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Amazon stops charging extra for lossless music as Apple enters the fray

Faced with new competition from Apple, Amazon today announced that it will no longer charge an added fee for the “HD” tier of Amazon Music that lets customers stream audio at CD quality and above. From now on, lossless audio will be available to all Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra charge. Billboard was first to report the development.

This makes Amazon the first company to offer lossless music at the industry’s standard $9.99 subscription rate. Amazon Music Unlimited is even cheaper ($7.99 per month) for Prime customers. And yes, the high-quality audio will also now be available for customers paying that price. Family plans are eligible for Amazon Music HD at no added cost, but student plans are exempt. Before Amazon entered the picture, the going rate for a lossless music subscription was $19.99; that’s what Tidal continues to charge.

What’s making this change possible? Well, as Billboard points out, with all the music streaming heavyweights now going in on lossless audio, music labels care more about pushing up subscriber count totals across these services than the higher subscription premiums that they previously demanded for hi-res audio.

The price drop for Amazon Music HD comes on the very same day Apple announced the launch of lossless audio on Apple Music. Apple teased significant news over the weekend after rumors began swirling late last week about the possibility. The company’s Apple Music Android app spilled the details a bit early and signaled that an announcement could be imminent.

Amazon Music HD has been performing strongly for Amazon. A previous Billboard report said the service is up 100 percent year over year. The service offers over 70 million songs in CD quality, with over 7 million exceeding that and available in “ultra HD” quality.

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