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