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Deezer unveils tarted-up music-streaming service after $130m injection

Just don't ask them about lossless downloads

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Music streamer Deezer sexed up its wares yesterday, the new features the result of a gigantic recent $130m investment.

Streaming services notoriously have all the sex appeal of a spreadsheet, and Deezer wants to improve music discovery as well as appeal to music grown ups who have invested a lot of time in managing their own collection.

The new discovery aspect includes human recommendations, algorithm tweaks, and a combination of the two. Fifty Deezer staffers curate playlists and make recommendations, around 20 per cent of the workforce. The new-look Deezer El Reg saw yesterday, currently in beta, will add context information (such as location and listening history) to provide more personalised recommendations.

It’s better than before, but a music fan really gets recommendations from a news stream encompassing music sites, music blogs, artist pages, venue pages and social media pals – and no streaming site offers such a comprehensive feed. Or anything like it.

More optimistic is an attempt, still in its infancy, to snare in a category of user “who has invested much time, maybe much money and certainly a lot of love” in their digital collection, according to Deezer CEO Axel Dauchez. That’s a category which includes, er … your reporter, who cancelled all his streaming services a couple of years ago – reckoning the "convenience" of instant access was far outweighed by the "inconvenience" of trying to remember where the damn music is, or why it won’t play.

This entails building a virtual file system on the PC or Mac along with a mini-player. In essence it apes DropBox. Dauchez says material that isn’t in Deezer’s 30 million-strong catalogue – such as live recordings and remixes – will now be uploaded to the cloud and made instantly accessible. We presume, like Apple, it now has a license to do so. Seeing gaps appear in what is supposed to be a cloud ‘mirror’ of your music collection rather defeated the object of "seamless access".

Deezer claims to have 30 million users in 180 countries, of whom five million are paying punters. Spotify claims 24 million users of whom "20 per cent" are paying, ie, six million. It’s currently open to UK punters for £4.99, half price, and doesn’t require a Facebook account.

The history of music retail shows you can upsell punters if you keep offering us goodies and good value extras, like exclusives or a bundle of lossless downloads, for example. Yet all the music streamers are stuck on the same £9.99 price tier, while artists (correctly) point out this yields them a pittance. Breaking out of this suicide pact by offering tiered services would appear to be the way forward - or at least, worth a few experiments. Thrill and amaze us, shopkeepers!

Yet when I told Deezer’s CEO that I’d cheerfully give him more money if he could offer a premium tier that included goodies such like lossless downloads – Mr Dauchez looked at me like I was asking for the moon on a stick. ®

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