Orange Duets With Spotify Competitor Deezer On New UK Mobile Music Service

Another mobile operator is taking a crack at the streaming music market: France Telecom’s Orange is partnering with Deezer — France’s answer to Spotify — to launch an exclusive mobile music service that will effectively be offered “free” to those who sign up for Orange’s premium, two-year service plans.

The announcement follows on from last week’s news that Deezer would be extending its service to the UK, headed up by new MD Mark Foster, who has had a long career in the music industry, with executive positions at Warner Music and other labels.

According to the release from Orange, Orange will be the exclusive partner for Deezer Mobile, a service that gives users unlimited access to the whole of the Deezer catalog of 13 million tracks on their phones.

Orange will be using the service as an incentive to would-be customers: those who sign up for Deezer independently will need to pay $9.99 per month to access music tracks, albums, radio channels, recommendations and supplementary content. But those who sign up for Orange’s Pay Monthly “Panther” tariffs — price: between £25 and £80 per month on a 24-month contract — will get a mobile-only version of the service bundled into those phone deals. It’s not clear whether T-Mobile, as Orange’s partner in Everything Everywhere, will have access to offering the service as well.

As it does in France, Deezer will also offer its radio station service — where a user cannot choose which specific tracks are included — free of charge.

Will this deal bring in the masses? We have seen a number of partnerships between mobile operators and streaming music companies — Music Station was an early mover with deals with Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) and others (and has more recently moved into a music streaming service with RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) on the BBM social network); and Spotify works with 3UK, Telia and Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) — but it’s unclear whether any of these have hit the high notes everyone was expecting.

But given the current buzz around cloud-based media services and the growing ubiquity of smartphones, we are likely to see more partnerships anyway.

This is not the first time that Orange and Deezer have worked together. In 2010, Orange took a minority stake in the company and the two have been offering a music service since August 2010 in France. While the two have not revealed how many subscribers they have today, the partnership picked up 500,000 in the first six months of operation — a number that is likely to have grown, as the service is bundled into Orange’s broadband and mobile content offerings in France, where it is the most dominant player on both platforms.

Deezer says that overall it has a total of 20 million subscribers worldwide, with services not only across France, but also Germany, Italy and Spain. Of that 20 million, there are 1.2 million taking premium packages. The rest listen using the Deezer’s free radio stations.