Hi-Res Streaming Service Qobuz Says Its Has 200,000 Paying Customers — 25,000 In the U.S.

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Photo Credit: Qobuz

Qobuz, the French music streaming service, launched in the United States on Valentine’s Day. Despite its rocky rollout, the company claims to have gained at least 25,000 subscribers in the country, which is just a fraction of its worldwide customer tally. Nevertheless, Qobuz recently released some financial details about the company, stating that it has at least 200,000 subscribers across 12 global territories and continues to grow.

However, the song catalog on Qobuz is not as deep as other streaming services. Instead, the service was built with audiophiles in mind. Dan Mackta, the U.S. managing director, recently stated that “We’re not competing with the big guys. Our aspiration is to reach 1% of the market.” Qobuz launched in 2009 as a hi-res download service and only in 2014 did the company roll out a complementary streaming service. All audio tracks on the service are CD-quality audio as a baseline. The service also offers millions of Hi-Res tracks, up to 24-bit/192kHz across many genres.

Despite the potential market for hi-fidelity music streaming, Qobuz’s U.S. rollout was not smooth. For several weeks, Android users were left needing a desktop computer to sign up for an account, and the app simply didn’t work on Android devices. The issue has now been fixed, but it’s unclear how many subscribers Qobuz lost during that window.

However, even beyond these launch snags, there’s a bigger question: how willing are people to fork over extra money for high fidelity audio? Tidal has claimed that 45% of its three million subscribers were from its HiFi tier, but the company’s claims are difficult to verify, and it has been routinely accused of cooking its books. Additionally, Tidal has announced that it will support the MQA codec for its hi-res audio tier on iOS and Android earlier this year.

Qobuz’s launch in the United States has inevitably drawn comparisons to Tidal and other high-fidelity music streaming services. Tidal Masters has a lower introductory price than Qobuz, and Deezer’s recently announced hi-fidelity streaming service starts at a less expensive price point than both. Even Apple has worked to revamp its iTunes Masters for Apple Music. Therefore, the question arises: is there even 1% of a market for Qobuz to exploit at this point?

Nevertheless, Qobuz remains optimistic. The company’s CEO, Denis Thébaud, has stated that he believes the U.S. market has the potential to become its largest market. “We are in a market that is developing, and there is a real need for differentiation,” he said. “We have to be a little cautious, but we see that there is a real opportunity to develop this market.”

In conclusion, despite the rocky start, Qobuz remains confident in its ability to grow in the United States and beyond. Only time will tell if the market for high-fidelity music streaming will continue to grow, but for now, Qobuz is betting on it. With its focus on audiophiles and high-quality audio, Qobuz is certainly differentiating itself from other streaming services. Whether or not it can gain a significant market share remains to be seen, but Qobuz is definitely a player to watch in the music streaming industry.