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Deezer Launches, After a Fashion, in the U.S.

Better late than never? After mobile carrier deals and a hi-fi service helped soft-launch the service, it now arrives to a crowded field.

Paris-based streaming service Deezer launched its service direct to customers in the U.S. today (July 19), after initial stateside offerings via partnerships with Cricket Wireless as well as Sonos and Bose home audio systems.

Already available in more than 180 countries, Deezer boasts the world’s largest on-demand streaming music catalog with more than 40 million songs, about 25 percent more than Spotify and Apple Music, though both rivals have (far) more total paying subscribers (30 million and 13 million, respectively) than Deezer’s 3 million — but the company is banking on its customization to woo new users.


“We don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all approach that’s currently seen in the U.S. market,” Chief International Officer Gerrit Schumann says.The company accomplishes this via its signature feature called Flow, an algorithm-based “personal soundtrack” that analyze a user’s library and listening history. Deezer also employs more than 50 music editors worldwide who personally curate playlistsSays Schumann, “It’s like having a radio station designed for you, wherever you go.”

As the company’s CEO in North America, Tyler Goldman, told Billboard in January, prospective customers are “not as interested in do-it-yourself products. They want highly programmed experiences. And they’re willing to pay for highly programmed experiences.”

The most recent publicly available information on the company’s financials showed rapid revenue growth but that its licensing costs were prohibitively expensive — a difficulty baked-in to the streaming industry at large. Those financials were part of a planned, later abandoned, IPO. Its CEO pointed to the savaging that Pandora’s stock received last October, when shares plunged 35 percent in a single day following worries of Apple Music’s ascent. (Pandora responded aggressively, acquiring pieces of the defunct streaming service Rdio — which was losing $2 million a day — with which it plans to build its own on-demand offering, and ousting CEO Brian McAndrews.)

The same month Goldman spoke to Billboard, the company raised $109 million in funding from Warner Music parent company Access Industries and the British mobile telecom Orange. That should at least keep the lights on.

While Deezer is entering a highly competitive market, two exceedingly viable streaming services have emerged in the past year — Apple Music and Tidal. While the latter was plagued by poor press for most of 2015, it has bounced back strongly with various exclusives from its extremely famous bench of artist owners. Apple Music boasts the imprimatur of the world’s most successful product company. What does Deezer have?