And oh-so-quietly, Muve Music just crossed 600,000 paying subscribers in the US. But this is one of the hardest models to celebrate, simply because Muve Music is only sold as a package that also includes essentials like voice, texting, and browsing. Which almost makes music like the gravy on top, and you just can’t order gravy by itself.
Which is exactly the point here.
“What’s powerful about this offering is that the music feels free,” Muve Music senior director of product John Bolton told the Guardian. “That’s important, because no one wants to pay for music.”
“And one year in, we have 600,000 paying subscribers, making us the second largest digital subscription service in the US.”
This isn’t an executive talking after one too many. It’s the guiding mantra for Muve. And just two weeks ago at SF MusicTech, Muve founder Jeff Toig said something very similar. “I think when you introduce price into the equation it gets very hard for most people,” Toig told a panel audience. “The second that you require plastic, you shrink the global opportunity for the consumption of music to a very small percentage of the population. And that’s a fundamental barrier.”
Here’s where Toig sounds just like Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, because both are essentially saying that piracy has already won – and now the challenge is to work around that reality. “Consumers are getting music in a way that feels free, because that’s the next best alternative for them anyways – which is to go to a computer, download it and get it illegally. So we need to give them music that feels free and we need to be able to pay the industry and ultimately pay the artists and the writers for the creation of their craft.”
In other words, forget about selling recorded music by itself, at least outside of niche plays like vinyl and collector’s items. “The big question has always been how you make money with digital music,” Bolton continued. “The answer is you don’t: you do it with other things like a wireless service, and voice, data and text messaging. We feel we’ve stumbled on something that’s a real breakthrough.”