“We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top tier services,” said Amazon Devices Senior Vice President David Limp in the statement. “We’re thrilled to bring Apple Music—one of the most popular music services in the US—to Echo customers this holiday.”
Once the feature rolls out, users will be able to ask Alexa on Echo devices to play songs, artists, and albums from Apple Music after pairing their account to the Alexa mobile app. Subscribers can also ask Alexa to play curated playlists and radio stations, including Apple’s Beats 1 station.
Apple Music subscribers could play music on Echo devices before but only by pairing their smartphone or tablet to their Echo device via Bluetooth. Those mobile devices controlled playback, and no Alexa voice commands were applicable. But with the new integration, subscribers will be able to ask Alexa to play the tracks they want instead of turning to their mobile devices.
Echo devices already have the ability to play music from Amazon’s own music streaming service as well as Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and others. Apple Music was the biggest outlier, with more than 50 million paid and free-trial listeners. Adding this feature to Echo devices could help persuade Apple Music subscribers to join Amazon’s smart home ecosystem.
It also helps Apple: Echo devices are substantially cheaper than the company’s own $350 HomePod, which currently only plays Apple Music tracks natively. Easier ways to listen to music throughout homes may encourage users to give Apple Music’s free trial a spin or even subscribe to the service. That will likely help Apple in its ongoing battle with Spotify, the leader in the music streaming space with 83 million paid subscribers worldwide.
This is just one of the recent collaborations we’ve seen come from the relationship between Apple and Amazon. The Prime Video streaming app arrived on Apple TV about one year ago, allowing Prime members to stream video on Apple’s set-top box. The two companies also just expanded a deal to sell more Apple products on Amazon, including iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches.