From the Guardian 25/03/13 by Stuart Dredge:
In 2013, the world of streaming music is becoming increasingly crowded. There are the grizzled US veterans (Pandora, Rhapsody), newer upstarts (Spotify, Deezer, Rdio), consumer electronics giants (Xbox Music, Sony’s Music Unlimited, Samsung’s Music Hub) and regional players keen to expand (WiMP, Simfy).
Oh, and then there is the looming threat of competition from Apple, Google and Amazon – who are all reportedly in negotiations with music labels and publishers to launch streaming services – as well as headphone-maker Beats, which is promising its own Daisy offering by the end of the year.
It’s not a battleground for the faint-hearted, or for the poorly-funded. Of all the services above, Deezer has been the most aggressive in its global expansion, fuelled most recently by a $130m funding round in October 2012 from Access Industries, the parent company of major label Warner Music Group.
From its beginnings in France as a controversial (for rightsholders) streaming site named Blogmusik, Deezer has grown steadily to the point where it now claims more than 3m paying subscribers who listen to 60 hours a week each on average.
It was also one of the first streaming services to benefit from a tight partnership with a mobile operator – Orange in France in its case – to bundle the cost of a premium subscription into people’s monthly mobile tariffs.
I sat down with chief executive Axel Dauchez at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona to talk specifically about the mobile element to Deezer’s business, although the conversation ranged onto streaming music’s cannibalisation of download sales; criticism from music artists; and the potential for streaming services to help people discover more music.
Dauchez said mobile has been important for Deezer and its rivals – “it became the way to monetise the music” compared to their free web-based services – but he added that the company tries not to merely think of mobile as meaning mobile phones.
“We restrict too much the mobile to mobility,” says Dauchez. “If people pay 10 Euros a month, it’s for having access on every device: PC, tablet, mobile, car, TV… In any kind of location, you can find a way to listen to music.”
Dauchez is also keen on the notion that people assign different “missions” to the various music-playing devices that they own. For example, he said playing music on a TV or car stereo is often not just one person listening: “It’s social sharing within that space. You are playing music to other people.”
The implication being that the way a streaming music service is presented on/in these spaces has to reflect the likely usage. But what does that mean for mobile and tablet apps?
“Of course, one mission is mobility: listening to music wherever you are. But at Deezer we think there is something else that’s something to do with spare time,” said Dauchez.
That means people’s habit of taking their phone out when they have a spare minute or two, whether it’s to text friends, check social networks or play games. Deezer wants more people to see these idle moments also as a way “to enrich their music experience”.
How so? “Mobile can be a place for active discovery. You are in the tube, stuck in a waiting line… It’s the perfect moment to discover music, build your playlists, to share. We are trying to elaborate around that.”