Amazon Music and YouTube Music now offer free, ad-supported tiers

Andrew Burton  Bloomberg

Credit Andrew Burton Bloomberg

Inc. (AMZN.O) is hoping an ad-supported music-streaming service will help it sell more speakers and other devices that work with its voice-activated Alexa platform.

The two technology giants will launch their free services for their respective smart speakers: the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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Alexa users in the United States can now listen to Amazon Music free of charge on their Alexa-enabled device thanks to a new ad-supported version of the streaming music service. You simply ask for something like "play 80s music" and it will find a matching station. Amazon Music Unlimited, which starts at $7.99 a month, offers over 50 million songs. Similarly to Amazon's feature, you can give a command like "play Latin vibes" and YouTube will find a station.

Credit: Tom's GuideBillboard reported last week that the company was planning to launch the new tier to compete with Spotify, offering to pay some record labels on a per-stream basis.

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Google notes that you can't pick and choose which songs or albums you want to listen to - you can only listen to pre-populated playlists. YouTube Music's free tier is available in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, and Austria.

With its free, ad-supported music streaming service, Amazon is probably looking to convert Alexa users into paid customers.

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This service could bring additional pressure for a free Apple Music option.

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