The reason we don’t see the equivalent of “HD” offered on streaming music services is because most people don’t have speakers good enough to take advantage of it.
International streaming music startup Deezer hopes to change that as it enters the crowded U.S. market of music services. Today it’s launching a new “Deezer Elite” service that offers high-resolution audio (HRA) streaming quality at 5x the bit rate offered by Apple’s iTunes Music, among others. (That means it sounds way better than regular streaming audio.) The service offers an on-demand music library of over 35 million songs, the ability to upload listening history, and a digital radio experience. Users can access the service from desktops and mobile devices.
“There is a section of music fans that defines themselves with a commitment to hardware and listening to only high-resolution sound quality,” Deezer North America CEO Tyler Goldman told VentureBeat. “Those fans spend the most money on music and are also the most underserved when it comes to streaming.”
The Elite service will cost U.S. customers $20 per month, which is about double the price of other premium on-demand music services like Spotify, Rdio, and Beats Music. However, none of those other services can offer the same quality sound. For people who prefer vinyl records and CDs over MP3s and streaming services, Deezer Elite should be very appealing, Goldman explained.
But higher quality music streaming means a lot more data getting used, so mobile users with a data cap or metered pricing are unlikely to opt for the service. Instead it targets people who prefer to listen to their music at home, using top-of-the-line home audio systems or high quality speakers.
Deezer’s plan for getting the word out about its Elite service is pretty good. The company is teaming up with Sonos for its launch as well as companies trained to install home theater equipment. (Sonos customers also get a promotional price of $10 per month for Elite.)
Goldman told me Deezer doesn’t expect to pull away many paying subscribers from the top U.S. streaming music services because its target audience for Elite is one that’s avoided streaming music to begin with.
As someone who attended a college known for its music program, I can attest to a ton of former classmates refusing to listen to digital music because of the quality. (Those were the same folks who didn’t flinch when dropping hundreds of dollars on premium headphones.)
The company expects to target other niches going forward.
“We’re launching Elite now, but Deezer is also looking at other [sub-sections] of music fans that are underserved,” Goldman said.
One example he gave was the potential for an in-car only streaming music service for people who just care about listening in their vehicle. This seems like the best approach for Deezer given how many other streaming services are already available in the U.S., with Spotify and Pandora taking a clear lead with the general consumer population.
Deezer Elite will officially roll out to U.S. consumers Sept. 15.