Light Reading

AT&T Brings Beats Music to Families

Sarah Thomas
1/13/2014
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AT&T will soon begin offering its first premium music subscription service, born from a two-year partnership with Beats Audio and developed especially for families.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has announced a deal with Jimmy Iovine's Beats Electronics to launch a new music streaming service for families, Beats Music Family, on January 21. The service allows five family members using up to 10 devices to stream or download an unlimited number of songs for $15 per month after a 90-day free trial. Individual customers can get the same access (using up to three devices) for $10 per month after 30 days free.

Through Beats Music, AT&T customers will have access to more than 20 million songs. The carrier say it's differentiating its service from the bevy of music apps already on the market with content curated by artists and music professionals and personalized to different occasions, artists, and themes.

Why this matters
There have been rumors of a forthcoming premium AT&T streaming music service for six months now, but the carrier says it has been working with Beats for two years -- since Beats acquired online streaming music service MOG -- to build this exclusive subscription service. In the meantime, AT&T is also set to acquire another music option, Muve Music, through its purchase of Leap Wireless. The carrier hasn't outlined its plans for Muve once the acquisition closes, but it could maintain the service for its prepaid customers. (See Will AT&T Muve to the Music?)

Carrier-provided mobile music has suffered from a lot of false starts in the past, never really taking off due to the number of alternative -- and free -- apps. In fact, Muve is one of the few successful examples of such a service. AT&T believes with its low price point, huge customer base, integrated billing, and the power of the Beats brand, it can change the industry dynamics.

AT&T also didn't indicate whether Beats Music will be part of its newly announced toll-free data program: If it is, the data consumed by those using the music service would not count against their data caps. Streaming music is a big traffic driver over the LTE network, but including it in the toll-free program could incite the wrath of consumer groups that say AT&T is creating an uneven playing field, as it would encourage customers to purchase AT&T's own service instead of premium versions of Pandora or Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iTunes Radio, for example. (See AT&T Toll-Free Data: Innovation or Rip-Off?)

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 3:35:31 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
I don't disagree, I just don't see how you put the genie back now, as it were.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 3:13:36 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
Sounds like you and Mendyk agree there. Music ain't what it used to be! :)

The radio drives me nuts too, playing the same songs over and over again. Pandora isn't much better. I guess with Beats, you're choosing the songs, so you can't complain. How it does search and discoverability will be important indicators of its success.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 3:10:18 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
FWIW, ABI says there will be 191 million paid online music subscribers by 2019. Wonder what that number is today...doubt it is anywhere close. http://www.bloomberg.com/video/191m-number-of-online-music-subscribers-by-2019-cbMPsit0QASkw6nYfvvyDQ.html
ScottEStewart0101
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ScottEStewart0101,
User Rank: Lightning
1/13/2014 | 3:06:58 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
This is why I use internet radio. I learned in college through music classes that the pop/country radio stations are paid to play certain songs over and over. The record labels have been selecting what's on the top 100 for decades now. With artists not writing their own music, or colaborating with 5-6 song writers to make their album, it's become a shameful way to get to the top of the charts. Even radio request lines are only playing top chart music. 

I use internet radio to find new artists without ads. Sometimes you find them on indie channels that are broadcast on local stations only available via TuneIn. Even British stations are playing more selection of music than American stations.

One trend I see, which is very annoying.. is that teens have bought into the "buy one hit track" option on internet services. They claim to be fans of an artist, yet they have never listened to an entire album. Worst yet, they listen to maybe 30 seconds of a song and then go to something else. It's very troubling when it comes to real music appreciation that we gave artists in the 90's. 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/13/2014 | 2:47:44 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
Yes -- we need to put the "starving" back into "starving artists." The world needs more itinerant content farmers and sharecroppers.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 2:41:09 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
Too late now! I think that horse bolted a long time ago.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 2:39:08 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
I'm cool with it.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 2:37:42 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
I like the idea of the model you are suggesting (and definitely on the ebook front, too). On AT&T, you only get to keep your downloaded songs as long as you subscribe to Beats Music, but if they required both the parties sharing to be subscribers, I don't see what they'd have to lose. Beats' big focus is on expert-curated playlists, but it's been well documented the people value friends' recommendations as much, if not more.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/13/2014 | 2:11:58 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
Is anyone else creeped out by the abject commoditization of what is supposed to be an art form?
ScottEStewart0101
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ScottEStewart0101,
User Rank: Lightning
1/13/2014 | 1:41:07 PM
Re: Muve & toll-free data
Do you see this possibly starting a new type of service like library sharing? ebook services are pushing book lending. It would be interesting if a service would allow friends to "lend" or "borrow" digital albums via streaming. The ability of this new service to allow downloads for streaming later, seems to be near that line of thinking. 

If I could sign up 5 friends to my iTunes Match, that also have itunes Match, where I could stream their albums or "borrow" them, I'd be more inclined to discover new albums far more effectively than through radio services. This is what Ping was supposed to do, but never picked up steam. 

Obviously the ability to see what your friends stream from your library, or a circle of libraries would be more interesting than watching your friend's facebook. Hopefully, the music industry will be as inovative as the ebook industry soon. 
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