Muve Music, the leading paid U.S. subscription play, bundled as part of the Cricket Wireless service, is being put up for sale according to people familiar with early discussions. News of the sale discussions was first reported by New York Times.
Billboard had first been made aware of the concerns with Muve’s future in recent weeks but since then discussions about a potential sale or Muve spin-off have progressed. Cricket spokesman Greg Lund was unavailable for comment.
Uncertainty about Muve’s future was first highlighted after last September’s departure of Jeff Toig, the senior VP in charge of Muve. Cricket, a prepaid mobile carrier, bundles the first-of-its kind music service with its all-you-can text, voice and data plans and has been particularly successful with the lower income end of the market. Tyler Wallis, SVP – Product and Marketing at Cricket Wireless, took over Toig’s leadership position at Muve, a Cricket spokesperson told Billboard at the time.
Toig, who left to join SoundCloud, left as uncertainty grew with regards the future of Muve after AT&T announced a deal to buy Cricket’s parent Leap Wireless last summer. The acquisition was approved by U.S. regulators in March. According to sources Muve Music had over 2 million subscribers at the end of last year, which would have made it the largest of the paid subscription services. But the company has not officially updated its subscriber numbers.
Spotify, the highest profile of the music subscription services, has up to 2 million subscribers according to sources. In fact, both Spotify and Beats Music have followed in Muve’s footsteps by bundling their music services with wireless partners. Spotify recently announced a deal with Sprint in the U.S. while Beats launched its service in January with AT&T as one of its main partners. It is not clear that AT&T executives would see any reason to keep two different music services according to industry insiders.