Billboard reports that Google is currently in discussions with Verizon Wireless to enable carrier billing for Google Play Music All Access. This would allow Verizon customers to charge the monthly subscription fee for Google's all-you-can-eat on-demand music service directly to their monthly bill instead of a credit card. This could be handy for Google users who live off of Google Play cards and don't want credit card information stored in their account.
The magazine believes Verizon may be pushing into a deal with Google thanks to recent discussions made between rival AT&T and Beats Music's digital music service, and its "absorption" of Muve Music through its acquisition of Leap Wireless/Cricket. Verizon may see Google's music service as a way to reel in new customers much like Muve helped Leap Wireless grow its Cricket cellphone business.
“Carriers are looking to find ways to reduce churn by offering a sticky service, while also increasing their average revenue per user," an unnamed executive told Billboard. “Muve has demonstrated that music can do that."
Naturally, carrier billing will be a great platform from which Google can promote its subscription-based music service. The company could even take advantage of Verizon's brick-and-mortar stores to help sell subscriptions – perhaps even offer a free month's trial – when customers wander in looking to purchase a new phone. Verizon currently has around 100 million wireless subscribers.
For now talks are reportedly in the early stages. Verizon has been down this road before with other music services like Radio, Slacker Rdio and Rhapsody. Currently, customers can subscribe to Slacker's "Plus" plan for $3.99 per month, which doesn't provide on-demand music, doesn't allow download play and doesn't allow users to create playlists. Rdio does not offer carrier billing nor does Rhapsody or Spotify.
With a Google Music All Access subscription, Verizon customers would have access to an on-demand library of over 18 million songs, be able to create personalized radio stations, listen to stations with unlimited skips, and get smart recommendations based on the listener's taste. This is in addition to uploading and streaming up to 20,000 music files as offered before the subscription service went live.
Currently, the big debate between Google and Verizon, it seems, is who will carry the cost of paying music companies during the user's month of free access. "Verizon doesn’t want to pick up the full tab," an unnamed exec said. "Google is arguing that its service will help Verizon attract new customers. Meanwhile, rights holders are eager to get the deal done so the market can grow."
Last week reports surfaced stating that AT&T may keep the Muve Music brand, which currently has 1.7 million subscribers, once the service launches later this year. AT&T may also ink a deal with Beats Audio to offer a premium music service. Originally, Muve Music was packaged free of charge with Cricket Wireless' pay-as-you-go mobile subscription plans. AT&T purchased parent company Leap Wireless for around $4 billion – which includes debt -- in early July.
Verizon already offers carrier billing on Google Play. Customers can purchase movies, TV shows, ebooks, apps and more by choosing the carrier billing option at checkout. This is only enabled on the subscriber's Verizon-connected device, and isn't available on any additional non-Verizon Android device the customer may own.