Amazon Prime is great but why no free Amazon Music in NZ?

December 29, 2022
3 mins read

PAT PILCHER is enjoying his Amazon Prime sub, but wonders why unlike our Aussie neighbours, we miss out on the free music streaming service.

While lolling about on holiday, it occurred to me that even though I’d subscribed to Spotify ages ago, I’d hardly ever used it, even though it cost me $14.99 a month. What else could I get for that money?

I started shopping around and stumbled upon Amazon Prime. It was a good fit, given I have an Amazon Echo in most rooms of my home and an Amazon Firestick plugged into my telly. Amazon Prime costs $139 a year. That’s slightly less than I’m spending on Spotify. So, what does an Amazon Prime subscription get me?

The most widely known part of Amazon’s Prime subscription is their Prime Video streaming service, which offers a huge selection of movies and TV shows. While most of the content is included, annoyingly, you’re expected to cough up more money to rent some titles. That said, Prime Video’s user interface is intuitive, and its 4K, HDR streamed video really popped on my Panasonic telly. For sci-fi shows/movies and a host of original Amazon shows, Prime Video has a lot to recommend it.

Bizarrely though, Kiwis don’t get Amazon Music with an Amazon Prime subscription, even though Aussies, Yanks and just about everyone else on Planet Earth do. It took me a while to work this out. If music is a must, you can pay an extra $13.99 a month for Amazon Music Unlimited, which is available in NZ and is the premium version. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers have access to 90 million songs compared to the two million songs in Amazon Music. Those 90 million songs are available in HD audio (850Kbps, 16-bit at 44.1kHz up to 3,730Kbps, 24-bit at 192kHz). Add to this a metric shit tonne of Reality Audio 360 and Atmos encoded tracks, and the additional money for Amazon Music Unlimited is no hardship. Still, I can’t help but wonder why the low tier of Amazon Music (fewer songs, shuffle mode only) isn’t part of an Amazon Prime subscription in New Zealand.

If it were just streamed video and music, that’d be fine, but with a Prime subscription, there’s so much more. Prime Gaming lets you subscribe to a Twitch streamer for free every month – it normally costs, plus you get exclusive emotes and no annoying ads. Further sweetening the deal, Amazon also gives out free games to Prime subscribers every month, along with the ability to redeem free rewards with popular games.

With Google capping the amount of storage for photos with Google Photos, the next Prime perk is even more compelling. Amazon Photos allows you to save an unlimited number of full-resolution photos (whereas Google Photos drops the resolution of your pics) from all your devices, and you can share unlimited photo storage with five other family members. Amazon photo is a complete no-brainer.

Amazon’s raison d’etre is shopping. It is no accident that Amazon is one of the world’s biggest online malls. To this end, being a Prime member gives subscribers exclusive access to hot deals on Prime Day, an annual shopping event like Black Friday. Prime members also benefit from free shipping with selected purchases over a certain value.

If you’re a Kindle owner and a Prime member, the news is also good. Prime Reading gives members access to a large digital library filled with books, magazines, and comics. Prime members can read anything in Prime Reading for free. There are also a few not-so-obvious perks that come with Prime Reading. Some book titles come with audiobook versions (which are awesome for a relaxing commute or when travelling). There’s also Amazon First Reads, which gives members access to selected book titles before they’re released to bookstores.

While the lack of a free tier of Amazon Music as part of a Prime subscription in NZ is annoying, there’s no escaping the fact that you can get so much more value for money with an Amazon Prime membership for less money than you’d spend on a Spotify subscription.


Correction: After checking with an Amazon support person, it turns out that Amazon Prime reading is also not available to Amazon Prime New Zealand subscribers. Free shipping is only free with a minimum spend and NZ Prime subscribers still cannot get Amazon Music unless they pay an additional subscription. At the time of writing I have canned my Amazon prime subscription as their video service simply doesnt warrant the spend.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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