France-based music streaming service Deezer recently entered the U.S. market in an attempt to compete with rivals such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal in the ever growing streaming wars. Initially, it was reported that only a paid option would be available to music fans, but now it appears that a free streaming tier is available, with several confusing caveats.
Deezer just made the plunge into the competitive U.S. market. The streaming service currently operates in various European and worldwide territories, and had been released preliminarily to U.S. Sonos and Bose speaker owners along with a mobile offering in conjunction with Cricket Wireless.
Whether or not the company can really take on the big boys remains to be seen, but one advantage in the company's favor is its deep pockets due to the involvement of billionaire investor Len Blavatnik. The service does not have anything proprietary however, to really differentiate itself from industry stalwarts like Spotify and Apple Music.
Although Deezer, like Tidal, offers a higher resolution version of its service for audiophiles, known as Deezer Elite, that only applies to the limited number of users who own Sonos speakers and is not available to most of its customers.
Initially it was thought that Deezer would only be offering a paid version of its service, as do Apple Music and Tidal, as opposed to an optional free tier like that of Spotify. That decision made sense because copyright owners and artists receive higher royalties from paid tiers, and therefore are more likely to approve the use of their content on the music streaming service.
Now it appears, however, that Deezer is in fact offering a free tier, but the lengths to which subscribers must go in order to access it seem unwieldy and confusing. A representative for the company's PR service has stated that in order to access the free tier, customers must first sign up for a 30-day free trial and provide a valid credit card. If after the 30-day trial they wish not to continue with the paid version of the streamer, they will then have the option of converting to a free, ad-supported version of the site. A valid credit card, however, still must be on file with the company in order for them to do so.
The terms of service on Deezer's site state nothing about the free option, and some observers are speculating that the free tier will only be offered as a last ditch attempt to retain customers who affirmatively indicate their wish to cancel. The company has not elaborated on their plans, but it doesn't bode well that their initial foray into the competitive U.S. music streaming wars is already confusing potential subscribers.