Not interested in streaming music from Amazon? No problem. The Seattle-based tech company is going old school with their newly-launched Vinyl of the Month Club subscription which features albums from the Golden Era of Vinyl from the 1960s and 1970s. Each month a new album is curated by the Amazon team and sent directly to subscribers’ doors for $24.99. Shipping is free, and subscribers can skip a month or cancel their subscriptions at any time. Anyone can subscribe to the vinyl of the month club; the subscription service is not restricted to Prime members.
On Amazon’s subscription page, the company says, “Build the ultimate vinyl collection – start or grow an enviable collection with some of the greatest albums ever – iconic classics from artists like Pink Floyd, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Fleetwood Mac, The Clash, ABBA, and more. A great gift for anyone who’s just fallen in love with vinyl.”
As with every subscription, there are caveats:
- At launch, vinyl of the month club subscriptions are only available to customers in the United States.
- Monthly selections can be returned to Amazon if they are in new, unused condition.
- Subscribers do not get to choose the albums they will receive, but they can go to their Manage Your Subscriptions page and skip an album they don’t want.
Early subscribers and gifting
Amazon encourages music lovers to be early subscribers to try the new service and to help shape the subscription by sharing their experiences with Amazon.
“Subscribe now and help us evolve our service by providing feedback on your experience,” Amazon says.
Amazon also says the vinyl subscription is a great gift.
“Gift a newbie collector. Perfect for the music lover who’s just fallen for analog sound.”
Complements Amazon’s other music offerings
This new subscription service complements Amazon’s other music offerings. Prime members get free access to Amazon Music Prime which includes 2 million hand-curated songs. Amazon also offers Amazon Music Unlimited, a streaming music subscription that gives subscribers unlimited access to 70 million songs. New listeners can try the service for free for 30 days. After that, the streaming music service is $9.99 a month.
The vinyl subscription market is not new, so Amazon already has competition, though these services are not likely to have the same resources or reach that Amazon does. Here are a few of Amazon’s competitors:
- VNYL: For $39 a month, subscribers create personal music profiles that help curators choose albums suited to their listeners. U.S. subscribers get free shipping.
- Vinyl Me Please: Starting at $33 a month, subscribers can choose from four tracks that best reflect their taste: Classics, Essentials, Hip-Hop and Country. The site also offers VMP Exclusives for sale in their stop.
- Vinyl Moon: This membership club has several options: VM Club Membership starting at $27 per record (with an annual membership), $29 per record (with a three-month membership) and $30 per record (with a month-to-month membership) where subscribers can choose from past VM Club releases.
Amazon seems to be in the midst of a soft launch of its vinyl subscription service, hoping to gauge interest and tweak its offerings before a big debut. This vinyl of the month club is reminiscent of services like Columbia House Records which started in 1955 to sell music club subscriptions through the mail, starting with record albums and evolving to 8-track tapes, cassettes and eventually CDs.
I remember paying a penny to get a dozen or so cassettes or CDs in exchange for a commitment to buy X number of cassettes or CDs over a certain period of time. As a young music collector, it was an affordable way to build a music collection. Each month, Columbia House would send a postcard letting me know what the next month’s selection was. If I didn’t want it, I had to return the postcard by a certain date. If I didn’t return the postcard on time, or at all, I got that month’s selection mailed to me along with a bill.
The Amazon model is virtually identical; it has just evolved in terms of pricing and subscription terms. That model worked for a decades, and a new generation of music lovers has fallen in love with vinyl. This vinyl of the monthly club subscription option might be quite appealing to them.