Ahead of next week’s public launch of French music streaming service Deezer in the UK, MD Mark Foster told new media age why the company has shunned an ad funded option.

Unlike rival services such as Spotify and We7, Deezer is purely a subscription model, with its free service version holding no ads. Foster told new media age how it plans to differentiate itself with an increasingly busy UK online music market.

What has the response from the labels been? Is it easier having been live in France for some time?

It has been positive and yes it is easier because it is a proven model and Deezer in France is generating a lot of revenue for music labels.

How do you differ from the other music services?

All UK music services offer a bit of an ideal solution: some are good at letting you create playlists but only if you already know what songs you want, some have editorial features but are not as ubiquitous on all devices such as PC, tablet, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. We also offer the ability to share playlists via the service or via Facebook and Twitter as well as having music fans give recommendations for each genre. We also have the ability to give you recommendations based on your tastes via a smart radio service.

How do you plan to take Deezer beyond early adopters to become a legal music service for the mainstream?

The idea for us is not to make Deezer ‘hypercredible’, we want to be credible but also appeal to a broad range of people. There is a perception by a lot of people that you need to be a techie to use music streaming services but we want to appeal to people who are just starting to look at music online, so it needs to be user friendly. We will use the editorial tone to try and make them feel comfortable.

You have a free version, but it doesn’t have ads. How does it work?

We do want to enable people to come in easily and try it out, so we have no ad-funded version. The free version lets people listen to 30 second tracks and use our radio and smart radio features for free. The on-demand service, with all the playlist, sharing and recommendation features, is £4.99 for desktop-online access, with full access across all devices costing £9.99.

Price-wise it is an established model and it is perceived as good value once people have subscribed. It is important that we get people to realise that music has a value and you can’t just get music for free.

Why not subsidise a free version with ads?

There has been a place for ad-funded music but now, if we want to grow the perception that there is a value to music, it is fair to push people towards a paid subscription. Artists deserve to be paid.

In France what has your experience been in convincing younger users to pay for the service?

It is a fair spread but it is hard because you do need a credit card to pay. The pay-as-you-go market is more heavily geared to a younger audience. There is still an education role for government and the industry about piracy and promoting legal, licensed music.

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Published 1 September, 2011 by NMA Staff

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