Muve Music, the on-demand music subscription service of Cricket Wireless, has surpassed two million subscribers in the United States. The figure covers only the United States and does not include any subscribers acquired by the Muve-powered subscription service of Brazilian mobile carrier TIM.
“This is the leading carrier model,” said Tyler Wallis, Muve Music senior vice president and general manager, in a statement. Wallis replaced Jeff Toig, the executive who oversaw the development of Muve, which launched in January 2011. Toig recently took the newly created position of Chief Business Officer at SoundCloud. “We’re growing with Cricket and are excited about the prospect of adding additional carriers in the future.”
Muve claims to be the most popular — in terms of subscriptions — on-demand subscription service in the United States. Spotify is the only service that could rival Muve’s two million subscriptions, but the company has not publicly updated its figure of one million U.S. subscribers in nearly two years. Worldwide, Spotify has over six million subscribers, although that number is also long overdue for an update. Rhapsody has not updated its last figure of one million subscribers in nearly two years.
Cricket Wireless, whose acquisition by AT&T this past July is awaiting regulatory approval, developed Muve Music to improve average revenue per user (ARPU) and help retain subscribers. It’s an innovative approach: the service comes free and is bundled with unlimited voice, text and data plans. Consumers pay one price and get a mobile plan with unlimited music.
While Muve Music has been a bright spot for both Cricket Wireless and digital music in general, it has not succeeded in helping Cricket Wireless grow its subscriber base. During the ten quarters Muve Music has been available, Cricket Wireless has lost more subscribers than it has gained.
In the first five quarters Muve Music was available to Cricket subscribers, Cricket Wireless had a net gain of 775,000 mobile subscribers. But it had a net loss of 790,000 subscribers in the successive five quarters, resulting in a net loss of 15,000 subscribers lost over the last ten quarters. Of course, mobile subscribers leave for a variety of reasons, and the net loss could have been worse without the help of Muve Music.
However, Muve can share the credit in growing ARPU from $38.14 per month in the quarter before launch to $44.89 per month in the most recent quarter.
Subscriber usage is also a mix of good and bad. Cricket subscribers who use Muve Music appear to enjoy the service. On average, active users listen to the service for 30 hours per month. But not all Muve Music subscribers actively use the service. As noted in a recent Billboard magazine article, just 55% of Muve Music subscribers used the service in May, the latest period for which Billboard was given a figure.