Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira to Step Down in March As Direct Subscribers Remain Flat in 2023

deezer artist centric model
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deezer artist centric model
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An interior shot of Deezer’s Paris headquarters. Photo Credit: Deezer

Less than three years after signing on as Deezer’s CEO – and amid the platform’s report of a flat direct-subscriber total between 2022 and 2023 – Jeronimo Folgueira is stepping down at March’s end.

Deezer (Euronext: DEEZR) formally announced Folgueira’s quick-approaching exit today, which also delivered the company’s Q4 and full-year 2023 financials. According to the Access Industries subsidiary, which has for some time been working to achieve profitability, the former Spark Networks head Folgueira “decided to resign to pursue personal projects.”

Addressing his departure in a statement, Jeronimo Folgueira didn’t provide an abundance of additional information, instead highlighting several of the business’s major operational milestones during his tenure.

“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last three years,” he said in part, “not only the strong 2023 financial results announced today and our listing on Euronext Paris, but also the adoption of our new brand identity, our evolution to an experience service platform, and the introduction of the new Artist Centric Payment System.”

The search for a replacement is already underway, the board signaled, also taking the opportunity to reiterate two goals made when the company listed on the Euronext: becoming “free cash flow positive in 2024” and achieving “operational profitability in 2025.”

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Deezer, which stands out for its particular embrace of price increases, will in fact realize the objectives. (Deezer currently charges stateside fans $11.99 per month for its individual plan, compared to the $10.99 monthly cost in place at most competing services.)

But the entity, which in January tapped Meta product-marketing director Ivana Kirkbride to serve as chief commercial officer, has had a generally difficult time achieving largescale growth following its 2022 arrival on the public market.

After rolling out the aforesaid (controversial) artist-centric streaming model and leaning into a related Universal Music tie-up, among other things, the company generated $525.4 million (€484.7 million) during 2023, according to today’s earnings report.

That’s up modestly from 2022’s $489.1 million (€451.2 million), though 2023 also delivered an improved net loss of $64.6 million/€59.6 million (against $182.7 million/€168.5 million in 2022).

Direct subscribers remained flat overall, referring to an increase of 200,000 in France on the year (at 3.7 million) as well as a similarly sized loss in all other nations (to two million or so as of December 31st), the breakdown shows. Total subscribers, including those attributable to partnerships, grew 1.1 million to 10.5 million.

Furthermore, while Deezer reiterated its profitability ambitions today, as mentioned, it opted against acknowledging the highly optimistic 2025 revenue goal of $1.08 billion (€1 billion) disclosed before its SPAC merger, besides a 2023 goal of $607.01 million/€560 million.

The point appears indicative of the inherent difficulties associated with taking on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music – especially given the largely overlapping song libraries of music services and the potentially appealing supplemental features of leading players. Spotify reported having more than 600 million total users as of 2023’s end, including 236 million paid subscribers.