Who says nobody will consider paying for streaming music? Thumbplay Music, which offers unlimited music streaming apps for a monthly subscription across iPhone (iTunes link), Android, and Blackberry, reports that its smartphone apps have been downloaded 500,000 times since June. Thumbplay won’t say how many of those downloads turn into paying customers (you get a free trial before having to start paying $9.99 a month), but even if it’s only 10 percent, that’s $500,000 a month in revenues (although even that may be way too generous).
What’s even more notable is that Thumbplay’s users are pretty evenly distributed across the three smartphone platforms. The iPhone rules with 39 percent (where Thumbplay is one of the top hundred “free” music apps), but Blackberry is second with 36 percent. Android makes up 25 percent of users. “We are big believers in RIM as an application device,” says CEO Evan Schwartz. (It helps that Thumbplay launched first on Blackberry, has little competition there among music apps, and is often a featured app on the Blackberry marketplace). Schwartz says the conversion rates across each platform is roughly the same.
Thumbplay Music also offers desktop apps, but 90 percent of the songs its streams are on smartphones. It’s customers are 70 percent male, with most of them being 25 to 34 years old. And the top 20 songs only make up 5 percent of all songs played.
Thumbplay got its start in 2004 selling ringtone downloads for feature phones, and then progressing to full songs and videos. Its started Thumbplay Music this year to focus on smartphones, where 70 percent of its new customers are coming from. The established feature phone business, however, is still much larger. In the smartphone music subscription market, it faces competition from Pandora, Rhapsody, Rdio, Sirius, and others.