Music streaming startup Deezer just revamped its free offering across the board in order to become more competitive with Spotify, Rdio and others. Mobile users will now be able to listen to smart radios for free. Like on the web, your music will be interrupted by audio ads every now and then. The company also dropped its listening cap of 10 hours per month on all platforms.
Deezer presented a beta version for Mac as well. This new app will sit in your menubar. It looks more like a mini player to control your music and change your playlist than a full-fledged player. But the key feature is that you will be able to drag and drop MP3 files from your local hard drives to the new desktop app so that you can listen to your local files through Deezer.
Finally, the company also announced a new partnership with Samsung in Europe. New Samsung Galaxy S5 owners will get 6 months of Premium+. The Premium+ plan usually costs €9.99 per month to get unlimited mobile access, no ads and other features.
The new free offering on mobile is a bit different from Spotify’s shuffle features — it’s more like a smart radio feature on steroids. You can search from an artist and launch a smart radio based on this artist. It means that you will get songs from this artist as well as songs from related artists.
Similarly, you can select one of your playlists and start a radio based on the songs in this playlist. But you will get songs that are not in your playlist. New genre-based radios are also available. Finally, there is a new “Flow” feature that lets you launch the app and press a single button to start a smart radio. Music selection will be based on your listening habits, music collection and related music.
When you listen to a smart radio, you won’t be able to skip as many times as you want. And of course, you can’t search for a particular song to play it. These restrictions probably let Deezer pay lower music fees. Internet radios (like Pandora and iTunes Radio) and unlimited streaming services don’t have the same licensing deals, and that’s why there are more restrictions on smart radio services.
Deezer gets its music recommendations from its own in-house solution. It doesn’t rely on The Echo Nest, which was recently acquired by Spotify.
All of these announcements don’t come as a surprise. The company has been ramping up its offering before launching in the U.S. to compete head-to-head with music streaming giants. The only remaining question is when Deezer will actually launch its service in the U.S.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Deezer relies on The Echo Nest. Deezer has developed its own recommendation engine.