Deezer appointed Jeronimo Folgueira as CEO in May 2021, hoping that his background in the e-commerce world would help the streaming service compete against its bigger rivals. Nine months later, Folgueira has been talking to Music Ally about his plans for the company, and his first impressions of the music industry.
“When I look at Deezer, it’s a fantastic company with a great product. You can see that because we’re really strong in France where we have about a third of the market. We’re really big in Brazil, where we have almost 20% share of subscribers,” said Folgueira in our latest Music Ally Focus podcast.
“We have a product that works really well. However, we haven’t managed to get big enough in some of the other large markets, and that’s why I’m trying to figure out what is the most efficient way for us to expand beyond the current footprint.”
Folgueira said that Deezer’s strategy will involve exploring more ways to make money – and to help artists make money – beyond traditional subscriptions. “There is a lot of fear rather than thinking more about embracing the future,” he said. “I think we need to start thinking about more ways of improving monetisation of music… We have never consumed as much music as we do today, in quantities and quality. And we never paid as little as we actually pay today.”
Folgueira added that he was “shocked” that 9.99-a-month subscriptions remain the core of the streaming market, and said that he wants to work more closely with rightsholders to explore new models around that.
“There is a bit of a tension between labels and DSPs. It’s kind of we’re all enemies in a way. And at the end of the day I think we have to work together,” he said.
“If we work together on finding ways of innovating and creating more value, we all win. So instead of fighting on the royalties percentage and this and that, and having an army of lawyers on each side trying to control everything through contracts, I think it would be more healthy to sit together and say ‘well, how can we actually create more value for everybody?’ And then we can fight to see who shares what!”
Folgueira’s impressions of the industry may raise a few eyebrows within those labels, mind.
“It’s an industry based on fear and a lack of trust. Like, no one seems to trust anybody here! And everyone is afraid, everyone is in fear. And when you are in fear, you make wrong decisions, and you cannot innovate, you cannot think outside of the box,” he said.
“Music by definition is creative, it’s innovating, it’s finding new stuff. And then the whole industry behaves in a very conservative different way. A lot of the people in the industry, it feels like people should be in oil and gas!”
Folgueira also reiterated Deezer’s desire to move towards a user-centric payouts system. “The system, it’s structurally broken,” he said, pointing to streaming’s double-edged impact on the music industry since the heyday of online piracy.
“Music streaming saved the industry. And that is true, we found ways of monetising and bringing money back to the industry. On the other hand, because of the way the [royalty] pools work, we kind of helped the large artists and the people that get massive streams, but in a way we made the income of the mid-tier artists a lot worse,” he said. Listen to the full podcast here.