Surprise! Apple Music is coming to the Amazon Echo

Apple's subscription music service, Apple Music, will launch on Amazon's Echo devices starting in the week of Dec. 17, Amazon announced Friday.

This will enable Apple Music subscribers to access their songs, albums, artists, playlists and stream radio stations by invoking Alexa on an Echo device.

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To access the feature, users will have to enable the new Apple Music skill in the Alexa app and link their accounts first. Usage should be straightforward to Alexa users; Amazon gives the phrase "Alexa, play Bebe Rexha on Apple Music" as an example.

“We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top tier services," said senior vice president at Amazon Devices, Dave Limp, in the announcement.

With this move, Apple Music joins its biggest rival, Spotify, on Amazon's Alexa platform. Both services had roughly 20 million paid users in the U.S. in July, but Spotify is much bigger globally, with 83 million paid users in July versus Apple Music's 50 million paid users total as of May.

The deal is interesting given Amazon and Apple's history. In 2015, Amazon stopped selling Apple TV due to its incompatibility with its own video service, and Apple sued Amazon in 2016 over counterfeit Apple products on Amazon's store. But the two companies appear to be warming up to each other. Earlier this month, Amazon started selling nearly all of Apple products — with the notable absence of HomePod, which competes with Echo — in its online store for the first time.

It's also unclear what the move means for Apple's HomePod smart speaker. Apple uses HomePod's ability to stream Apple Music as a point of differentiation from other smart speakers, including the Echo and Google Home devices. With Apple Music available to Echo owners, it's going to be harder than ever for the premium-priced HomePod to stand out.

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