July 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Pros and Cons: If ‘Daisy’ Music Service Is Bundled with AT&T

daisy att

A widely-echoed report surfaced on CNET this week that “Daisy,” the upcoming context-driven music service that was recently spun off from Beats Electronics, and whose name has yet to be finalized, is trying to partner with AT&T to bundle its music service with cellphone plans. Billboard says Daisy is also talking to other carriers.

This bundling might or might not happen, but either way, it’s clearly part of Daisy’s plan to do for the on-demand music subscription what its progenitor, Beats, did for sound.

By that, Daisy does not mean “add a whole lot of bass,” the way Beats’ popular headphones do (not a dig — for many listeners, more bass is all good). Instead, Daisy wants to bring the on-demand music subscription to the mainstream in such a way that the mainstream will pay for it, as opposed to picking their way through YouTube for free.

On a general level, Daisy hopes to be “the music service with heart,” a goal it will reportedly pursue by tasking music experts and tastemakers with providing context around music, a combination of manual curation and algorithms. Many have tried aspects of Daisy’s approach, but we’re cautiously optimistic that it will push things forward for music subscriptions — which, after all, benefit culture.

Pros

  • Cricket Wireless has already proven with Muve Music that over 1.4 million Americans are willing to pay for unlimited music as part of their cellphone data plan.
  • To subscribe, music fans won’t have to whip out their credit cards and sign up for another recurring monthly charge; instead, they’d just be able to tick another box on ATT.com to add Daisy to their phones, computers, tablets, and/or televisions. One bill is easier to deal with than two.
  • AT&T has 107.3 million subscribers to its wireless data plans (.pdf), which could give Daisy just the jumpstart it needs to compete with services that have been around for years.
  • The name “Daisy” is not final, so it’s not too late for it to become “AT&T Unlimited Music” or something along those lines.
  • I have known Ian Rogers, the CEO of Daisy, since he was in charge of Yahoo Music approximately one million internet years ago, and he’s a smart guy. It doesn’t hurt, either, to have expertise from music insider Jimmy Iovine and Daisy Creative Chief Trent Reznor. AT&T has had years to pick Spotify or another service for bundling, but hasn’t done so yet, so it could be waiting for something like Daisy, which will ostensibly bring a new approach to the music subscription.

Cons

  • It’s likely that the only way this deal would be worth it to a powerhouse like AT&T is if “Daisy” music subscribers would have to stick with AT&T Wireless to keep their playlists and collection. In other words, bundling with a music service, from a cellphone provider perspective, is about “stickiness” — giving people another reason to stick with AT&T instead of switching to another provider. Consumers, however, would be more likely to sign up if they knew they could take their music with them.
  • One reason Cricket Wireless’s Muve Music has been so successful is that it bundles the service with all of its Android phones. Will AT&T be bold enough to do the same, right after it faced a firestorm of criticism for adding $0.61 to subscribers’ monthly bills? Unlike Cricket’s successful Muve service, Daisy on AT&T would likely be optional, just like Rhapsody on MetroPCS.
  • Many of its subscribers who would be interested in the service have already signed up with Rdio, Rhapsody, or Spotify, which also work with AT&T.
  • Why would AT&T choose to bundle Daisy with its data plans, when companies including Spotify are pursuing a similar strategy of bundling with carriers? In order to beat out Spotify (plus Rdio and Rhapsody, for that matter), Daisy might have to offer AT&T a better deal, which could affect its bottom line.
  • Nokia Comes With Music tried a similar strategy of bundling music with phones, and it didn’t end well.
We’re looking forward to checking out Daisy, whether with AT&T, another carrier, or on its own. For now, the company is keeping quiet about what its service will look like. Expectations are rather high — Billboard readers chose Daisy as the second-most-likely-to-succeed new music service of 2013, following Apple iTunes Radio, with which Daisy will not compete directly.

See also: What’s Up With ‘Daisy’ Music Service

(Image courtesy of Flickr/a river runs through)