Business Matters: Cricket's Muve Music Surpasses 250,000 Subscribers
Business Matters: Cricket's Muve Music Surpasses 250,000 Subscribers

Muve Music, the all-in-one subscription service by wireless carrier Cricket Wireless, revealed Tuesday it has surpassed 1.1 million subscribers less than two years after its launch.

Other on-demand music subscription services may get more attention both inside and outside the music industry, but Muve Music has quietly become one of the brighter spots in today's digital marketplace. The service, created from the ground up by Cricket, combines an unlimited music subscription service with a pay-as-you-go mobile phone service. Its catalog offers songs from all three majors and numerous independent distributors.

Tuesday's announcement means the top three on-demand subscription services in the U.S. are in roughly a dead heat. Spotify announced one month ago it had 1 million subscribers in the U.S. (and five million globally). It also has many more users of its free, ad-supported service. Rhapsody's last public announcement, in December 2011, put it at 1 million subscribers.

According to the earnings release of Cricket parent company Leap Wireless, Muve Music had more than 700,000 subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2012. Over 500,000 Leap Wireless users signed up for Muve Music in the first year. Then in August, Cricket opted to make Muve Music a standard service for all new Android phone plans.

"By including Muve into every Cricket Android smartphone rate plan, we've created a compelling product that differentiates Cricket in the marketplace and helps to create a loyal customer driven by the importance our customers place on their music," Cricket Communications CEO Doug Hutchison said in a statement.

This is like found revenue for the music industry. Muve Music has reached 1.1 million subscribers even though it avoids computers altogether. The mobile-only service offers no desktop apps for personal computers and no apps for tablets. According to information provided to Billboard.biz by Cricket in 2011, most Cricket users don't even have a personal computer and 70% don't have a landline or credit card. In effect, Muve Music has been able to tap into a group of underserved music fans who weren't actively participating in the digital economy.