Sprint strikes deal with streaming music service Spotify, adds discount for Framily members

NEW YORK--Sprint (NYSE: S) announced a partnership with streaming music service Spotify as part of a wide range of music and audio-related announcements at a media event here dubbed "Hear It For Yourself."

Starting May 9, all customers on Sprint's Framily calling plans will get a free six-month trial of Spotify. Once the trial is over, they will get Spotify at the discounted rate of $7.99 per month for Framily calling circles of 1-5 members; for 6-10 member circles, the price drops to $4.99 per month. Non-Framily customers will get a three-month trial and can pay $9.99 per month after that. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said it was the largest deal the company has ever done.

Earlier this morning as part of its first-quarter results, in which Sprint lost 231,000 postpaid customers, Sprint touted progress with its Framily plans, which it introduced in January. The plans rewards customers who add additional lines of service with lower monthly pricing. Sprint said that it now counts close to 3 million customers on its Framily plans out of its 54 million total customers.

Other carriers are also making movies in the streaming music world. AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) announced in January that it would offer the new Beats Music streaming service at a discount to its family plan customers.

Beats Music features a catalog of more than 20 million fully licensed songs from all the major labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, as well as all independent labels. The service offers unlimited access to curated music (both streaming and downloaded for offline listening) of the songs, albums and playlists. In addition to personalization technology, Beats Music uses human experts to curate hand-picked playlists while streaming.

Under the deal with AT&T, Beats Music is available to AT&T wireless customers on a multi-line account for $14.99 per month. AT&T and Beats Music have said up to five family members across 10 devices can access the Beats Music service and get their own personal music on their own devices.

Sprint made several other audio-related announcements, including a new version of the HTC One smartphone with improved audio and its plans to launch HD Voice service nationwide.

Sprint also announced a new version of the HTC One M8 smartphone with Harman Kardon's Clari-Fi audio technology to improve audio quality. Harman Kardon earbuds, valued at $140, will be packaged with the HTC One (M8) Harman Kardon edition. The audio quality on the One M8, with its dual front-facing speakers, has already been praised, something HTC CEO Peter Chou noted at the event. He said that when partners like Sprint want to have something innovative, they come to HTC.

Earlier this month Harman announced that the 2015 Lexus NX will be the first vehicle to use its Clari-Fi technology, which it claims automatically analyzes and improves the audio quality of all types of modern compressed, digitalized music sources. Most MP3 files are compressed, for instance, which generally reduces audio quality. Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal said at the event that three to five years of work went into fixing the problem. The technology was first introduced in March.

This isn't the first time Sprint has worked with Harman Kardon. In late February Sprint became the exclusive U.S partner for the Harman's Onyx Studio wireless speaker system. At the time Sprint said the announcement would be the first in a series of initiatives coming this year from the carrier to bring premium audio to mobile devices. The Onyx Studio sells for $399.99 and connects to devices via Bluetooth. Sprint said it aimed to become a "one-stop shopping experience for music lovers, providing an array of devices, music apps and audio speakers."

Sprint also will launch HD Voice nationwide by the middle of the year. CEO Dan Hesse said expects 20 million customers with HD Voice-capable devices by the end of the year. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS)  launched HD Voice across its network in early 2013.

For more:
- see this CNET live blog
- see this release

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Article update April 29 to correct the spelling of Harman.

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