Virgin Mobile announces music streaming partnership

Australian streaming music service Guvera has partnered with Virgin Australia to bring free subscriptions to customers, as well as 1GB of extra data per month.

Telecommunications provider Virgin Mobile is aiming to compete with Vodafone's Spotify and Telstra's Apple Music partnerships by signing a deal to bring customers access to music streaming service Guvera.

According to Virgin, the Australian-owned Guvera offers "unlimited music with no subscription cost", meaning the only cost involved will be the data used to stream the service.

In order to combat what it calls "data drain", however, the telco also announced plans to begin offering a bonus 1GB of data every month to existing and new post-paid customers, which the company equates to 21 hours of streaming, or 407 music tracks.

"The new partnership with Guvera and the launch of the ONE B1G GIG is the next step in our commitment to making mobile better," Virgin Mobile CEO David Scribner said in a statement.

"We've listened to the masses and solved the problem that scares off most users: The data drain. 1GB goes a long way -- in fact, 1GB gives you access to 407 tracks, or up to 21 hours of music on Guvera. This is peace of mind for music streamers. We haven't just provided our customers with access to an entertainment platform, but offered them free bonus data to support their mobile usage."

The bonus 1GB of data will be automatically added during billing within 48 hours of a customer downloading the Guvera app between October 8 and April 30, linking it with their mobile number, and actively streaming music over the mobile network every month.

Once a customer exceeds their monthly download allowance, however, the streaming service will charge on extra data usage.

Guvera, headquartered in the Gold Coast and founded in 2008 through investor funding, launched its Android and iOS apps in 2012, and last year signed a deal for its service to come preloaded on Lenovo mobile devices.

The service has more than 15 million users worldwide and operates in over 20 markets, the company told ZDNet in a statement.

Guvera CEO Darren Herft said the partnership with Virgin would improve Guvera's position in the highly competitive Australian streaming services market.

"Guvera's partnership with Virgin gives us access to a highly engaged audience of music lovers, ultimately boosting our member base and continuing our momentum in the Australian market," Herft said.

"Guvera now has over 15 million global users, and partnerships such as this play an important part in building awareness of what we can offer, both in terms of a quality listening experience and an innovative platform for brands to advertise.

"This partnership exemplifies what Guvera can do in partnership with the telecommunications industry, and we are excited about introducing this model to the more than 20 overseas markets that we operate in."

Rival telco Telstra, which shuttered its MOG music-streaming service in July, similarly offers 12-month subscriptions to Apple Music for its post-paid customers.

"We will give Australian music fans a great music experience as the only telco in Australia to offer Apple Music," CEO of Telstra, Andrew Penn announced during the company's FY15 results call in August.

Likewise, Vodafone Australia's recently updated data-focused AU$60, AU$80, and AU$100 Red post-paid mobile plans are now inclusive of 6- to 12-month Spotify or Stan subscriptions.

"Vodafone customers love data and our network built for streaming. We've seen their usage double over the last 12 months," said Vodafone Australia chief marketing officer Loo Fun Chee.

"Our plans prove that you don't have to spend big to get the data you need."

Vodafone Australia first partnered with Spotify a year ago, allowing its customers to use their data allowance to stream music ad-free from the service's catalogue.

"Our partnership with Spotify really brings our 4G network to life," Stephen Smyth, Vodafone's general manager of post-paid mobile, said in October last year. "Our customers will be able to make the most of Spotify Premium, which offers the ability to stream, find, and share music, on demand, on any device, completely ad-free."

Virgin's post-paid plan pricing and data allowances are now in line with its competitors in the telco space, with Optus, Virgin, and Vodafone all offering 500MB for AU$40 per month and 3GB for AU$60 per month.

Optus has yet to offer a streaming service partnership.