T-Mobile ends data charges for streaming music

Mobile carrier also announces new Internet radio service through a partnership with Rhapsody

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 19, 2014
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T-Mobile made a couple of interesting announcements today at its Uncarrier 5.0 event in Seattle, both involving music streaming for its customers. I  think we should  actually start with the second one, because its, to me, the more important move of the two.

T-Mobile has announced that it is going to allow its Simple Choice customers to stream music from a wide variety of services, including Pandora, Rhapsody, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Slacker, and Spotify, and the carrier will not be counted toward a customer's data plan.

This also includes music services from T-Mobile partners, such as Samsung’s Milk Music and the forthcoming Beatport music app from SFX.

“As a committed music freak, I’m personally outraged at the way the other guys are using the music you love to lure you into over-priced plans with sweet ‘promotional offers’ that quickly roll into higher prices or trigger those absurd overage charges,” T-Mobile CEO and President John Legere, said. “Music should be free of all that. Music should have no limits"

This move by T-Mobile could be a big, big deal. Music streaming, as I am sure you are aware, has become big business. According to Mary Meeker's 2014 Internet trends report, for the first time ever digital track sales actually declined year to year, though streaming is on the rise. Streaming was up 32%, while digital track sales went down 6%.

However there is one thing standing in the way: data plans. According to a study cited by T-Mobile, 37% of people say they avoid streaming on their phones because they fear that they’ll use up their data and run into overage charges. 

Now T-Mobile could become the go-to carrier for music lovers. If this program is successful enough, perhaps other carriers could follow suit, and maybe, just maybe, soon none of us will be paying anything extra for music streaming. Sounds pretty great to me!

As for the other music streaming-related news, T-Mobile also announced that it is partnering with Rhapsody for a new Internet radio service called unRadio. The service will be ad free, let users skip as much as they want, choose their own music and replay songs any time.

Users can also create their own stations, live stream radio stations, and use a feature called TrackMatch, which allows users to create stations around songs that are playing around them.

Simple Choise T-Mobile customers will be getting unRadio for free starting June 23rd, while other customers will have to pay $4, which is discounted rate. T-Mobile did not say how long the promotion will last, or how much unRadio will cost when it is over.

There are a lot of carriers out there to choose from, but I wonder if T-Mobile may have just found the prescription for getting people's attention.

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