Pulling the plug rather quickly on its initial public offering a few months ago doesn't mean Paris-based music streaming service Deezer has given up raising new cash.
On Wednesday, the company said it has closed a $109 million (€100 million) round led by Access Industries, with additional participation from French telecom Orange (oran). The new funding, Deezer says, will be used to help it continue its international growth and to add more products and music to its service.
After filing to go public in late September, Deezer ultimately decided against an IPO just a few weeks later. At the time, Deezer planned to raise as much as $400 million through its IPO, which would have pegged its valuation at roughly $1.1 billion.
"With the global uncertainties of the current market, we felt it would be smarter to postpone our IPO and raise private money instead. This round of funding gives us more options, one of which is to go public," Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht told Fortune via email. He declined to comment on the company's current valuation.
But even though it has managed to raise a fairly large new round, Deezer is still facing a tough battle in the music streaming arena. Founded in 2007, Deezer has been competing with Swedish rival Spotify for years, which raised $526 million at a $8.53 billion valuation last summer. While the latter recently revealed it has more than 20 million paying customers, Deezer only has about 6 million, according to its website and IPO prospectus. Moreover, because of some of Deezer's bundling deals with telecom carriers, only 3.8 million of them are generating recurring revenue—the rest prepaid upfront but might not have actually used the service.
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The business is undeniably difficult because of friction over payments between the streaming services and music labels and artists. Meanwhile, streaming companies are still searching for a way to make money, including Deezer.
Though it's not yet profitable, the company expects to be by the end of 2018, according to Albrecht. He adds that for now, Deezer has chosen to spend on marketing in order to grow instead of focusing on achieving profitability sooner.
To differentiate itself, Deezer introduced a high-fidelity version of its streaming service for music connoisseurs who want a higher quality experience, has been striking deals with local telecom carriers to help it easily expand into emerging markets like Latin America. It also acquired Stitcher, an online radio service that lets users listen to news, podcasts, and other content whenever they want to. Deezer also said on Wednesday that it has expanded its catalogue to 40 million songs.
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Still, in the U.S. at least, it seems the race it narrowing down to two main competitors, with Apple Music and Spotify duking it out following the shutdown of Rdio (Pandora bought its assets) and Tidal's instability. Just three months after its debut, Apple Music already had 15 million users with 6.5 million of them paying for the service (the others were still in their free trial). Now, six months later, it has 10 million paying subscribers—something Spotify took six years to achieve.
And yet, Deezer remains hopeful. "We believe that there is a place for us in the U.S. market through a tailored approach. We’ve approached the market at both ends of the spectrum," Albrecht told Fortune, highlighting the company's partnerships with speaker makers Bose and Sonos, and mobile U.S.-based mobile carriers AT&T and Cricket to offer affordable subscriptions.
Deezer previously raised almost $150 million in total funding from investors that include Access Industries, Idinvest Partners, and Dotcorp Asset Management.