monsterbeatsblack023When Beats announced its plans for a streaming music service named Daisy earlier this year, the emphasis was on music discovery features as a way to stand out from the crowd.

At the time, we thought there’d have to be more in its arsenal than that, with every other streaming service also ramping up on discovery. Now we know what else Beats may be bringing to the party: a high-profile bundling deal with US telco AT&T.

CNET reported yesterday that Beats boss Jimmy Iovine has been “in talks with top execs from the major music labels and AT&T” about bundling Daisy with AT&T’s data plans, giving people a limited free trial then upselling them to paid subscriptions.

“On the table now, sources say, is how much free music to offer and who would eat the costs,” claims the report. Questions that may take some time to be answered to everyone’s satisfaction, although the report warns that other telcos could be in the running for the bundling deal.

While such a partnership would get Daisy off to a running start when it launches later in the year, it’s not a new idea.

Rhapsody and Verizon Wireless were working together back in 2008 in the US on a joint music service, for example, while more recently Rhapsody inked a deal with AT&T to enable the latter’s customers to pay for its service through their mobile bills. Meanwhile, Mog – now owned by Beats and forming the basis for Daisy – was pre-installed on several of AT&T’s first 4G smartphones in 2011.

Reports that Beats is looking to update and expand this partnership in 2013 will ensure that rivals including Rhapsody, Spotify and Rdio redouble their efforts to land a big US telco bundling deal.

Key questions: are they all shooting for simple trial-then-subscribe distribution? Or is 2013 the year when the big telcos will look at the growth of Muve Music on their smaller rival Cricket Wireless – 1.1m subscribers and counting – and strike a more-ambitious deal to bundle the cost of a streaming subscription into tariffs on a longer-term basis?