Last August, US telco Verizon Wireless launched a promotion with Apple to give subscribers to its ‘Verizon Unlimited’ mobile tariffs six months’ access to Apple Music. Now the pair are doubling down on their partnership with a proper ‘hard’ bundle of the music-streaming service.
“Starting January 17, Apple Music will be included in Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans,” announced Verizon overnight. The Beyond Unlimited plan starts at $50 a month per line, while the Above Unlimited plan starts at $60 a month. These customers will get full Apple Music subscriptions, although those on the lowest tier – the $40 Go Unlimited plan – will only get the six-month trial still.
Apple will be hoping that the partnership helps it build on its lead over Spotify in the US, with Apple Music thought to have overtaken its fierce rival for US subscribers last summer, as both reached the milestone of 22 million paid users there. Spotify still has a bigger reach in the US thanks to its free tier – at the end of September it reported 59.2 million monthly active users (MAUs) in North America (a figure that includes Canada, not just the US).
It’s rare to get detailed figures on how telco bundles (hard or soft – the latter being those that offer trials or promote a streaming service, rather than bundling it into the cost of a mobile plan) perform, let alone how the terms of those deals affect royalty payouts to music rightsholders. But as Verizon markets its unlimited plans to data-hungry modern smartphone users, Apple Music will have a new advantage in the world’s biggest music market.