Slacker is on track to partner with a major telco provider later this year to offer its audio service to the company’s subscribers, CEO Jim Cady told me during an interview this week. Cady expects that the partnership, which sounds a lot like Cricket’s Muve Music venture, will net Slacker “million of paid subscribers.”
Slacker, which competes with both Pandora(s p) and Spotify, relaunched its service in February with a bigger focus on a general-consumer audience as well as mobile listening. Cady told me that Slacker used to be geared towards hardcore music fans, but now tries to appeal to everyone looking for a combination of a curated radio experience and a subscription music service.
That revamp seems to be paying off: the company has added 100,000 paying subscribers as well as a total of six million listeners to the fold. Cady didn’t want to tell me the total number of people who currently pay for Slacker, only stating that it was somewhere between 0.5 and 1 million. But he did point towards a big growth in mobile, with 3.5 million new listeners on mobile devices since the relaunch.
Given that kind of mobile momentum, doubling down on carrier relationships does make sense for Slacker. Cady said that the company already has its app bundled on select handsets, and has billing relationships with all major carriers in place.
He didn’t spell out the details of the upcoming carrier partnership, which Slacker plans to announce in the second half of this year, but the logical next step would be to offer Slacker’s service as a default radio and music package to all subscribers of a certain tier, or even a carrier’s entire customer base.
That’s something the prepaid wireless provider Cricket has pioneered in the US with its Muve Music service. The company has been selling Muve as part of the data plan for all of its Android phones, and it now has more than 1.4 million paying subscribers.
Another area of growth that Slacker is looking to is automotive integration. Slacker is already part of the Tesla S console, and Cady said that Tesla owners listen two to three times as much as the average Slacker user, with some even clocking more than 100 listening hours a month.
Cady said that the car is an ideal platform for Slacker because it uses a more radio-like model. The service offers curated radio stations with DJS announcing titles, and even has news programming and other non-music content – all of which works great in the car. Said Cady: “People want to listen to more than just music.”