The fat lady has sung for Muve Music: The popular prepaid music service from AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless will officially shut down this month, to be replaced with music streaming and download service Deezer.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) acquired prepaid wireless operator Cricket Communications early last year and relaunched the brand in May. At that time, it said it was exploring alternative music options to Muve, which Cricket launched in 2010, racking up more than 2 million customers. Its new, exclusive partner is Deezer, which has gained popularity in Europe, but has yet to launch in the US. (See AT&T to Turn Down Muve's Music?, AT&T Plans a Prepaid Cricket Attack and Will AT&T Muve to the Music?)
Muve offered unlimited music downloads, but only for Cricket's highest-tier data plans, while Deezer includes both downloads and streaming music and is available for all Cricket users for an additional $6 per month.
Deezer has more than 35 million songs for download and 30,000 Internet radio stations, and claims 16 million users worldwide. The company, based in France, will also acquire some of Muve's IP and employees, but terms were not disclosed. (See Orange Teams for Digital Music Service.)
Cricket plans to offer a free trial of Deezer on January 31 and discontinue Muve on February 7. New and existing customers will get to try out the service for two weeks, while those Cricket customers who switch to its "new GSM network" -- a.k.a. AT&T's 3G network -- will get an extended free trial. The extra incentive is because Cricket is shutting down its legacy CDMA network on March 15 and plans to have it completely decommissioned by September 15. (See FCC Green-Lights AT&T's Leap Buy.)
Muve customers will also be able to transfer their existing music library to Deezer. That's good news, as they might have racked up thousands of downloads over the years, all of which will remain in their possession as long as they subscribe to Deezer for $6 per month.
While Muve was short-lived, it helped reignite the market for mobile music. Operators have tried in the past to offer their own services, but had little success. Now they are finding that there is interest, but partnerships are the best route to market. Coupled with creative pricing plans and promotions, interest in mobile music has really taken off. (See Music to My Mobile.)
In the US, AT&T has a deal with Beats for a family music subscription service, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has a partnership with Deezer competitor Spotify and T-Mobile US Inc. offers free access to 14 music services that won't count against data caps. (See T-Mobile Offers 14 Streaming Music Apps Data-Free, AT&T Brings Beats Music to Families and T-Mobile: You, Seven Nights & the Music.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading