One size fits all, or does it?

Christian Harris, Head of UK & IE for Deezer

“Our mission goes beyond commerce, it goes beyond technology. Our intent is to preserve music’s importance in our lives.” Said one.

“Ours is a revolutionary streaming music service, a pioneering worldwide live radio station…broadcasting 24 hours a day and a great new way for music fans to connect with their favorite artists” Said another.

“We’re bringing you a deeper, richer, more immersive experience, We want to be the soundtrack your life by offering an even wider world of entertainment with an awesome mix of the best music, podcasts and video delivered to you throughout your day. And we’re just getting started.” Said a third.

Sounds familiar? These are all statements from recent music streaming product launches over the past 3 months. But are they all really that revolutionary? Using terms such as this, suggests that music streaming is either something completely new or then the combination of services is being presented in a new way. But neither is the case. So what is the claim really being made and why?

The answer is simple: differentiation. All companies in all markets want to present themselves as unique and music streaming is no different in this respect. What form this takes varies from service to service. But in an early-stage market, everyone at least accepts the principle, that if your offering is largely the same as the competition, then there are far fewer claims you can reasonably make about why a customer should choose your service over another.

Here at Deezer, our approach has historically been about choice, ease of use and human curation of music to help you find the music you love as quickly and easily as possible. But as a global business with customers in over 180 countries, relying on one offering for the whole world might not cut it. That’s why we have taken the approach of trying to localise our service around the content which will work best in each of our key markets.

When you think about the differences between, for example, Germany and the UK the issue becomes obvious. Although the average retail value of music on a per capita basis is roughly the same for each market, over 80% of all music consumption in Germany is done via physical formats; primarily CD. In the UK the ratio between physical and digital is roughly the same with the trend strongly favouring digital consumption. Throwing the net slightly wider we could compare Holland with Italy. Holland has one of the highest rates of digital music consumption in the world and whilst Italy isn’t too far behind with about a third of consumers using digital they invest very little. An Italian consumer being worth less than €4 per year.

With this level of market-by-market variation, any service which wants to be taken seriously needs to tailor the offering to meet the needs of the local customer. You also need to tailor the message to explain it. There’s no point banging on about complex features like playlisting, favouriting and algorithmic recommendation in Japan where virtually everyone is still buying CDs (weird I know). Equally, there’s every reason to emphasise the newness of great features like off-line mode or artists takeovers in Sweden where almost everyone streams music every day of the week.

That’s why Deezer doesn’t talk about revolution, but instead concentrates on evolution. Our aim has not been to re-invent the wheel, but to shape it for the markets where we see potential. We believe in the power of audio and the growth of the audio economy and intend to make a service, which is entertaining, practical and delightful. There’s a way to run in the race, which has only just got started. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Claims made today need to be backed up every day of every week of every year. For those who don’t follow this mantra, there will always be another service to try. Consumers are not fools. They know what they want and expect it to be explained in a clear and simple way. They also expect something relevant to them. Localising the offering will be just as important as making sure everyone understands it.

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