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AT&T's Cricket: Muve's Out, Deezer's In

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.


For more on mobile music, check out the dedicated services/apps content channel here on Light Reading.


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

Gabriel Brown 1/9/2015 | 8:44:15 AM
Re: Stick to Core Competencies A telco running a music service simply does not compute, as has been obvious to most people for about 15 years. Mobile operators spend a lot of money every cycle to re-learn that lesson. I now get Spotify bundled (for free, as in lunch) with my mobile plan. This seems a better model.

Owning video content -- especially sports rights -- is a different proposition and might still work out.
Phil_Britt 1/8/2015 | 9:50:34 PM
Stick to Core Competencies This is probably a good move for AT&T/Cricket if the company didn't consider this a core competency. It's makes more long term financial sense to stick to those core competencies than to try to be everything to everybody.
Mitch Wagner 1/8/2015 | 6:34:05 PM
Re: Reignite? Ah, yes of course. And it's good to see the operators leaning in to this trend. 
sarahthomas1011 1/8/2015 | 6:27:32 PM
Re: Reignite? Yes, I should've clarified to say operator's role/interest in the mobile music space. Like most things, it took off without them, but they're starting to find their place in the ecosystem.
Mitch Wagner 1/8/2015 | 6:25:01 PM
Reignite? "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."

Didn't Spotify and Rhapsody drive the mobile music market?
Mitch Wagner 1/8/2015 | 6:24:32 PM
Got to muve it muve it
sarahthomas1011 1/8/2015 | 6:04:23 PM
Musical chairs I was bummed AT&T wasn't going to invest in Muve, but this seems like a pretty good alternative. It works out cheaper than Muve in some cases, lets you carry over your collected tunes and has streaming or downloads. And, since it's through a partnership rather than ownership, there's less risk. Wonder what Deezer paid for it.

Anyone in Europe tried the service? Seems pretty successful there.
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