Last month, Deezer announced an exclusive partnership
with Rotana Records, the world’s largest Arabic record label, to bring the company music to the following places: “Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwai, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as other selected countries.” Billboard
also reported Hans-Holger Albrecht, Deezer’s CEO, said the company was also looking to open a headquarters in Dubai to go along with the increased expansion in the region.
Now Spotify didn’t want to be left out of the conversation, so it pressed a few emails about plans for this region of the world. The company announced it would be available in
: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Music Ally on the same day got to speak with Claudius Boller and Michael Krause
, two of Spotify’s directors in the region, and a couple points stuck out to me.
The pair dodged a question around Deezer’s recently announced exclusivity of Rotana Records. Now this is fairly in line with the Spotify’s years long position that exclusives are bad. However that weak argument doesn’t hold much water in markets where Spotify doesn’t already hold a foothold. Fans in these markets don’t know Spotify and if an artist or label choose exclusivity, Spotify without users holds little leverage at the table.
Next what struck out to me was the multiple quotes about piracy, here is one from Krause to be specific (emphasis is from Music Ally):
There is still piracy going on here, including stream-ripping and [illegal] downloading. The market is hoping for a second ‘Latin American effect’ where free music-streaming services provide an alternative to piracy, and create a larger [legal] market.
Beyond the still looming paranoia of piracy, Spotify found success in Latin America though early telco deals and rather sudden smartphone adoption in the region, which might offer a reason why a recent report showed YouTube drastically outperforming other services in Latin America
. It’s free, there are videos, and do a quick Google Trend search of “YouTube MP3” to see how popular the platform really is. Now I’ll stop being glib and say Spotify did find success in Latin America, but the Middle East and North Africa hold another issue: much stiffer competition.