Deezer vs Spotify – who wins the music streaming battle?

I have just started using a new music streaming app called Deezer. If you use Spotify already then you’ll already be familiar with the concept of Deezer. It wants to give you cheap / free streaming of any music you could possibly want to listen to, to whatever device (pc, mobile, tablet…) you could want to listen to it on.

I downloaded the iphone app last night and had a quick play. This morning I have started using it a bit more (currently trying out the ‘similar artists’ radio function while it’s plugged into my speaker dock) and I have downloaded the ipad app and registered with the website as well. What follows are my initial impressions of Deezer, having used it for a few hours now.  The main point of comparison here is Spotify, seeing as Deezer is clearly going after the same market.

First Impressions of Deezer

WOW! It let’s me download tracks to my iphone without having to pay a monthly subscription fee like Spotify. Spotify charge me £10 per month for the privelege and I am still cheesed off about paying so much just so I can download my songs onto my mobile. I thought it was a necessary evil but look at this Spotify, you now have competition in the form of Deezer that’s letting me download to my mobile for FREE.

Deezer 1 – Spotify 0

Oh dear, the first bunch of tracks I tried to download didn’t download. They didn’t even play. The play and download buttons are greyed out, it looks like you can’t play these tracks. Maybe Deezer hasn’t got the rights to the songs yet. But hang on, these are tracks from the “Deezer Recommends” tab in the “Pop” section. Why the heck is Deezer recommending tracks that I can’t even play or download!? No such problems have I ever encountered on Spotify…

Deezer 1 – Spotify 1

I click a bunch of songs to download to my mobile, and it starts downloading them pretty quickly. But, as soon as I switch my phone to stand by the downloads stop. The next morning and my tracks still haven’t downloaded. Boo. They should offer a button within the app that prevents the iphone from screen locking until downloads have finished. To be fair, Spotify is just as much a pain in the bum on this front, having to leave the app on and open to download tracks. Spotify promised me track-downloading-while-app-in-the-background capabilities, but I have not yet seen this promise fulfilled!

Deezer 1 – Spotify 1

I like the fact that in Deezer, it not only has the functions of Spotify built in (on demand music streaming, download to mobile etc), but it also has the functions of personalised internet radio stations (a la, Pandora, We7) built in to the same app as well. So, I can listen to my favourite music or switch to a personalised radio station to discover new music easily and within the same app.

Deezer 2 – Spotify 1

There seems to be a bug with the album art in the personalised radio section of Deezer. The album cover art is stuck on the first track I played. All subsequent tracks played display the same, wrong, album cover art. This is happening on the personalised radio player section of the iphone app. Haven’t had long enough to test if this happens everywhere in the iphone app and on the ipad app too.

Deezer 2 – Spotify 2

There is an ipad app for Deezer. It looks pretty too, although I have to say it’s pretty much a direct rip off (visually speaking anyway) of the Spotify PC / Mac app:

Deezer 3 – Spotify 2

Deezer lets me sign in through Facebook, but importantly I don’t HAVE TO connect my Deezer and Facebook accounts in order to get a Deezer account.

Deezer 4 – Spotify 2

I like the look and feel of Deezer’s website. It’s clean, modern, slick and elegant. BUT, there seems to be no PC/Mac app to download to my computer? There seems to be no option to save my Deezer playlists for offline listening, it appears to listen to Deezer on my computer, I have to be connected to the internet. Spotify’s computer app is great, and the fact that you can import your mp3s from itunes into makes it a viable competitor to itunes as my go-to computer music app of choice.

Deezer 4 – Spotify 3

Deezer has ‘unlimited music’ even from the free account I signed up with. On Spotify you have to pay a monthly subscription fee to get unlimited music

Deezer 5 – Spotify 3

I wonder how long can this free model work for Deezer? Spotify were running free unlimited music for a period of time but had to shut it down and start pushing people towards their subscription model – it simply was not profitable for them to give unlimited free music. Can Deezer maintain this? I think not. I think this is an introductory offer to get users signed up, and after the intro period Deezer will switch to a model more akin to Spotify’s. At this point, I think a lot of the benefits of Deezer over Spotify will disappear. In fact, I have just found this in the ‘subscriptions’ tab of my account on the website:

I have a Deezer ‘Premium +’ subscription till 24/12/2011? It seems that I have been automatically hooked on to the premium account as a new user. I can’t see any price plan details on Deezer’s website for what it will cost me when / if I have to start paying for this service.

So, it would seem on first inspection that Deezer carries some significant benefits over using Spotify. Mobile downloads and unlimited music for free are massive plus points for me, as is the personalised radio player. But, I bet you mobile downloads and unlimited music will be put behind a pay wall soon enough (it can’t be profitable giving these away for free for an extended period of time) and I heard on the grapevine that Spotify is soon to release its own personalised radio player within the app. Furthermore, Spotify is an established player in the market now and is opening up the app to third party developers, so they can start developing apps for it. This will extend the functionality of Spotify massively, making it a much richer and customisable experience (assuming enough third party developers start developing for it, which I am sure they will).

Oh, I also hear Spotify’s ipad app is on the way. And Deezer’s desktop app is on the way as well, I have seen it mentioned on their website but there’s no download link yet

Who Wins?

With all this in mind, it seems that the differences between Deezer and Spotify, while they may be significant currently, are diminishing constantly. Soon it will basically come down to a question of price. OK Spotify, I am subscribed to you basically because I want to download all my tracks to my mobile device. Is Deezer going to offer that any cheaper than you are? Will it be cheap enough to make me go through the hassle of porting all my music and playlists over to a new service? Time will tell, the battle between the two services is only just beginning. At the moment, Deezer has a slight edge thanks to its pricing (can’t get much better than free). But, with some killer developments on the way from Spotify, and with Deezer’s pay wall looming, this could soon change drastically.

My hunch, my little prediction for the future, Spotify will win. It’s had a big head start on Deezer and importantly, it’s the first player in its market to start allowing third party app developers to make apps for it. It could be the “Apple iPhone” of the music streaming world. I think it will take one of the big US based streaming players (Spotify still isn’t that big over there) or Apple (if Apple were to start building all this functionality into iTunes) to knock Spotify off its current path to becoming the streaming music service of choice for the masses (at least here in the UK anyway). Only time will tell!


One comment on “Deezer vs Spotify – who wins the music streaming battle?

  1. Pingback: – yet another music streaming service launches | Obsessive Compulsive Technology

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