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Deezer launches new discovery service, announces five million paying subscribers

By | Published on Thursday 7 November 2013


So the dudes from Deezer gathered digital and data junkies in Ronnie Scott’s in London yesterday to share some stat brags and talk up their new Hear This flim flam, which takes ‘discovery’ to “the next level” where, one would hope, there’s a better view to be had.

Most players in the fully on-demand streaming music domain have been competing by bigging up their discovery tools of late, of course, given that they all offer pretty much the same catalogue on pretty much the same devices for pretty much the same price.

Hear This will crunch a user’s own listening data, spy on their friends’ playlists and throw in the views of the firm’s own 50 strong editorial team to help consumers navigate the 30 million tracks in Deezer’s catalogue. It will be the ultimate discovery service don’t you know. Just like all the others.

Deezer founder Daniel Marhely told CMU: “Innovation is in our DNA. We want to help people build and discover their own unique music identity, which is why this year we are getting personal. The Hear This music feed is a game changer for us, pure innovation. We’re combining the best of Deezer – man and machine – to give users a unique experience that’s tailored exclusively to them”.

While Team Deezer got excited about Hear This, many of the journalists in attendance at the Ronnie Scott’s bash were more interested in the stats which, in the context of the streaming music market, seemed pretty impressive. Deezer now has five million paying subscribers, double the figure it had this time last year.

“Does that mean Deezer is catching up Spotify in the proper paying customer stakes?” the analysts wondered. Though it’s hard to know, because it’s over six months since Spotify declared six million premium users, and who knows how many have been added since? Though if Deezer is now nearly as big as Spotify, perhaps the PR people at the latter can persuade Thom Yorke et al to start declaring their rivals to be the “evil destroyers of music”.

There are other variables at play too that make it hard to assess how Deezer is doing compared to its higher profile rival, and what the stats tell us about the growth of the streaming music business in general. Deezer has pursued rapid global expansion and has been first to market in numerous territories. It remains to be seen if they can hold onto early adopters as Spotify et al catch up in terms of reach.

And, of course, that five million figure includes users who have, knowingly or otherwise, opted into Deezer’s premium option as a free add-on with a mobile phone package. It’s not clear how many Deezer users have been signed up this way, though 75% of all listening is on mobile, and the firm does now boast 25 tel co partnerships worldwide.

There is a suspicion that mobile bundle subscribers will be less prolific and less loyal users (some are likely to be entirely inactive). The former is actually a plus, streaming firms likely need less prolific (and therefore less expensive to service) users for their business to work.

However, loyalty might be an issue. Anecdotal evidence suggests there is already quite a bit of churn in the streaming music space, and if the agnostic playlisting services take off (making it easier for users to take playlists with them from one streaming set up to another) keeping customers may prove to be even more of a challenge. Though logic would suggest that more mainstream users would actually be more loyal than the early adopters who are already jumping ship.

Either way, Deezer boss Axel Dauchez was in typically bullish mood yesterday, declaring that: “Doubling the number of paid subscribers in twelve months sends a hugely encouraging signal that music streaming’s time is now. One year ago we pledged to launch Deezer worldwide because we felt music deserved to be truly global. One year on, we are proud to say that we have over-delivered on our promises, with more than five million subscribers across more than 180 countries and a team of expert editors around the world sharing their love and passion for music. But we’re not content to simply keep up with the world; we want to lead the charge”.