Deezer dismisses exclusive deals with musicians as ‘irritating’

Music-streaming deals with Barcelona FC and Manchester United are just the start in a ‘big shift’ in its marketing.


Deezer is shifting its marketing strategy to focus on tie-ups with big consumer brands as it looks to target the more than 7 billion people who don’t yet pay for a music streaming service.

Earlier this week it unveiled a partnership with Manchester United and it has announced a similar deal with Barcelona FC. The latter will give Deezer, which has 10 million monthly active users, more international exposure as its branding will appear prominently around Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium and on the club’s official website.

According to Deezer’s chief marketing officer Golan Shaked, the partnership is about projecting personality opposed to acting as a ‘generic’ tie-up.

He tells Marketing Week: “This isn’t a generic sponsorship where we appear on kits, this is about bringing fans closer to their clubs and favourite players. It will also give football player’s much more personality as you’ll be able to see what they are listening to before a game and in real-time.”

Shaked says the two deals represent a “big shift” in the French streaming brand’s marketing strategy, having previously spread brand awareness primarily through B2B partnerships with mobile operators. And he says Deezer, which is also looking to add more European and Latin America-based football clubs, will next launch partnerships with retail chains and consumer brands geared towards women.

Battling the big boys

Deezer is very aware of its “challenger” position in the market place and knows it will “probably never” catch up to Spotify’s 100 million plus active users. But Shaked is convinced it is tapping into a concept that will give it a point of difference.

“Deezer Flow is our USP and what we pride ourselves on as it is a personal soundtrack that uses algorithms and curated content to provide a continuous experience. There isn’t a specific playlist for cooking or breaking up and then making up, instead we predict what a consumer wants to hear and build it around their day,” he explains.

“We believe users are getting bored of streaming services that only focus on playlist curation. They want to lean back not lean forward.”


While Frank Ocean’s Blonde is topping most critics’ album of the year lists, unless you have Apple Music you’ll be unable to listen to the album due to the singer’s exclusive agreement with Apple. Users are tiring of of these ‘counter productive’ xclusive agreements, according to Shaked.

“One of the major things legitimate streaming has done is allow labels and artists to make more money. But by going exclusive and denying the customer it is counter productive, and forces users to go back to downloading illegally,” he says.

“Deezer will never enter exclusive agreements with artists as it only irritates people.”

Even if Deezer doesn’t have the major budgets of its bigger rivals, Shaked is more than confident in its future: “There are less than 200 million people globally paying for streaming so there’s a whole universe for us to target. We believe targeting a more mature audience will help us win.”

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