Cricket Communications plans to capitalize on the success of its Muve subscription music service by spinning it off as a new company and licensing the platform to carriers around the world. The company already has one international licensing deal in place with an unnamed carrier, but Cricket feels more operators would find Muve attractive if they weren’t forced to buy it from another carrier, said Bill Ingram, EVP of Strategy for Cricket’s parent company Leap Wireless.
In the two years since it launched, Muve has attracted more than 1 million subscribers, making it the second-largest music subscription service in the U.S. behind Spotify – that’s despite the fact that Cricket is only a regional carrier mainly serving smaller U.S. cities.
In June, Cricket began packaging Muve into all of its smartphones plans, which explains why subscriptions ballooned by 500,000 in the last six months. But Ingram said that Muve has been a key feature in attracting new subscribers to the Cricket network, and expects between 40 and 50 percent of its customer eventually will sign up for a Muve plan.
Speaking at a Cisco System’s event at MWC, Ingram said the spin-off company would offer the music distribution, discoverability and licensing platform as a managed service, though operators would be free to name it whatever they liked as well as set their own rates. While Cricket includes the Muve subscription in the price of its plans, other operators may choose to make it an add-on service or offer more limited subscription plans.
There are a lot of mobile users that can’t afford or are simply unwilling to pay $1 or more per song, which is the digital music model iTunes established, Ingrams said. Muve’s flexibility would allow operators to start pricing music in much more accessible ways, for instance selling subscription for 10 cents a day or restricted plans for as low as 50 cents a month, Ingram said.