Deezer bringing Hi-Fi streaming to Japan

Deezer is making its debut in Japan. The streaming service is rolling out its Hi-Fi tier, which offers high-resolution, CD-quality audio files to listeners, beginning December 8. The subscription will cost 1,960 yen ($17) a month. Deezer is partnering with hardware companies Onkyo Pioneer and Yamaha for the Japanese rollout.

“We’re confident that we can be the number one in the Hi-Fi sector, appealing to real audiophiles who buy high end speakers and music equipment and want their streaming service to be of that same high-quality calibre,” Deezer CEO Asia Henrik Karlberg told Billboard.

He also noted that Deezer’s Hi-Fi offering has allowed the company to secure licensing deals for local recorded music: “The way to get that content is through the HiFi model and the [higher returns paid] to the labels and artists, at an audio quality that the artists are a lot more comfortable with sharing on streaming.”

This launch strategy is similar to how Deezer approached the U.S. market. It launched stateside in 2014 with only its lossless FLAC listening option (then called the Elite tier) and only through Sonos wireless speakers. After initially targeting the audiophile audience, Deezer did eventually make other tiers available in the U.S.

Japan could prove a more complicated market to reach. Local listeners have been making some shifts toward streaming, but the lion’s share of Japan’s music revenue is dominated by physical sales.

Anna Washenko