HOLLYWOOD—Just a few days ago Amazon Music has become the first of the big three streaming services to offer music in CD-quality audio. A new tier of premium quality music with more than 50 million songs in high definition, and millions of songs in ultra high definition, the highest quality streaming available.
They are charging $12.99 a month for Prime members and $14.99 a month for Amazon customers. Amazon Music HD makes high quality, audio accessible to all music fans. Until now, Amazon, like its main rivals Apple and Spotify, only streamed music in compressed formats like MP3 and AAC. Some smaller services like Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz already offer lossless, high-fidelity streaming. Tidal and Deezer, by comparison, charge a bit more per month for their lossless tiers. All three of the major record labels have signed up, with music by Fleetwood Mac, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran now available in Ultra HD.
Back in 2015, US radio network NPR ran an online test to see whether its audience could distinguish between three forms of audio compression. On average, it discovered, people only did slightly better than guessing randomly. Amazon’s advantage could be its dominance of the smart speaker market, with people listening at home more likely to appreciate a sonic upgrade than commuters streaming music over wireless earbuds.
Notably, the launch of Amazon Music’s HD service comes a week before the company unveils its latest range of hardware, which is expected to include a new model of its Echo speaker. Artists like Taylor Swift and others that were excited about the potential for fans to be able to stream their favorite music, and “hear it as it was originally recorded,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music.
“From rock to hip-hop to classical and pop, we believe listening to music at this level of sound will make customers fall in love again with their favorite music and artists. As we usher in a new listening experience for our customers and the industry, we’re combining the convenience of streaming with all of the emotion, power, clarity and nuance of the original recordings,” said Boom. Amazon Music HD will always offer customers the best quality recording available for streaming, providing an unparalleled listening experience.
Legendary albums including Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” and Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” become revelatory new experiences, almost as if the listener is sitting in on these storied studio sessions. Songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” and St. Vincent’s “Digital Witness,” are also now available in Ultra HD, revealing nuances that were once flattened in files compressed for digital streaming.
Amazon Music HD will play the highest quality audio the customer’s device and network conditions will support, and is compatible with a wide variety of devices, including desktop, mobile (iOS & Android), select Echo devices, Fire TV, and Fire Tablets. Amazon Music HD is also compatible with many third-party devices, including most products from Denon and Marantz with HEOS Built-in, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Sonos, McIntosh, Sennheiser, and many more. The service is offering a 90-day free trial. It will be available in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.
Besides music, there is big money streaming deals for “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory.” The streaming wars heat up. All 12 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory” will be on HBO Max when it launches next spring after a $500 million deal. Netflix has won the rights to “Seinfeld,” reportedly also for more than $500 million as well. That comes after Netflix lost its two most popular shows – “Friends” to HBO Max for $425 million and “The Office” to NBC’s new service Peacock for $500 million. The deals are signs of the fierce competition as a new raft of streaming services prepare to launch in the US – and of the enduring appeal of comedy favorites among viewers. “Seinfeld” ran for nine years until 1998, and is going to Netflix.
Speaking of “The Big Bang Theory” deal, the show’s creator Chuck Lorre said “12 seasons of laughter is a gift to be cherished.”
He added: “And now we are extremely excited that TBBT will be joining the HBO Max line-up and be available to both existing and future fans of the show. Laughter has legs!”
Big-money streaming deals for “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory” have been done, proving the pulling power of familiar TV shows as the streaming wars heat up. All 12 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory” will be on HBO Max when it launches next spring.
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