The most widespread music subscription service in the United States is not actually the biggest subscription service.
Muve Music has "nearly 1.7 million subscribers," a company spokesperson tells Billboard. That most likely makes it the top music subscription service in the country by number of subscribers. Digital Music News reported the number on Thursday, but that report suggested the service had actually exceeded the 1.7 million threshold.
Muve Music has added nearly 500,000 subscribers since early January when it announced it had surpassed 1.1 million subscribers. Its latest tally will likely be revealed on Aug. 1 when parent company Leap Wireless reveals its second-quarter earnings.
Spotify generates more revenue for rights owners, however. According to calculations by Billboard's Ed Christman, Spotify was distributors' sixth-largest account in 2012 with a 1.7% share of the recorded music market. Muve Music was the No. 13 account with a 0.8% market share.
The two services' market shares differ because they are different types of companies. Spotify charges $9.99 per month (for mobile access) while Muve Music is bundled, free of charge, with Cricket Wireless service plans. Labels are willing to receive less per customer from a service that is bundled with a prepaid wireless service. For example, customers of prepaid wireless carrier MetroPCS can get Rhapsody for $5 per month, or half its regular price.
Spotify announced in December it had reached 1 million subscribers in the United States. It has not updated its U.S. subscriber count but has since passed six million global subscribers and 24 million active users.
Both Spotify and Muve experienced strong market share growth last year. Spotify increased its share from 0.4% to 1.7%. Muve Music doubled to 0.8% from 0.4%. Rhapsody dropped to 1.6% from 1.8%. Google had not yet launched its music subscription service, All Access.
Christman's figures, based on distributors' market shares at the end of 2012, are not exactly current. But given the fact that Spotify had more than twice Muve Music's market share at the end of December and both services have continued to add subscribers at a good clip, it's fairly safe to say Spotify's market share is still tops in the U.S. market.