French music streaming service Deezer is all set to launch in the United Kingdom having proved a big hit in its home market.
Established in summer 2007 and currently only available in France, Deezer has over 20 million users and a repertoire of 13 million licensed songs, according to the Paris-based company. Its U.K. launch is set to take place "over the next few days," Mark Foster, London-based managing director of Deezer U.K., tells Billboard.biz, although an exact date is yet to be confirmed. License deals with "all four majors and key independents" have either been agreed or are close to being finalized, adds Foster. He declined to discuss royalty rates.
"The U.K. is an extremely important music market as a source of talent, as a source of creativity and to be positioned here is a really important springboard for the future," explains Foster, who says Deezer is looking to expand into a further three (as-yet-unnamed) "European territories, potentially this year."
Unlike the French edition, Deezer in the U.K. will not feature an ad-funded, free to access model, but will offer subscription services at two different price points. They are: Premium, which allows unlimited streaming on any PC/Mac at a cost of £4.99 ($8.07) per month. And Premium+, which costs £9.99 ($16.16) per month and allows unlimited streaming on any PC/Mac and all handheld online or offline devices. U.K. consumers not signed up to the web-based service will, however, still be able to access the free Discovery Mode, which provides 30-second music clips, as well as a selection of Deezer's 30,000 radio channels. Like its French counterpart, Deezer U.K. will also have a strong editorial presence running weekly reviews, recommendations and artist biographies.
"Our philosophy is very much to move people into a subscription model because we want to get over the message that music has a value; that artists deserve to be paid for their work," says Foster, who cites the platform's editorial content as one of the ways in which it will distinguish itself from its rivals. At present, the leading streaming services in the U.K. include We7, Last FM and Spotify. Like other streaming platforms, Deezer users will be able to share playlists and artist recommendations via social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
"The U.K. market has a lot of people out there offering different types of services and ultimately the market will choose which services hit all the buttons," says Foster, who targets strategic brand partnerships, such as Deezer France's partnership with French Internet Service Provider and mobile carrier Orange, as a key factor in promoting and growing user numbers ( Billboard.biz, July 23, 2010).
"What Deezer offers is the functionality of making playlists and the enjoyment of being able to share your playlists and your music tastes with your friends ... [Plus] you've got the accessibility of Deezer being available on every device," continues Foster. In addition to home computers, Deezer, which operates via a web-based browser, will also be accessible on all smart phones, tablets, IP TVs and IP Sound Systems including Sonos and Logitech Squeezebox.
Asked how the service will compete with Apple's iCloud, which is not due to launch in the U.K. until early next year, according to speculative reports, Foster said: "Apple are a very big player in this space. But there are concerns about iCloud and piracy and whether it offers an opportunity to legitimize product that might not have been legally acquired. In terms of where we're operating we've got a very powerful product."
There are, however, no imminent plans for a U.S. launch, says Foster. "The timing of when and whether Deezer goes into the States will depend on a number of factors - economic factors, potential profitability and being able to negotiate correct deals with the labels," he says, "so it's too early to say."