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"You can't just be a tool to provide music" – Deezer's French CEO on rival Spotify and today's expansion into 22 new territories Written by Nina Fowler on 28. January 2013

Axel Dauchez

Axel Dauchez

Music streaming service Deezer is opening up in 22 new territories this week – including in the Middle East and North Africa – and is in talks to speed up its launch in the US.

The French company, co-founded in 2007 by Daniel Marhely and Jonathan Benassaya, has accelerated its international expansion plans since Axel Dauchez – the former head of animation production company Moonscoop – came on as CEO in 2010.

“We’ve always been very focused on building a sustainable business,” Dauchez – a little sick but still game for interviews – told VentureVillage during music trade fair MIDEM on Saturday. “That doesn’t mean sometimes you don’t speed up…”

Deezer last year closed an enormous $130m deal with Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, which headlined as one of the largest investment rounds ever for a French internet startup.

In October last year, Deezer exploded out into 76 new countries. Brazil joined the list last week. Today, the company announced a fresh expansion into Asia (Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong), South Africa and the “very strategic” regions of the Middle East and North Africa (Egypt, Iraq, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, others). The service is now active in 182 countries total.


Deezer by the numbers

The glaring gap on that map is the US, which Dauchez has previously said still doesn’t have the market conditions to make sustainable business possible. “We are having some discussions for strategic partnerships to speed up our launch in the US but nothing will be said for the moment,” he said this week.

The US is home to about one-fifth of Spotify’s five million paying subscribers, from a total user base of 20 million. By comparison, Deezer now claims about three million paying subscribers from a total user base of 26 million.

Dauchez isn’t interested in playing up the rivalry. “To be frank, we both need to educate the market – we are stronger together,” he said.

How to stay ahead – “you can’t just be a tool to provide music”

New subscribers for Deezer, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and the rest may be coming from the crowd without an existing music subscription service right now – but eventually, since users are unlikely to sign up for more than one service, competition is inevitable.

There are also regional players to think about such as Anghami, a new mobile music service in the MENA region already claiming over 500,000 downloads since its beta launch last November.

For now, Deezer is focused on becoming truly global and – equally important – figuring out how to add more value to listeners, including through editorial recommendations and artist partnerships. As Dauchez put it, if you’re asking people to subscribe for €10 per month, “you can’t just be a tool to provide music”.

Image credit: Axel Dauchez via Flickr user LeWeb12


Deezer goes global, releases free service to rival Spotify