Deezer Is Launching the Strangest Free Access Tier In the World

Deezer will let you listen for free.  But you might have to pay.

Earlier this week, French streaming service Deezer entered treacherous American waters with a paid-only streaming music service.  That sounded like a strategy that would save costs, especially since free-access users can quickly burn capital (just ask Spotify).

Additionally, a paid-only approach is also a great way to win the approval of rights owners and artists, simply because it keeps streaming royalties high while insisting on making fans pay.  That has worked for Apple Music, Tidal, and Napster, all of whom refuse to offer a free tier.

The only thing is, Deezer isn’t actually launching a paid-only platform.  According to a clarification from Deezer’s PR firm, the application will actually have a free access, ad-supported tier.  That changes everything, except that the free access tier won’t be like Spotify or YouTube, available immediately.

Instead, Deezer is applying a far more complicated approach.  According to Deezer’s rep at M&C Saatchi Worldwide, users will first have to try a 30 premium trial on Deezer, for free.  That step requires a credit card, which rolls into a paid account if the user opts to continue (or, forgets to cancel).  Only at that point can the user elect to continue with a free, ad-supported tier, though a credit card must remain on file according to the firm.

Welcome to America, Deezer. You’re Dead.

Strangely, none of that is advertised on Deezer’s site.  In fact, the terms seem to indicate that after 30 days of a trial premium account, everything automatically rolls into a paid relationship.  Here’s one pertinent part of the TOC.

“Unless otherwise indicated on the Site or Application, following the Trial Period, we automatically will convert your Trial Period subscription into a paid subscription for the Premium + Service unless you cancel your subscription prior to the expiration of the Trial Period. You hereby authorize DEEZER to charge you for the then-current subscription fees for the Premium + Service for each month following the expiration of your Trial Period and continuing through the month in which you cancel your subscription term as described in Article 6.3.”

Perhaps Deezer is yet to announce the free access tier, or, their PR firm is confused.  Another possibility is that users are only presented with the free option after they try to cancel premium, a mechanism that would at least keep people using the service.  Either way, the approach obviously curtails the volume of free users, and the capital required to support them.

But will users decide to use Deezer’s ad-supported platform over, let’s say, Spotify’s given that a valid credit card needs to be on file?  That’s a tough question, especially given that the presence of a credit card opens the possibility of an accidental charge or annoying billing issue.  We’re not sure if other strings are attached, or the fine print contains something devious, though most consumers are wary of this sort of thing.


Confused guy image by Maarten van Maanen, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Is it strange? Or do you just not understand how streaming subscriptions work? They’ve already been testing the US market on a small scale, I’m sure they know what demographic they’re after. Companies roll out prices and packages that make them the most amount of money possible…and this strategy seems to be aiming for that end. May be slightly more complex, but looks better than where Spotify is at right now.
    And the user interface is decent, so who knows if they won’t do well?

  2. rikki

    will someone explain what is all the fuss about streaming? why do you do it?

    is this the “we rent” generation and you own nothing?

    • Anonymous

      Because it’s free (or very cheap), has most everything, doesn’t break or take up space, and is available 24-7 anywhere you have signal.

    • Anonymous

      It’s addicting. It ropes you in. All the music you could want for only $10 per month. You convince yourself you are saving money as you start making a music library of several thousand songs. You feel in control.

      But after the years start to roll by you realize you are not actually saving money. Or at least I did. I realized 90% of what I listen to is the same music I did 5 years ago. I also realized what the real cost was when I started working for a company that allows music while you work but doesn’t allow any internet capable devices whatsoever (so no phones) due to security reasons. Therefore I couldn’t use an app and basically no services support using Playforsure media players anymore since no one makes the players anymore. After subscribing for nearly 10 years I had spent over $1,000 dollars and had literally nothing to show for it. So this will be my last year of spending money on music subscriptions. I am purchasing my entire music library that I made on streaming services primarily using physical media since it is surprisingly cheaper than digital download despite including a shipping cost. Not to mention being in better quality and whatever format I choose.

  3. Mememe

    Pay for streaming? 10 dollars? LOL. There are enough music services which I can use for free, mostly for discovery, not for listening, of course.

  4. Sakis Gouzonis

    When will they all realize that music is free? People want free music. If you don’t give it to them, people will find it somewhere else. Music is no longer a business. Wake up!

  5. Nicky Knight

    See the trouble with music streaming services is that unless you have exclusives then you’re just another also ran..

    Of course it will bomb.. it’s a case of who’s first in with market share and right now it’s YouTube, Spotify, Apple.

    Tidal is too niche to count (in my books..)

    Why give your money to this lot when there’s no doubt less choices than Apple music, Apple Music has the iTunes content which includes artists and songs that aren’t available elsewhere…

    They’ll burn through other peoples money and the exec’s will command nice fat salaries and five star lifestyles … Hell, there might even be an IPO at the end of the day..

  6. James

    A ridiculous and sneaky “free” version. Shady business alert here, and shades of the old AOL mantra from a bygone era. Once you sign up, it is exceedingly difficult to cancel, which of course is part of the business model to calculate the fail rate of cancellation within 30 days into their revenue stream at the end user’s expen$e.
    Been there, done that. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  7. ravi

    Why just Deezer?
    AT&T does the same in US.
    one, they misspelt my name when I booked a 30 day prepaid card. two, they said amazon prime is free if I pay only $10 for use in US. I thought cool. now, I don’t know how to cancel this, as every month $60 is being deducted from my card. I could do nothing to remove auto-pay as I don’t know what name she used for me. now, I simply cancelled my credit card!!
    watch out for opt-ins that looks free and then you have no idea how to opt-out.

  8. Kyle

    You can thank the rise of smartphones. The top globalists have gotten paranoid and decided that home computers are a big NO NO and clamped down.

    A home computer in 2004 had a lot more freedom then today’s home PC despite not having as many cores or fast clock. Honestly a computer in 2010 could do a lot all you really needed was to add a 1TB drive. The companies want to do this pay to rent business because phone users don’t know any better.

    They went from telephones in your home straight to smartphones skipping over the computer era and the majority use their smartphone as a (Gasp) PHONE! They don’t use it as as “PC in your pocket” or whatever bull cock that is.

    The fundementals of phones are totally different and the demographics of phones are different as well. In the beginning it was believed there will be both but later they decided “Naaaaaaaaaah” to home PC’s.

    Intel and AMD have stoped really investing in motherboards or graphic chips so progress has really stagnated in the last 10 years. Other then heating efficiency there isn’t much differences between a GTX 980 and a 1050 other then the huge price tag suckering in teen age gamers who use their Daddy’s credit card and both parents work so Daddy think’s he is giving the kids a suped up rig.

    I have a Dell Inspiration computer for 800$ that is as powerful as a Alienware just no fancy case that lights up but the case is nowhere near as heavy. It’s even a higher end I7 which the next step up is an I9 chips that are not well known. They are working on I10 chips now.

    Most games don’t utilitize these things though as most games are console ports or mobile phone ports with the awful skinny figure and fat head look.