Standing Out from the Crowd 7th February, 2017

The digital music streaming industry has become extremely crowded in recent years with several leading companies vying for market share and growth. In order to differentiate themselves, the major competitors are choosing ever varying strategies, with sponsorship emerging as one of the most innovative.

As of September 2016 over 100 Million users worldwide paid for a music streaming service, a figure that is constantly growing. The most streamed songs on Spotify, the world leader in terms of paid music streaming services, have over 900 million listens. Spotify, along with Apple Music, Tidal and Pandora (US only) have emerged as market leaders with others such as Deezer and Soundcloud also competing for the same substantial audience.

The key way these companies have tried to differentiate so far is through unique content. Tidal offer exclusive, high quality music videos. Artist exclusivity is also a tactic used by Tidal, as well as Apple Music, while Spotify has concentrated on having the largest offering.

Deezer has recently adopted a new tactic of differentiating through sponsorship. Deezer, a French based company with 6 million users worldwide, has partnered with Manchester United Football Club and Barcelona Football Club as “Official Music Partner.”

Traditionally Deezer has relied on B2B deals to increase its user base through partnerships with mobile networks. This new approach showcases Deezer adopting sponsorship as a key part of their marketing and expansion strategy. Deezer will appeal directly to consumers, encouraging them to download the app out of choice, rather than receive it through a tie in.

This innovative partnership with football teams works particularly well given the strong link between sports fans and music fans.  Whether unveiling a new player with the help of a musician, as Manchester United, Adidas and Stormzy recently did, or the frequent appearance of new bands on popular TV show Soccer AM.

Deezer are guaranteed to meaningfully engage this audience as players will create new playlists which fans can download. Deezer will also be responsible for the music on match day where further activation and consumer engagement will be possible. Deezer will not only benefit from the direct access to fans, but association as the music streaming service for sports fans.

Deezer are attempting to open a whole new channel to reach consumers, purely through sponsorship. Of course, Deezer’s competitors may choose to replicate this strategy, but Deezer’s imagination and creativity in using sponsorship as a differentiation tool gives them first mover advantage and a perception of originality that is crucial in such a competitive market. This is a demonstration of the power of sponsorship when seeking to stand out from the crowd.

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