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August 4, 2015

ROK Mobile signs Three for music MVNO

Music streaming is increasingly being bundled with other services.

By Alexander Sword

ROK Mobile is working with mobile operator Three to launch a music-focused mobile network in the UK.

The mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) will run on Three’s network to provide a combined mobile and music streaming package, with Three providing wholesale texts, minutes and data.

ROK Mobile was launched in the US in 2014, with co-founders Jonathan Kendrick and John Paul DeJoria now aiming to replicate its success in the UK.

There is an increasing trend towards bundling music streaming with other services. In the telecoms world, Vodafone offers Spotify as part of its Red Value bundle. Spotify is also working with US carrier Sprint to bundle Spotify’s service with Sprint mobile plans.

Tie-ups between telcos and streaming services provide mutual advantages: the telco has a stronger offering for its customers and the streaming service gains exposure to the telco’s existing customers.

ROK Mobile, as a stand-alone offering, will have to contend with players in both the MVNO and streaming market.

"It’s an interesting creative bundling, but they are launching into a crowded market," Martin Garner, SVP at CCS Insight, told CBR. "There are a lot of streaming services and a lot of MVNOs.

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"The UK MVNO market is already saturated and is getting worse. It’s going to be quite hard to stand out from the crowd.

"At the moment, people are accustomed to buying music completely separately [to telecoms services]."

Outside of telecoms, Amazon last week added a streaming service with one million tracks to the Amazon Prime bundle. In its predictions for 2015 and beyond, CCS Insight suggested that Amazon might start an MVNOP and add mobile services to Amazon Prime.

James Kendrick, Director of ROK Mobile, commented: "ROK Mobile is bringing something new to the market and appealing to an audience that feels music should be a basic feature of any mobile internet service."

"To see another consumer music streaming service launching can only be a good thing for music fans," added Andy Hill, CEO of I Like Music.

"The more streaming services that are available, the more choice there is and the more competitive the streaming providers will become.

"It’s a win-win for the consumer, but as it has been well documented that the flip side is a detrimental effect on the net royalties which the artists and songwriters receive through such services as opposed to downloads or physical sales."

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