Pressure builds on freemium model as Deezer launches paid-only in the US

Deezer has launched in the US this week with one notable omission – it doesn’t have a free tier.

Users are being offered a 30-day free trial, with a $9.99 a month premium version the only option available after that.

Since launching in France in 2007, Deezer has established itself in the UK and elsewhere around Europe.

Over 6.3 million users are said to have signed up to its freemium ad-supported tier or premium ad-free option.

In the US, it has big competition in established players Spotify and Apple Music, as well as Tidal and its high-profile backers.

However, Deezer’s arrival comes at a time when at least one major label is in negotiations with Spotify over long-term licensing, with pressure building over premium content being locked off from its freemium version.

The freemium version that both Apple, Tidal and now Deezer don’t have. Will the arrival of a third premium-only competitor have any impact on the label’s negotiations with Spotify?

Deezer’s US offering includes 40 million songs and 40,000 podcasts.

The US rollout is being led by Deezer’s London-based Chief International Officer, Gerrit Schumann, after the company’s US CEO Tyler Goldman left a few months ago. His replacement will be announced in a few months.

“There were other opportunities to do this, but we didn’t feel like the timing was right. Now, in terms of licensing, markets, the demand and our recent funding round, everything is coming together.”

gerrit schumann, deezer

Discussing the launch, Schumann told TechCrunch: “There were other opportunities to do this, but we did’t feel like the timing was right.

“Now, in terms of licensing, markets, the demand and our recent funding round, everything is coming together.”

Deezer has been considering launching stateside without a free tier since 2012 when the then CEO Axel Dauchez said he wasn’t “100% sure we have to use a free service as a recruitment channel in the US.”

Since then, Deezer has had US presence after acquiring Cricket’s free music service Muve from AT&T and podcast platform Stitcher, which has since been sold to Scripps, although the podcasts are still available on Deezer.

In 2014, Deezer partnered with Sonos to launch a high-definition subscription service to the audio speaker’s US users for $19.99, which was rolled out globally last year.

After failing its IPO last year due to lack of interest from investors, the streaming service raised $109m in funding instead from Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries (for the second time) and Orange.

Deezer lost just under $100m (€87m) in the three-and-a-half years from 2012 to end of June 2015 alone.

Between 2012 and 2014, it paid out $23m (€20.6m) in unallocated advances (breakage) to record companies – out of €257m ($287m) total advances in the period.

Music Business Worldwide

Related Posts