Google and Amazon both are both launching free, ad-supported versions of their streaming music services. And both are available exclusively on smart speakers at launch.
There are a few key restrictions on both services:
- They’re both ad-supported, which means you’ll hear commercials play from time to time unless you pony up some cash*.
- You can’t play full albums. Instead you’ll get stations or playlists based on your request. It’s more like Pandora’s free service than Spotify’s in that regard.
Google’s announcement also suggests that you only get a limited number of skips and song replays on the free tier. It’s unclear if Amazon Music has the same limitation, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t.
There’s no word on if or when you’ll be able to access these ad-supported music streaming services on devices other than smart speakers. But the good news is that if you buy a Google Home, Amazon Echo, or another Alexa or Assistant-enabled device, you now have a new option for listening to music without paying a monthly fee.
*YouTube Music subscriptions run $10 per month, while Amazon Music Unlimited is $8 per month for Prime members, $10 per month for non-Prime members or $4 per month for use on a single Echo device.