This could be the best music streaming service you’ve never heard of

Amazon's radio rocks – or at least, it does if you're in the US

Amazon Amp
(Image credit: Amazon)

The best music streaming service in the US for you might be one you've never heard of. Amazon's Amp has been flying under the radar for a while now with an iOS-only beta, but it's now available on Android too.

Amp promises to be a cross between Sirus and YouTube: a music streaming app where you can stream your own DJ sets and chat between songs, or tune into other people's streams. Amazon has negotiated all the necessary rights for the music in its huge catalog so you can simply create your own playlists without having to import from another music service. 

The catalog of music is huge, with big names such as Sony and Warners as well as lots of independent music firms too.

If you’re wondering why Amazon is interested in radio, which is a pretty old tech, it’s still a pretty big market: despite the rise of streaming, 83% of Americans aged 12 upwards listen to terrestrial radio in any given week. With Amp, Amazon reckons it’s found the right way to bring tech into that conversation.

Here’s Amp VP John Ciancutti. “Imagine if you were inventing the medium for the first time today,” he says. “You’d combine what people love about radio—spontaneous talk, new music discovery, diverse personalities, and broad programming—with all that's made possible by today’s technology. You’d make it so anybody with a phone, a voice, and a love for music could make their own show. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

What exactly is Amazon Amp, and can it make you rich?

Amp is a mix of live and on-demand radio: think Twitch without the visuals. Provided you’re in the US you can listen to it or broadcast to others on your phone, via the web player or via an Alexa smart speaker. Other countries “are on the roadmap” but Amazon hasn’t shared an ETA.

As an incentive for you to create and share your own stations, Amazon has created the Amp Creator Fund to help monetise the service. It isn’t for everybody – Amazon says it will “reach out to selected creators with reward amounts and instructions on how to claim” and that those rewards “will generally be determined based on listener engagement and show performance metrics.”

If you’re concerned that that monetisation will encourage people to post hateful or conspiracist content for clicks and cash – as it does on YouTube and appears to be doing on Twitter – Amazon’s house rules say that “We welcome creative expression, diverse opinions, and thoughtful discourse. We encourage passionate debate. But entertainment at the expense of safety is never acceptable, and we will deal with issues quickly and seriously.” The T&Cs make it very clear that things such as Holocaust or Sandy Hook denial, election fraud conspiracies and sharing content from “known conspiracy theorists or groups” is strictly forbidden. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (