Business Interviews

Q&A: Sam Lee, Deezer

By | Published on Wednesday 8 April 2015

Sam Lee

In the run up to CMU Insights @ The Great Escape, CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke will be talking to some of the people who will be contributing to the event this year. Today Sam Lee, UK & Ireland Editor for Deezer, who will explain how curation works at the streaming service when the spotlight falls on playlisting during our full-day conference strand Music Marketing Is Broken: Let’s Fix It.

CC: Tell us about your role at Deezer.
SL: I’m part of a team of around 50 Deezer editors across the world. We are responsible for personally curating and programming all of the editorial recommendations you see on Deezer, and I look after UK and Ireland.

CC: How do the editorial teams affect what we see on the Deezer platform?
SL: We are constantly on the look out for the best new music, and then we work with our Label Relations team to ensure it is on the service. The tracks that get suggested to you as a user on Deezer are the result of our algorithm, which learns what you like and what you don’t like, and then serves up new music as curated by us in the editorial team, as well as picking tracks from our huge library of tracks.

CC: Why do you think is important for digital services to have their own in-house editorial teams?
SL: I think that in an age where we have access to millions and millions of tracks – there are currently 35 million on Deezer – the challenge is to make it as easy as possible for users to navigate that content, and to find new tracks they don’t know but might like. Since launching in the UK in 2011, we’ve been able to build up a strong editorial voice for Deezer, and hopefully people now feel that they can trust our suggestions in the same way they would trust a respected music magazine or blog, and that helps greatly as they search for new things to listen to.

CC: Do artists and labels now PR you like media? Should they?
SL: Labels are really starting to understand the importance of playlisting on the service. Now more than ever they are approaching us and pitching tracks for inclusion in our weekly playlists, whereas previously it was more of an afterthought, with priority being given to other forms of editorial coverage. Because of our editorial slant we have always been open to being approached in the same way as more traditional forms of media, and playlists just give us another opportunity to promote the music we love.

CC: How does the editorial content you create fit in with playlists being created by third parties?
SL: The two are complementary, and we’re glad to see labels and brands using Deezer as a platform for their own content. That said, we will always lean towards our own original editorial content, but we’re certainly not going to refuse to promote any great playlists just because they have been put together by someone who isn’t a Deezer editor.

CC: How important are playlists for driving listening on the platform?
SL: Right now 37% of all daily streams on Deezer come via playlists, so they are hugely important to us and our users.

CMU Insights @ The Great Escape consists of four full-day conference strands sitting at the heart of The Great Escape Convention, which takes place in Brighton from 14-16 May. Full information about this year’s programme is here.