Amazon has signed a deal with the massive Universal Music Group for its Prime Music service, meaning some of the label's biggest artists will be available for streaming starting today. This means the biggest hole in Prime Music's catalog has finally been filled: UMG artists have been absent from the service since its launch last June. (Music released by Sony Music Entertainment and the Warner Music Group, the other two major labels, has been available since opening day.) If you're a Prime subscriber and you like artists like Drake, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, or Lorde, you're in luck: they'll all be streamable this afternoon.
Unfortunately, there are a few strings attached to Amazon's UMG deal. Both parties have made it clear that only "select albums" are coming to Prime Music, meaning there are still going to be gaps — albeit smaller ones — in Prime Music's catalog. ("We are pleased to make a selection of our catalog available on Prime Music," said UMG executive Francis Keeling.) There's no word yet on how UMG and Amazon are determining which albums will be made available on Prime Music.
The deal also doesn't affect the six-month delay between an album's release and its appearance on Prime Music, a consequence of Amazon's catalog deal. You might be able to hear Drake's February mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late right away, but expect to wait a few months for The Weeknd's August LP Beauty Behind the Madness. Of course, Amazon isn't necessarily trying to build a Spotify rival with Prime Music — the company is just trying to add a little more value to its Prime subscriptions. UMG's absence was glaring, and its addition to the service — even in a partial form — makes Prime Music a more appealing proposition.