Analysis

Deezer Elite goes hi-def for US launch


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deezerIt has been rumoured for a long time, but Deezer has finally made it to the US and its “USP” is improved audio quality charged at a premium monthly price. Existing subscription services in the US have all settled around the $9.99 monthly price point but (new name alert) Deezer Elite is making its American debut on 15th September at $14.99 a month. The company has also said that Deezer Elite will be rolled out in its existing markets, but has not confirmed when that will be.

On a technical level, Deezer Elite will be offering streaming at 1,411kbps compared to Spotify’s 320kbps. There is, however, a discounted offer of $120 a year if consumers take out an annual subscription from the off. Otherwise it’s $14.99 a month. Oh, and you’ll only feel the sonic benefit if (for now) you are streaming Deezer through a Sonos system. And oh again, Deezer has also suggested that the subscription price could rise to $20 a month, but is not saying when.

The echoes what Norwegian company WiMP will be doing later in the year (precise date TBC) when it launches its high-quality audio service WiMP Hi-Fi in the US and the UK under the rebranded name of Tidal, charging $20 a month.

It is a bold play by both Deezer and WiMP/Tidal in a very busy market where Rhapsody, Rdio and Muve Music have been around for a long time. Plus Spotify arrived in 2011 while Beats Music launched at the start of the year and now has the very deep pockets of Apple to bankroll it. And YouTube’ subscription service is coming soon. Plus there is Sony Music Unlimited. And so on.

It is debatable if it is too early for the streaming sector to go all guns blazing in the Loudness Wars, especially considering that genuine audiophiles are a very small subset of total music consumers. Apply that to current streaming subscriber numbers and you are talking about a sliver of a niche within a niche.

Eamonn Forde

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