16 February, 2023Print
Qobuz Celebrates Four Years in the US: “If you want to get closer to the music, you want Qobuz” (Bob Lefsetz)Since ushering in the Hi-Res streaming revolution, Qobuz has maintained the top spot as the music lovers’ service of choice
Since Qobuz launched as America’s first Hi-Res streaming and download service in 2019 – four years ago this week – it has led the market in sound quality and commitment to music while driving year-after-year growth, cultivating a discerning fan base, counting everyone from Christian McBride to Neil Young, and expanding its offering to include best-in-class exclusive releases, online and in-person events, and more.
In the wake of Qobuz’ 2019 US launch, other streamers have played catch-up by adding or announcing higher-level listening tiers, and this Qobuz-started Hi-Res domino effect has helped kick the idea of better sound from the audiophile world into the mainstream: sales of hardware have exploded, people are placing more value on the listening “experience” (just look at 30-year-high vinyl sales), and better-sounding music has graduated in accessibility from its once thousands-of-dollars barrier of entry.
And throughout the Hi-Res streaming revolution that it triggered, Qobuz has retained its role as the only true choice for music lovers. In addition to having the best sound, the company also leads the field in adding context to the music by offering PDF booklets and credits, highly curated playlists, expert editorial features including Panoramas (deep dives into an artist’s catalog or a singular work, influential eras, and record labels) and more for the music lover who wants to be immersed in what they're hearing. When music industry pundit Bob Lefsetz first tried Qobuz, he said “If you want to get closer to the music, you want Qobuz.”
Here are a few highlights of Qobuz’s first four years:
• The streaming service saw a 38% increase in US subscribers in the 2022 calendar year, and download sales were up by 17%, in a world that has seen download sales decline nearly across the board.
• In the past year, the US has become the biggest market for Qobuz. Qobuz is now available in 25 countries.
• A wide array of trendsetting artists have partnered with Qobuz, with Wayne Coyne and Christian McBride serving as Qobuz artist ambassadors. Other artists and labels who have released projects exclusively on Qobuz include Zappa Records / Captain Beefheart, Tower of Power, Makaya McCraven, International Anthem, Westbound Records, THX (Dinosaur Jr., Anat Cohen, Circuit des Yeux), Jazz Dispensary, Concord.
• Neil Young has become a vocal fan, using platforms like The Howard Stern Show to shout out Qobuz and direct listeners to stream music in Hi-Res. Last fall, to celebrate the release of the Neil + Crazy Horse album World Record, Qobuz put out a Times Square billboard which Neil shared to his personal website. To continue the celebration of the new album, Crazy Horse’s own Nils Lofgren and Billy Talbot joined Qobuz Live for a conversation on their music and process.
• The biggest names in audio and hardware have also partnered with Qobuz: Roon, Bowers & Wilkins, Sonos, THX, and Harman, Yamaha, NAD/Bluesound, Klipsch, SVS, Crestron, Grado. Many DACs have partnered with Qobuz (THX, Dragonfly) to make Hi-Res streaming (in full) more accessible at various price points.
• Qobuz supports and has become the official streaming partner of most high-end audio shows and is proud to support the high-end audio industry at AXPONA, Capital AudioFest, Florida Audio Expo, Pacific Audio Fest, Audio Advice, Munich High End.
• The top music journalists work to help Qobuz deliver the best editorial around. Writers who have written for Qobuz include Pitchfork contributor and Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal, former Stereophile music editor Robert Baird, and former LA Times music staff writer Randall Roberts.
• Since the pandemic, Qobuz has brought its “boutique in a superstore world” approach to digital music through partnerships with the likes of Record Store Day and Secretly Group’s Paved Paradise traveling record fair, and events like the 2022 Qobuz SXSW showcase featuring Circuit des Yeux and Moor Mother among other up-and-coming artists, as well as a recurring show series (ft. a live-music-to-Hi-Res-exclusive pipeline) with International Anthem at Brooklyn’s Public Records.
• Qobuz Live, Qobuz’ livestream event series on Facebook and YouTube, has continued to evolve since the pandemic. Jazz roundtables have become a specialty, as Qobuz continues to be the #1 choice for jazz lovers. The company has held roundtables about the work and legacies of Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, John Coltrane, and Charles Mingus that have included music luminaries Ravi Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Sy Johnson, Greg Tate, Terri Lyne Carrington, Lakecia Benjamin, and Shabaka Hutchings.
And here’s some of what the industry and the media have said about Qobuz:
"Like visiting a record shop, hearing from the owner and just listening to albums.”
“That is a great service”
(Listen to Neil on Qobuz here: qob.uz/neil-young)
“Reminds me of listening to my favorite college radio DJs in the early 80’s, who really knew their music and cared about turning us on to it”
(Listen to The Flaming Lips on Qobuz here: qob.uz/the-flaminglips)
“Our favorite service for serious music lovers”
“The win goes to Qobuz”
“As I kept going back and forth, it was clear … on Qobuz I was just a little closer to the music. I couldn’t only hear the sounds, I could see the players.”
“I expect that most audiophiles, musicians, and others who have a strong personal or professional interest in music reproduction will make a calculation similar to mine and invest a little extra in getting the best sound [with Qobuz]”
New York Times’ Wirecutter
“Just put on the same track [on Qobuz and Spotify] … you’ll hear a clear difference.”
The Washington Post
“As far as I’m concerned, the ‘z’ in Qobuz stands for Zappa”
“Fans on Qobuz can experience Frank [Zappa’s] genius in the way he would have wanted his music to sound.”
Bruce Resnikoff, President & CEO of UMe.