South Africa’s online streaming music market has gone from nowhere to crowded in a matter of months. This week, another online music service, France’s Deezer, has been launched — or “soft-launched”, according to a company source.
France’s Deezer, which enjoys a close business relationship with France Telecom/Orange in Europe, is the third music streaming service to arrive on South African shores, following the entrance in 2012 of Germany’s Simfy — launched with Primedia’s eXactmobile and the UK’s rara.com.
In France, Orange reached an agreement with Deezer in 2010 to package its top streaming product with some of its consumer telecommunications packages. The deal proved a huge success and was expanded a year later to the UK.
Orange international business development deployment and coordination director Laura Bokobza says she is unable to say yet whether her company will work with Deezer in supporting and marketing a full commercial service in South Africa.
Orange has said it plans to launch a full-service mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the country, piggybacking off the infrastructure of one of the network providers. However, it’s not known when it will launch the MVNO and it hasn’t signed any agreements yet.
Deezer offers South African music lovers 20m tracks for R79,99/month, with no commitment to a contract. The fee allows users to stream music to their PCs, mobile phones and tablets and includes a mode for offline listening. A cheaper, R39,99 product offers streaming on PCs but excludes playback on mobiles or tablets and offers no offline support. Both products are available on a free, 15-day trial.
Prices and song availability compare favourably to what’s on offer from Simfy and rara.com. A big differentiator in Deezer’s favour could follow later if it partners with Orange in South Africa and if Orange launches an MVNO, bundling the music streaming service into its products. But if that’s to happen, it’s still some time off — an Orange MVNO in 2013 looks unlikely.
Although Deezer’s entry into the market is on a “soft-launch” basis for now, the move means South Africans are now served by three online music streaming providers, with a fourth — from software giant Microsoft — set to launch in the form of Xbox Music soon. Microsoft had hoped to launch Xbox Music before the end of 2012 but missed this deadline because it is still ironing out final “technical challenges”, according to the company’s South African MD, Mteto Nyati. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media