In a move that is surely related to the growing competitiveness of music subscription services, Rhapsody announced a unique partnership with MetroPCS this morning that stands to shake things up a bit. The Seattle-based music entity struck a deal which allows Android users on the MetroPCS system to have unabated access to the Rhapsody Unlimited Music service. That’s a music catalog with roughly 12 million songs — by comparison, Spotify’s music catalog is roughly 15 million songs. It almost goes without saying that Rhapsody’s decision to partner with MetroPCS was driven not just by competition (there’s plenty) but from a need to have a new vehicle to help drive their cloud music service forward. The financial specifics of the deal were not disclosed, but both parties have plenty to gain from the partnership.
The service will be offered to MetroPCS customers with premium plans of $60 per month. MetroPCS users with monthly plans lower than premium can sign up for Rhapsody’s regular $10 per month subscription and have access to the same catalog on their mobile devices. From a consumer standpoint, that’s not a bad deal.
With MetroPCS existing at the lower tier of cellphone service in the United States with roughly 9.1 million subscribers, it stands to reason that their numbers will surely grow now that a cloud music service is attached to their plans. MetroPCS, which is the fifth largest mobile carrier in the nation, also needed a more enticing strategy to stay competitive as other mobile carriers like Virgin and AT&T continuously outmaneuver them.
For Rhapsody, the deal makes even more sense as companies like Spotify are moving into the market with appealing digital music subscription services. Rhapsody was seen for years to be at the forefront of digital music nationwide but much of their dominance in the area of cloud music services has disappeared. Pandora, Amazon, Apple, Spotify, and others have gained far more attention lately leaving the downtown Seattle firm in need of a bold move.
It’s too early to tell if Rhapsody can remain competitive in the long-run, but partnering with a recognizable mobile carrier like MetroPCS should certainly help boost their numbers. That is, if numbers are the only thing that matters.