Deezer, a French subscription music service, is making its US entrance not with a bang but a whisper, through a partnership with speaker maker Sonos and at a higher price than rivals.
The service, Deezer Elite on Sonos, is available to Sonos customers for promotional $9.99-a-month price for those who sign up for a full year, starting September 15 with a one-month free trial. That represents a half-off cut of Deezer's standard rate of $19.99 for the new service in the US, which is touting itself as "high definition" -- though it's actually CD quality with streams set at 16-bit/44.1kHz. Deezer customers who opt to pay month-to-month will still pay a $5 premium at $14.
The US entrance through Sonos, and at a higher monthly price than rivals, signals Deezer's angle for a foothold in the world's biggest music market is meant to target high-end audiophiles rather than the masses. Subscription streaming music is growing rapidly, with giants like Google, Amazon and Apple jumping into the fray alongside hot startups like Spotify. Amid the jostling, no service has yet to take hold of the market, with Spotify coming closest with its 10 million paying subscribers.
But Deezer is entering the US only for customers of Sonos and its standard rate for Elite doubles the typical pricing of rivals like Spotify and Apple's Beats Music. The tack raises the question of whether Deezer, which has grown to 5 million paid members predominantly in its homeland France, is risking mass appeal in its biggest market by targeting the high end, at a time when the US streaming landscape is still largely up for grabs.
The $19.99 price is what Deezer says Elite on Sonos would cost with no promotions, but currently anybody who subscribes to Deezer Elite on Sonos would get a discounted rate. The company wouldn't indicate when or if the promotional prices would end.
Deezer joins Tidal in offering lossless streaming music for the US and UK markets, but for now Deezer Elite will only be available to current Sonos owners or anyone who purchases or installs a new Sonos speaker. The service isn't available yet for those who want to try Deezer without going through Sonos, according to representative. The company is focused on launching in targeted segments in the US, prior to a general market launch, the representative said. He added that Deezer has all the necessary rights licensed to launch fully in the US, and its entire catalog of 35 million songs will be available to US listeners.