Deezer Pulls Back Curtain On Growth Strategy: Adds 76 More Countries, Free Version, Social Features

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Armed with a fresh $130 million in funding from Warner Music owner Access Industries and Idinvest, music streaming company Deezer has this morning revealed more details on what it plans to do with that cash. The short version is as follows: Push on with Rest Of The World (ROW) domination — launching in 76 additional countries throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia — as the company continues scaling up its strategy of everywhere but the U.S., along with adding a marketing-driven free version of the service and ramping up its social features significantly.

The details were outlined by Deezer CEO, Axel Dauchez, at a press conference held, appropriately, at Abbey Road Studios (made famous by the Beatles) and builds on much of what he told TechCrunch in an interview he gave yesterday.

It plans to “speed up growth” by opening offices in both new and existing markets around the world, in order to strike deals with the local rights holders. The big bet here is that the switch from “music ownership to usage” (downloads to cloud-based consumption i.e. subscription streaming) will increase the importance of “new” music markets — those exact same markets that Deezer is set to have first-mover advantage in.

Deezer also plans to grow its editorial team by 50% (specific head count wasn’t given) to further improve the localisation of its service and to provide more locally relevant content and features — this is an area the company thinks it competes on really well and will be instrumental in creating a market for the service on the ground in each new country it launches in.

But, perhaps headline grabbing of them all, is the planned launch of an international free service, something that has been missing until now (free users were limited to 30 second previews of tracks). Similar to Spotify, the idea here is that the free service will be a recruitment channel to encourage users to convert to a paid subscription (“rather than a model in of itself”, says the company). Furthermore, it will be tailored for each individual country “according to the competition”, presumably in terms of number of listening hours permitted and that type of thing.

A strategy is one thing — words in a business plan always sound great — but Deezer has been busy putting some serious meat on the bone. Tangible evidence of this lies in today’s announcement that the service has launched in 76 additional countries throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia — this brings Deezer’s reach to a total of 160 countries worldwide (see list), more than any of its competitors, notes the company. But this really is a Rest Of The World play — the U.S. is still missing in action, and Deezer says it will continue to focus first on growing music markets, rather than the U.S., “where customer acquisition costs are high and market conditions do not currently allow for sustainable expansion”. Music streaming has never been cheap.

The service has some neat feature updates coming too, including a renewed focus on social, an area where Spotify is still kind of lame.

According to the press release, new features include:

Social mobile communities: Deezer’s mobile application will allow music fans to find and connect with their friends, gaining seamless access to their music libraries, playlists and charts to discover their favourite tracks and recommendations.

Top user recommendations: music fans can submit their playlists to the editorial team once a month, with the best ones rewarded by being featured on Deezer’s local homepages for millions of other fans to see.

Targeted concert listings: personalised music libraries now include relevant local concert listings along with playlist recommendations, based on location and an individual’s favourite artists on Deezer.

Extended Facebook integration which will bring Deezer into Facebook’s Notification Centre, making it easier than ever for friends to recommend their favourite track.