The streaming market is enjoying a boom but, far from getting comfortable, music platform Deezer has unveiled a global scheme to champion upcoming artists, saying the industry has a responsibility to do so.
Dubbed Deezer Next, the initiative is not unlike Spotify's Spotlight programme and will support musicians in various countries, with three being supported globally. As part of the scheme, Deezer will work directly with the artists, record labels and managers to cultivate and develop their profile.
The first musicians to benefit from international promotion are Sussex singer-songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man, one woman folk band Maggie Rogers and former Clean Bandit and Rudimental collaborator Anne-Marie.
Next is being overseen by Deezer's vice-president of artist marketing Sulinna Ong who joined the platform last year. She believes a significant obstacle facing the music business is developing and introducing new artists, but notes that the shift to streaming has paved the way for Deezer to address this.
"We deal with content creators, artist managers and labels and one of the biggest challenges in the music industry today is breaking new talent, that’s felt across the board whatever sector of the music business that you’re in," she says. "And so, at Deezer we do want to contribute and we are committed to doing our part."
In the US alone, streaming is derailing the dominance of visual competitors like YouTube and Vevo, with audio on-demand services noting an increase in streams of 83% year-on-year. In the UK, meanwhile, the amount of cash spent on music streaming services grew by £165m – more than enough to offset the crash in download and physical revenues.
Ong points out that it's "in everyone's interests," to promote emerging artists, because it contributes to the general health of the industry and is "key" to keeping it vibrant.
Being part of the journey
Deezer has been busy since the start of 2017, inking deals with the likes of Manchester United and FC Barcelona, but ultimately it is still a challenger in the market, boasting 10 million active paying subscribers globally against market leader Spotify's 40 million.
When it comes to the question of whether getting behind emerging artists will help Deezer cut through the noise and rise above its competitors Ong says that Next is important for Deezer in terms of showing its commitment to new acts. However, she recongises another goal of the project is to prove the company can be an "important part of the journey" when it comes to evolving artists' careers.
She also believes its important for Deezer to keep the industry moving, saying: "If we don’t develop acts to take the place of superstars then we’re not going to have anything left to fill those shoes."
While the concern over what happens when the Beyonces and Ed Sheerans of the world decide to down their mics is central to Deezer's interest in cultivating talent, Ong concedes that is it also about the brand's relationship with labels and content creators.
Powerful marketing platform
On top of the three global priorities Deezer will choose up 12 emerging artists per country including in the UK and Ireland market. Outwith this region, artists will also be selected for promotion in France, Latin America, Germany and the US.
Music from one of the global priority artists will feature in an upcoming Deezer TV advertising campaign, as well as getting a boost from playlisting and the creation of individual content and campaigns.
"Our approach is really an integrated one, and what I mean by that is Deezer is a powerful marketing platform and we’re running integrated content that really aims to work in every angle across the marketing mix that we have at our disposal," says Ong.
Outwith Next Deezer has already been running full-scale campaigns for artists within its walls. It has worked with bands such as Little Mix and Metallica to go beyond the simple album exclusives offered by its rivals.
The current market means it takes much longer to break artists because people are more likely to listen to them on playlists among a myriad of others rather than focusing on the experience of album. But Ong says Deezer wants to offset this by "triggering imagination and interest to look deeper past just the one song and create a fanbase."
For Metallica's November release, 'Hardwired... to Self-Destruct', Deezer curated a push which comprised special curated playlists from band members, email, social media, push notifications and OOH billboards. In the past it has offered "top streamers" meet and greet opportunities with their favourite bands, including Green Day.
"We tie in all of these aspects that we have at our disposal to run campaigns that really think about how are we going to boost streams on an artist’s release or a piece of content," muses Ong adding, "We’re really focusing on connecting our users closer to their favourite artists both in the product and outside of it."
With a burgeoning 40m strong catalogue of music fans can expect plenty of the same from Deezer this year as it looks to close the gap between itself and more established platforms and build upon its commitment to support emerging artists internationally.