Deezer’s high-def audio service comes to Sonos speakers worldwide

Deezer’s high-definition music streaming tier is expanding beyond the U.S.: Sonos owners around the world can soon stream their music as high-definition FLAC files with bit rates of 1,411 kbps or higher by subscribing to Deezer Elite, as the new tier is being called. This comes after Deezer launched Deezer Elite to U.S.-based Sonos owners last September.

Deezer is rolling out the new tier in two phases: Existing Deezer subscribers can upgrade to Deezer Elite right away for no additional cost. New users that already have a Sonos device will be able to sign up by March 19th, but the company hasn’t announced yet how much it will charge customers at that point. Deezer is charging users in the U.S. $14.99 for high-definition streaming with month-to-month billing.

Deezer USA CEO Tyler Goldman told me during an interview last week that Deezer Elite is part of the company’s mission to build specialized tiers that cater to certain audiences, rather than offering everyone the same music service. “We are going to super-serve the needs of audiophiles” with Deezer Elite, he said, adding that the company has gotten a lot of positive feedback from U.S.-based Elite subscribers.

The most striking data point may be the engagement that Deezer is seeing with Elite: Goldman told me that the typical Deezer subscriber streams for close to two hours per day. With Deezer Elite, the amount of listening almost doubles, he said.

Deezer is just one of a number of companies trying to cash in on high-definition audio. In December, HD music streaming service Tidal launched on Sonos as well, and Neil Young’s Pono recently started to sell its HD music player on the web and in select stores. Pono’s model is a bit different in that it is based on digital album sales as opposed to a all-you-can-eat streaming service like Deezer, but Young told me during an interview at CES that it would be possible for Pono to team up with a streaming service down the road as well.

Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T

Paris-based music streaming service Deezer has acquired Muve Music, the mobile-focused music service from Leap Wireless. Leap is a virtual mobile operator better known for its Cricket service, which was itself acquired by AT&T early last year. Details of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but Deezer North America CEO Tyler Goldman told me during an interview at CES in Las Vegas this week that the acquisition was “material” for his company.

Muve Music has been a bit of an enigma for the industry; the music service was a huge success amongst Cricket users, and reached more than two million paying subscribers by the end of 2013. This made Muve one of the most popular subscription music services in the U.S., second only to Spotify. But part of Muve’s success was due to its close tie-in with Cricket, which at one point bundled the music service with all of its Android data plans.

Muve was also very much unlike Spotify and any of its better-known competitors in that it focused solely on music downloads as opposed to streaming, in part due to the lower data speeds for its customers. And Cricket operates as a prepaid business, which led some in the industry to wonder how much those Muve subscribers were really worth. I’ve talked to some industry insiders over the past few months who told me that AT&T asked for too much per subscriber, which may be one of the reason why the sale took so long: The operator had reportedly been looking for a buyer for Muve since at least May of last year.

However, Goldman argued during our conversation that the industry has been ignoring the typical Cricket customer, who tends to be lower-income and is more likely to be hispanic. He argued that catering to this audience is consistent with Deezer’s approach to online music, which is about segmenting the market. The company launched a subscription tier for HD audio aficionados last year, and has been looking to target other audiences with more fine-tuned tiers as well. “Almost every segment is underserved today,” he told me, adding that other services have been trying to sell the same product to very different groups of consumers. “That silver bullet strategy doesn’t work,” he said.

Deezer will offer Muve users a free trial, and afterwards only charge $6 per month, which is significantly cheaper than the typical $10 fee that competing music services are charging. It’s also a lot cheaper than Deezer’s high-definition audio service, which charges consumers up to $20 per month. Goldman said that the company plans to add tiers for additional segments over time, but also launch a bundle of multiple service components later this year.

Deezer, Dailyburn and PBS Kids are coming to Chromecast

Google’s (S GOOG) Chromecast streaming stick just got a bunch of new apps: Digital music service Deezer gave its paying subscribers access to casting through its mobile apps. Video workout service Dailyburn added Chromecast support to its website, iOS and Android apps, and PBS Kids added Chromecast support to its mobile apps as well. Earlier on Tuesday, video discovery app Stevie announced its own Chromecast integration.

German TV giant buys major stake in Deezer

German TV conglomerate ProSiebenSat.1 has acquired a significant stake of the European music streaming service Deezer, according to a report by local newspaper Die Welt. The companies didn’t release any details about the transaction, but ProSiebenSat.1 is said to hold less that 50 percent of Deezer now, and plans to roll up its own music venture Ampya into the service. Deezer is said to have 16 million active users per month, and there have been rumors that the company may launch in the U.S. this year.

Samsung may buy stake in Deezer

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/12/uk-deezer-dailymotion-france-idUKBREA0B09420140112

Samsung is in negotiations to strike a commercial agreement with and possibly acquire  a stake in the Paris-based music subscription service Deezer, according to French media reports relayed by Reuters. Deezer seems like an interesting target for Samsung: The service is already available in a long list of countries, and is targeting the U.S. market in 2014.

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