Cricket's music plan showing promise

Jul 07, 2011 By RYAN NAKASHIMA , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- If you think people who pre-pay their cellphone bills aren't the type to shell out for music these days, think again.

Pre-paid wireless carrier Cricket said Thursday that its Muve has quickly become one of the top unlimited mobile plans in the United States with 100,000 subscribers, just months after launching in January.

The quick uptake by Cricket consumers - many of whom do not have credit cards - is a rare success for the music industry, still reeling from a piracy-induced decline in and struggling to boost via digital means.

Part of Muve's attraction is that access to unlimited song downloads is bundled with a $55-a-month plan that includes unlimited voice, data and . Although such services have become popular in European countries such as France and Norway, Muve represents the first music plan bundled with cellphone service in the U.S.

Jeff Toig, general manager of Muve Music, said another reason for the plan's popularity is that it's simple and targets Cricket's value-focused customers.

"One phone, one plan," Toig said. "And you get all your music essentially free as part of your wireless service. It's really simple for people to get that."

The service is now available only on a Samsung Suede feature phone with stripped-down capabilities that operates on the Brew platform, a mobile phone operating system developed by Inc. that has been around since 2001.

Songs downloaded to the phone can't be transferred to other devices, although it has a headphone jack and can send signals wirelessly to outlets such as car stereos using the Bluetooth standard. Muve gives users access to about 2 million tracks, including new releases by major labels. It aims to boost that to over 5 million by the end of the year.

Cricket, the mobile brand of Inc. and the seventh largest carrier covering just a third of the nation, also plans to roll out Muve on smartphones that run on Inc.'s Android operating system before the winter holidays.

The market leader in the mobile music subscription space is Rhapsody, which has an estimated 750,000 subscribers on its $10 per month plan. A service from Napster is estimated to have about the same number of subscribers as Muve.

Revenue generated by subscription plans offered by new entrants such as MOG, Rdio and Thumbplay has been disappointing so far.

Last year, paid subscription plans saw revenue shrink 5 percent to $201 million, even though the number of subscribers grew to 1.5 million from 1.2 million, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Including CD sales, downloads and other forms of music, the value of U.S. music shipments fell 11 percent to $6.85 billion from $7.68 billion a year ago, the RIAA said.

Music companies, which get a cut of the monthly bill from each subscriber, hope the success of a music plan that is bundled together with cellphone service can be repeated.

"Cricket has a big hit on their hands here in the U.S. market," said Michael Nash, executive vice president of digital strategy and business development at Warner Music Group Corp. "We think that's indicative of what the formula for success is in the U.S. and in markets around the world."

The companies wouldn't say how much of the $55 was allocated to the music plan but Warner Music's Nash said the recording company's cut was the same as the amount it got from $10-a-month plans such as offered by Rhapsody, MOG and others.

Muve is exciting music companies partly because it is gaining a foothold among people without credit cards, who therefore weren't already buyers of songs on Apple Inc.'s iTunes digital music store.

"This is giving customers a pre-paid phone service and perhaps their first introduction to legitimate digital music consumption," said David Ring, Universal Music Group's executive vice president of business development.

Cricket says its customers are devouring music on the devices, downloading more than 400 songs per month and listening for two to three hours per day.

That's a good indication they'll pay their bills on time and decide not to drop their plans at the end of the month, which would help both Cricket and the music industry.

"Fans are loving it," Ring said. "If Cricket and the music industry can delight fans, everything else will fall into place."

Explore further: Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MOG, Rdio new entrants to $10-a-month mobile music

Jun 29, 2010

(AP) -- Two more companies are jumping into the mobile streaming music field with applications that work on iPhones, giving consumers new ways to listen to millions of tracks on the go for about $10 a month.

Rhapsody cuts monthly music plan to $10 at spinoff

Apr 06, 2010

(AP) -- Subscription music service Rhapsody is dropping its monthly price to $9.99 from $14.99, hoping that loads of iPhone users who sampled it will now pay for all-you-can-listen access.

First-Ever Mobile Music Store from AT&T

Oct 05, 2004

Service Turns the Mobile Phone Into a 'Remote Control' for PC Downloads Of Digital Music Tracks Building on the success of the company's Music ID service, AT&T Wireless today announced the premier of the mM ...

Napster cuts music plan to $5 a month

May 19, 2009

(AP) -- Napster.com on Monday cut the price of its online music streaming service to $5 a month from $12.95, and threw in five song downloads for customers in a move to better compete with rival iTunes.

Recommended for you

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

5 hours ago

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

18 hours ago

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

US venture investments highest since 2001 (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into a growing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...