Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Surprise! Muve, the Music Subscription Service You Never Think About, Is Doing Okay.

If you’re a member of the musical digerati, Muve’s subscription service sounds a lot like other subscription services, but less attractive: For a monthly fee, you get all-you-can-eat music, but only if you’re using a nonsmartphone from third-tier wireless carrier Cricket.

To spell that out: Muve won’t work with your iPhone or iPod. And there’s no Web version, either.

No thanks, right? Not exactly: Cricket parent company Leap Wireless says that so far this year it has signed up 200,000 subscribers for its $55 a month plan, which includes unlimited voice, data, etc.

Those numbers make Muve either the second- or third-biggest music subscription service in the country: Rhapsody, which has been at this for years, says it has about 800,000 subscribers. And a month ago, Spotify had racked up 175,000 subs after just a few weeks in the U.S.

So Muve is doing something right, for someone. How are they doing it? Hard to tell from a distance, but the big take-aways seem to be:

Not everyone needs the full experience: Again, it’s worth noting that, until today, Cricket — which often targets less affluent customers — hasn’t offered the service for smartphones at all (it’s also now available for Android handsets for $65 a month). That means just about everyone who reads this story would turn their nose up at the offering from the get-go. But folks who read sites like this one tend to forget that there are lots and lots of people who don’t have cutting-edge tech, and lots of them don’t have smartphones. So for them, a feature phone with all-you-can-eat music is a big step up from their previous options, which were zilch.

Bundles really can work, and confusion isn’t a terrible thing: I spent the morning trying to compare and contrast Cricket’s $55-a-month Muve offer with its regular $55 a month offer. The big difference is that one works on smartphones and the other doesn’t, but you have to work at it to figure that out. I bet that many of Cricket’s customers don’t actually know what they’re getting. But if they’re happy, they’re happy.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald