, such streaming price rises cannot come soon enough.
As MBW pointed out in our latest Talking Trends podcast, annual growth in subscription music streaming revenues fell substantially in the UK last year.
In 2021, music subscription services generated £191.3 million more than they did in the prior year. But in 2022, that yearly growth figure was reduced to less than half: £78.8 million.
The primary reason for that slowdown, of course, is the maturation of the UK streaming market. (To put it simply: The music industry is beginning to run out of new people to sell subscriptions to.)
Industry observers expect the US won’t be far behind the UK in this trendline; industry streaming revenue figures for FY2022 in the States are yet to be announced.
The move from Amazon Music to match Apple Music’s price rise is highly significant: According to Midia Research estimates, Amazon Music counted 82.2 million paying subscribers on its music streaming offerings at the close of Q2 2022; Apple Music had 84.7 million.
Neither of these tech giants, however, could match the global market leader, Spotify: Midia estimated that at the same moment in time, Spotify counted more subscribers than Amazon Music and Apple Music’s subs base combined (187.8m).
Indeed, Spotify has since publicly confirmed that at the close of September 2022, it counted 195 million paying subscribers globally.
Yet the music rights industry is still waiting to see Spotify raise its standard $9.99/£9.99/€9.99 monthly individual account price – a price that it’s had in place in the UK and Europe at this point for nearly 15 years.
In October last year, Spotify founder Daniel Ek hinted that new price rises were being considered by his service in major markets, including the US.
“[In terms of] U.S.-based price increases, it is one of the things that we would like to do,” he said, noting that “this is a conversation we will have in light of these recent developments [i.e. competitors raising their prices] with our label partners”.
Ek also noted that, across its various tiers and offerings, Spotify had made 46 price rises in multiple territories across the prior two years.
In Q4 last year, YouTube raised its YouTube Premium Family Plan up from $17.99 per month to $22.99 in the US and up £17.99 per month to £19.99 in the UK.
The YouTube Premium bundle includes a full subscription to the YouTube Music streaming platform.Music Business Worldwide