Muve Music, the unlimited music service of mobile carrier Cricket Wireless, has reached 600,000 subscribers and is looking to expand to other markets, according to a report at The Guardian from the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. The number is an unofficial estimate made by a senior product director, not an official figure released by the company.
In addition, this person told The Guardian the service is interested in expanding to other markets. He did not say if negotiations with foreign mobile carriers were in progress or specify which markets Muve is targeting.
The Muve service was created by Cricket to be built into its unlimited talk, text and web packages. It has licensed music from all four majors and a number of independent distributors. The cost of the service is embedded in the cost of the mobile plan - either $55 per month or $65 per month depending on the device. The service provides value for consumers but also has advantages for Cricket. Muve has said the service helps reduce customer churn and increase average revenue per customer, two factors that could be attractive to interested foreign mobile carriers.
Muve is still behind US-leading subscription Rhapsody but is gaining quickly. Muve announced in early January it had surpassed 500,000 subscribers, meaning it added 100,000 users in about two months. Launched in January 2011, it had reached 100,000 by early July and 250,000 subscribers by November. The latest figure Rhapsody gave on its subscriber count was 1 million in late December. Spotify was at 250,000 subscribers in October.
Subscription services have encountered some criticism recently for their small royalties and the possibility they cannibalize music purchases. But Muve is not entirely like those other services. While Muve has a familiar all-you-can-eat business model, it is aimed at people who use mobile phones as their primary device for accessing the Internet. When Billboard.biz spoke with SVP Jeff Toig last month, he was eager to point out that Muve had opened up digital music to an underserved market. "This is a business that isn't cannibalizing iTunes," he said. "It's really bringing in a completely new customer to the legal digital music economy."