Deezer’s new Middle East deal is not good news for Spotify or Apple

This was somewhat overlooked in reports of Deezer’s new nine-figure funding round the other week.

One of the streaming company’s new investors, Rotana Group, owns what is claimed to be the biggest record company in the Middle East, Rotana Records.

As part of its funding deal, Deezer announced a distribution agreement with Rotana across the Middle East and North Africa – including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates – but didn’t go into much further detail.

Now we know: Deezer has confirmed to MBW that this distribution agreement is a completely exclusive one, meaning that soon the only place you’ll be able to stream Rotana’s music in the region will be on the French-born platform.

Deezer has clarified that there are some legacy agreements which will remain in play for the coming few months but, as they expire, the firm will become the sole digital distributer of Rotana’s music audio and video content in MENA.

A Deezer spokesperson told MBW: “We’re excited to work with Rotana. We have a clear ‘local hero’ approach, and the distribution agreement enables us to embrace local artists and music scenes like never before.

“There’s a huge growth potential in streaming in the region and we look forward to being in the driving seat on that journey.”

“Deezer is hoping to get a head start on Spotify in the Middle East, but even with this exclusive deal it faces serious competition from dominant local player Anghami.”

Mark Mulligan, Midia

Midia Research this week released a new report showing that the current streaming market leader in the Middle East is Anghami, which has much of the most important local content on its service.

“As western markets edge towards maturity, labels and streaming services need emerging markets to deliver growth to sustain the momentum,” Midia founder Mark Mulligan told MBW.

“With the exception of Latin America, local players – Tencent, KKBox, Line etc. – are the platforms that have succeeded in emerging markets, not Apple or Spotify.

“Deezer is hoping to get a head start on Spotify in the Middle East, but even with this exclusive deal it faces serious competition from dominant local player Anghami.

“It might just be that it won’t be the Spotifys and Apples that crack the emerging markets, but instead local players with local expertise, relationships and content.”

Midia reports that Anghami currently has approximately 50m total users in the Middle East, up from 30m last year.

Total paid music subscribers in the Middle East at the close of last year, says Midia, stood at 1.3m.

Apple Music and Deezer, it estimates, currently account for a little over half a million subscribers across the region.

Spotify is yet to launch in the Middle East – although earlier this year, the company was advertising for a Senior Editor based in Dubai, in addition to a Senior Editor for Arab Music Culture based in its New York office.Music Business Worldwide

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