Muve Says It Out Loud: “No One Wants to Pay for Music…”

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.”

19 Responses

  1. @tkop

    “No one wants to pay for music.” is a completely ignorant statement. Plenty of people still buy physical distribution and millions pay for downloads.

    The trouble is that the industry does have to deal with streaming services that allow for free consumption of content. It is not that people do not want to pay for a product, it is the fact that someone else is giving it to them for free.

    • Karen - Shut Up Ron

      I’ve stopped commenting on DMN because there are simply too many readers like this. Only have 10 fingers and 24 hours every day.

      • @tkop

        You stopped commenting aside from the comment you just left in an attepmt to degregade someone elses’ opinion.

        • Karen

          Too true…
          But seriously, streaming services are “the problem”? I’m really curious who is saying this? An artist, a manager, a label owner? Since when was there one problem? Since when was using progressive techology to fight truly disruptive technology a part of “the problem”? I’m tired.

      • @tkop

        You stopped commenting aside from the comment you just left in an attempt to degregade someone elses’ opinion.

  2. Whatever

    Actually , given the choice, no one wants to pay for anything.
    In reality , the “No one wants to pay for music” being hammered by Spotify,Muve etc.. just translates as ” We should be the only ones making money out of this. If you’re really really nice, we’ll (perhaps) give you 0,00000001 $ per stream/download, because, hey , no one wants to pay for your music”

    • Yves Villeneuve

      I can’t help my self but openly agree with you, especially your first statement.

      • Visitor

        Thank you.
        Let’s see how they feel if users figure out a way to hack their streaming service and get it for free. Suddenly their “tune” will change.
        – Versus

  3. Visitor

    “No one wants to pay for music.”
    No one wants to pay for food, rent, clothing, or anything else for that matter, but they will if necessary.
    – Versus

  4. mdti

    So may be it should be understood as
    “No one really needs to pay for music”….

  5. tim potocic

    Our music will be made available to anyone who thinks it value is zero . If people wish to steal tracks for free that is their decision to break the law and steal from artists. We will not make access to music free for anyone unless our artists wish to do so…… Which we will ultimately discourage and sooner than later those artists will not be our artist anymore. Music doesn not equal free, It is a consumable that make people happy just like texting, talking on the phone etc. Why does texting and using bandwidth t email cost money? I pose this question to your entire service model Mr Muve? What if someone comes around next year and makes a free mobile service to everyone in the world? We you think that is fair?

  6. GD

    XM is another great example. How many of their customers have just bundled it in to their car loan?

  7. difference:

    No one wants to pay for music that Muve can comprehend.

  8. radio & records vet

    Muve has a point. Yes, plenty of people still purchase recordings of music, as evidenced by any number of data sets. But that doesn’t appear to be what Bolton is talking about.
    Many of us grew up in an era of free tv, and free radio…. free that is to the consumer, who was willing to put up with advertising. I’ve spent considerable time over the past few decades marching between commercial and non-comm programming. I’ve found that music intensive non-comm programming is the least likely to drive contributions, unless it’s classical.. and that generation is fast dying off.
    Free is a perception. I have used the free versions of Pandora and Spotify since they launched. I got a tablet for xmas. It has Pandora on it. I don’t pay for it. The music is therefore, “free.” This is no different than how technology has served us for the past century. If someone purchases the technology, they expect the content to be free – for the most part.
    I’ve read data that indicates the average American purchases about a dozen albums worth of music a year – right? So, what’s that amount to? $120? 120 singles? They get most free by trading with friends and family – that’s nothing new. And they “hear” and “see” most of their music for free via radio, tv, and the internet … so yeah, I agree with the assessment by Muve.

  9. mdti

    funny, i bought more Blu-Rays in 1 month than DVD in 10 years…. quality is something i’m more than ok to pay for.

    • mdti

      CD and mp3 being “bad quality”, there is no way i pay for them (i don’t buy music anymore for quite a while now — and i don’t download for even longer (i’m not buying cd, it is not to end up with stupid awful mp3 cr*p)…
      Of course noone wants to pay for bad quality!!!

  10. Gabe

    I just think that paying 55 or 65 dollars monthly basically to get major’s shitty tunes its not a good deal :)