You announced some major new developments. How did your profile change?
Qobuz has formed in 2008, for three years we are open in Germany. We offer both streaming and download services. In Germany, a lot of people are interested in downloads especially downloads in high resolution quality.
In our profile you find a 9.99 Euro streaming offer called Premium with a maximum mp3 streaming quality of 320 kbit/s. And we have a 19.99 Euro subscription called Hi-Fi that allows a FLAC 16 bit/44,1 kHz lossless streaming.
The Sublim subscription is the only subscription in the world that combines a streaming service and a permanent reduction on downloads. You get all of the Qobuz catalogue in 16 Bit/44.1 kHz FLAC plus hires downloads at a special discounted price. Sublim subscription price is 219.99 Euro per year. In May we just launched the Sublim+ offer which is a high resolution streaming subscription. You can unlimitedly stream hires files in 24 Bit up to 192 kHz plus download hires files at a special price for 349.99 Euro per year. Sublim+ is the very first high resolution streaming service. It is of course tailored for the needs of the passionate music lovers, the music enthusiasts and audiophiles.
With this subscription we really want to show that we decided to go for true hires music. We believe that now in 2017 in Europe the infrastructure, the band width and the data plan are ready for such an offer. We estimated what it would cost to stream high resolution files in terms of mobile data flat. If you for instance stream 30 minutes a day of hires audio – which is a lot because you also use the other streaming qualities as well – this accumulates in 10 GBytes of mobile usage at the end of the month. That is important to know. Because in Europe you have a lot of carriers that developed unlimited or 100GByte / month. This shows that high resolution streaming is something that is viable, it is a technology that works right now. It is a clear message that we want to carry out that we want to provide the best music streams that do not compromise at all.
What else did you announce?
We will renew all our applications for iOS and Android devices. The new desktop version is already available for PC and Mac users.
This will revive the core of the music experience that we provide. When you look at other services which are on the market you see that a lot of them have the same approach in terms of music genres and presentation. Often important and interesting information of the albums are missing. The information you get if you buy a CD in a physical store disappeared in the music services. For us it is important to deliver this kind of information on our service. We want to respect the music, the artist and everybody who contributes to this product. We have a lot of exclusive editorial content in different languages. This is a very distinctive approach for our users.
What kind of music do you offer in hires?
We offer 70.000 albums in hires covering all kinds of genres. We offer main stream albums in hires like Ed Sheeran, Depeche Mode or Deep Purple as well as classical or jazz music.
It is a wider catalogue compared to other services. And it grows very fast. We’ve been working for years with major and independent labels to get as much hires albums as possible.
We now really put emphasis on the relationship with labels because up to now there was no reason for them to deliver the hires version of the albums. Up to now, they do not deliver the hires versions of the albums to streaming platforms because there was none that had an interest in using them. We convinced them that Qobuz users are really interested in the original quality of the music. They are interested in the quality that directly comes out if the studio.
How can the end user listen to the hires streams?
Qobuz is available on several devices: iOS, Android, Mac and PC and all of them support hires. The only question is whether the listener´s hardware is supporting hires. If you look at the smart phone brands like Samsung, LG, HTC or Huawei, all their latest models support hires, just Apple iPhone does not. So the users need a DAC. But today, you can have light and mobile DACs starting at 40 Euro that you can easily carry together with your smart phone.
When it comes to domestic use, you can use Qobuz on any high fidelity system. More and more audio brands have integrated Qobuz through their own applications while others are adopting new standards such as GoogleCast.
Google ChromeCast is a 40 Euro dongle you simply plug in your hi-fi system. It supports hires and it allows wireless streaming so that you can stream hires files from your smart phone, tablet or computer. In general it means that hires audio now is more acceptable than it was before because the hardware equipment really leveled up and have the necessary support for hires audio. And additionally, on our apps we give a lot of recommendation and reviews about the best way to enjoy hires music. We have a page on our website with detailed explanations on hires audio. Our editorial team regularly tests and recommends the suitable hi-Fi equipment for enjoying hires quality, for all budgets. This is a kind of hi-fi guide which we provide.
You just started with your new service. What do you expect for the future?
What we already witnessed is that we have a lot of conversion within our existing users. A lot of them already changed to the new hires streaming subscription.
There are people who still care about possessing the files, they want to download them and for them the Sublim subscription is interesting. Normally a hires album costs between 15 and 17 Euro. If you are a Sublim or Sublim+ subscriber you have a yearly commitment that gives you access to permanent discount on hires downloads which are then available at a price of 8 or 9 Euro. Probably in future we have a lot of users who have both consumptions: streaming and download. The download only users will not convert to Sublim+ I believe. But the majority will go for hires streaming.
Before launching the price for the Sublim+ subscription we looked at the average revenue per user. Hi-fi or Sublim subscribers generated an average revenue per user of about 400 Euro a year. They had a streaming subscription of 200 Euro a year and on top they downloaded hires qualities for 200 Euro per year. For those people it is interesting to switch to Sublim+ which gives them access to unlimited hires streaming.
What other developments can be expected in future?
Our download website is going to be renewed. The most exciting news on that is that we are going to integrate the DSD format for downloading as well. We are working very hard with labels now to get a wide DSD catalogue. This new download option will come up during this summer season.
We have new improvements to our apps in terms of the user library. All the functionality which deals with the way you store, collect and arrange music in the library will be improved.
And last but not least we have partnerships to the industry which we want to develop further. In Europe we have built up the so called Qobuz society which is a network of hi-fi retailers that partner Qobuz throughout Europe. That´s something we started one year ago. Now it is expanding and we have a focus on that. As a result we now count 600 Qobuz partner retailers. They display Qobuz in their stores and customers can listen to Qobuz in the best possible listening conditions. In return, we give them exposure on our website. In October, we will do a tour to big German retailers to inform them about hires audio and the way we are working.
We also develop partnerships to the capital chains like Saturn and Media Market. We did it in France already and we expand to whole Europe. And we like to build up partnerships to concert venues like Elbphilharmonie for instance. We will communicate about this in detail in the second half of the year.
Finally, we keep expanding in Europe and in the world. We announced that we are going to open to more countries. Right now we are available to users in nine European countries: France, Germany, UK, Benelux, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland. We will open in Spain, Italy and Poland. In a next step we will open in USA and in Canada as well.