After months of huffing and puffing, and the odd false start, Amazon Australia is finally open for business.
The online retail monolith quietly launched its platform Down Under on Tuesday and began taking orders from its 24,000-square-meter fulfilment centre in Melbourne’s Dandenong South, with the promise of “millions” of products, big discounts and on-day delivery (depending, of course, on where you live).
Its early days, the Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service isn’t here yet, but the buzz is palpable. What does it all mean for Australia’s music industry? The Industry Observer checked in.
Australian Music Retailers Association (AMRA)
AMRA is a bit bemused by the media excitement about Amazon opening in Australia. Record stores have been competing with Amazon for years, so this is nothing new for us. That they are now ‘over here’ is, for us, just a detail. What we have learned over those years is that music lovers want to buy their music and listen to their music in the way that suits them. Downloading was king, now streaming is taking that crown, but people are still buying CDs and the growth in vinyl has been exponential. There is even a new vinyl pressing plant slated to open in Melbourne next year to keep up with demand.
Our job as record stores is to be different to Amazon, to create a great place to visit that’s all about music and that’s what record stores are working their hearts out doing. Amazon can’t compete with that because that’s not what they do. Amazon is all things to all people. Record stores are specialists. Amazon is transactional: you want it, you buy it, it’s delivered. Record stores are about being an experience.
Amazon can’t compete with flicking through the racks, hearing a local band live before they make it big, hanging with other music lovers and just talking nonsense about your favourite bands, and Amazon can’t compete with Record Store Day. So for record stores in Australia this is just business as usual. We know who and what Amazon is because we’ve competed with it for years and record stores have honed what they offer to be different and offer something that music lovers want and love.
– Dave Clarke, Chair of AMRA
It remains to be seen what Amazon’s impact in Australia will be. It depends on whether Amazon Australia chooses to put effort into their music platform, offers prompt fulfilment, low prices and is adopted by customers as their default supplier. It’s interesting that they already have a tab for Australian recorded music and a large catalogue. If this becomes richer, this could be good for our music. A key interest for us is that independent and niche music is nourished– diversity is vital to a healthy music ecology.
It’s also too early to say what the impact will be on musical instruments and sheet music – yet to be offered locally by Amazon. Like recorded music our products industry has already weathered and adapted to digital change, most good specialist music stores in Australia already operate competitively online, and provide personalised service and advice, something Amazon doesn’t.
Is it good Amazon is here? While Amazon’s lower prices and platform can benefit consumers, in our view it will be good if it grows the whole music market, and in turn increases incomes for Australian content and local businesses. Let’s hope that’s the case.”
– Chris Bowen, CEO of Music Australia
Increased competition and more players in the market should lead to better prices and a broader range of products and services for Australians. The retailers that should be most worried about the arrival of a new service are those that are charging high prices or delivering sub-par service.
However, there’s no guarantee that Amazon will shake-up the Australian market. People shouldn’t assume that Amazon Australia will deliver the best prices or services, especially from day one.
The best way to get a good deal is to look past brand and shop around for the right deal. CHOICE will be watching closely to see if the arrival of Amazon does what consumers are expecting and puts pressure on other retailers to start offering better deals.
-Choice Head of Media and Spokesperson, Tom Godfrey
Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR)
The arrival of Amazon is both an exciting opportunity and a potential threat if they use their market power to apply unfair terms to independent labels. We hope for the best and look forward to hearing from them to discuss.
– Maria Amato, General Manager of AIR
Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA)
ARIA welcomes Amazon’s entry into Australia. We promote a healthy and vibrant music market as the more options consumers have to access music from licensed services, the better it is for our thriving industry.