Deezer's Marika Malliaris on catalogue, artist initiatives and exporting UK talent to major markets

Deezer's Marika Malliaris on catalogue, artist initiatives and exporting UK talent to major markets

From user-centric royalty payments to the evolution of streaming, Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira shared his vision for the future of the sector with Music Week.

Ahead of their financial results later this month, the Paris-based company continues to build its presence in key markets, including the UK. The latest development is a big global partnership with Sonos.

Here, Marika Malliaris, UK editorial manager at Deezer, reveals the DSP’s artist-led agenda as it targets growth in the British market…

There are several other DSPs established in the UK. What particular strengths do you think Deezer has in terms of what it can offer artists?

“A huge selling point of Deezer to artists, specifically UK artists, is our footprint in major markets like France and Brazil, where we rank as one of the top music streaming platforms by market share. For artists, we create content opportunities in these markets – both on and off platform – that they may not otherwise have had. This allows establishing acts to expand in these markets, and we also provide unique levels of access to their most engaged superfans via our fandom programme.

“A few examples of this are the well-known Deezer Sessions, which are now held in Paris, Sao Paulo, London and Berlin. We also have a renewed focus on events, from DJ sets on the rooftop of our HQ in Paris to one-off live shows that we also livestream to our users in-app.” 

Catalogue performs strongly on Deezer. How do you work with UK labels to support catalogue campaigns? 

“Catalogue always performs strongly as newer and younger generations seek out and discover the classics – from The Beatles to Bowie – and this is reflected in the popularity of our Essentials playlists. Our Best Of British playlist series spanning hits from the 1950s to 2010s is a core part of Deezer's editorial offering as fans can enjoy their all-time favourites, and new fans can still discover a Kate Bush or Elton John track no matter when it was released. 

“One way we work with labels is to identify songs loved by popular and legendary artists. This includes our Pocket Songs artist-led playlists, where the artist gets to showcase the songs and musicians that inspired them in their career. This involves us working closely with both the artists and labels to build and launch these campaigns – helping catalogue songs reach a new generation of potential fans.

“We also look to harness catalogue music through our Flow feature — particularly through the different moods, where the listener can amplify the way they’re feeling through choosing a particular mood. A large part of our playlist consumption is via moods in Flow. Naturally we also see an uptick in catalogue music when it trends again, such as Kate Bush last year or The Cramps more recently. The aim of our approach to catalogue music is not to approach it like an encyclopaedia of music, but instead to draw listeners into music that speaks to them at the right time and the right place.”

Alternative acts have been recording cover versions for a Deezer initiative, InVersions. How strong is the relationship with the UK artist community?

“A strong relationship with the artist community is essential for us across all markets, especially in the UK, given it is one of the largest music markets and the home of so many incredible developing and established acts. The list of UK artists we've worked with is endless – from Raye to Sam Smith – and it will always remain our goal to support these artists and make their stories heard worldwide. 

“This is particularly true of our InVersions series – where we invite artists to cover songs important to them from a particular decade in music. We’ve featured Fontaines DC covering The Beach Boys and Arlo Parks covering Angèle’s Ta Reine. More recently, we’ve had a host of prominent artists covering some major ’90s hits on InVersions 90s, from Soccer Mommy covering REM’s Losing My Religion to Ayra Starr covering TLC’s iconic hit No Scrubs. The brilliant success of InVersions ’90s would not have been possible without the joint effort and support from these partnerships, with incredible UK acts like Rachel Chinouriri and Easy Life contributing to the project.” 

A strong relationship with the artist community is essential for us across all markets, especially in the UK

Marika Malliaris

Deezer is putting more attention on to emerging domestic talent. How can your Focus initiative help break artists?  

“Helping listeners to find, explore and love new music – from the classics to new up-and-coming artists – is at the core of what we do. Part of that includes Deezer Focus – our developing artist programme which aims to grow UK artists to an international audience. This sees our UK editorial team select emerging artists that are resonating with listeners in the market, with a selection process that takes into account both streaming patterns, overall buzz across social media, and new talent introduced by our label and distribution partners. The hope and mission is for artists to reach new fans and build an engaged audience.

“Focus includes five different social media pieces to get audiences to really know the artist, alongside an exclusive Deezer Session filmed in Paris. The end result is multiple pieces of socially relevant content to tell the artist's story with premium visuals, which are released over the course of an entire month. Focus artists receive extensive editorial support and homepage promotion during this month, really amping up their project release. In the past year, we've had the pleasure of working with LF System, Dylan, Knucks and Pip Millett to name a few. On average, Focus artists in 2022 saw an increase of 32% in their global streams, with exceptional cases  – such as Thomas Headon and Poppy Ajudha – seeing their MAUs increase by 133% and 145% respectively.”

What are the key UK playlists for supporting artists and new music? Does Deezer have any particular genre strengths?

“When it comes to new music, we endeavour to curate homes across various music tastes and genres, updated every week for users to explore. Our tastemaker playlists such as Fresh UK Rap are a vital part of music discovery and championing domestic artists. 

“Brand New UK is our leading new music playlist in the UK and is updated every Friday with a selection of 50 new tracks. It has almost six million fans, which shows the importance of up-to-date access to the top new releases each week. Breaking UK is the ultimate discovery playlist where we feature fresh new artists with undeniable starpower.” 

Deezer has a global presence with a particular strength in France. Can you help international, non-English language acts make inroads in the UK?

“As the home of music, we want to help listeners explore any and every song, artist or genre – regardless of language or geography. That’s why we offer access to our entire catalogue of 90 million-plus songs from around the world – from K-Pop to Reggaeton.

“We’ve also been working hard to help listeners to better understand the music they are listening to, in any language. That’s why we’ve focused heavily on providing accurate translations of music – so listeners understand what is being sung, as well as the meaning behind it. Deezer was the first to introduce in-app lyric translations, working with LyricFind to do so. We’re also looking to expand this further – making more translations available in more languages, and even working with the BELEM Project to help the industry better build capacity for translations and help artists to monetise them.”

Subscribers can read our interview with Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira.

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