Apple Music Is Not as Popular as Spotify … But It May Be Soon

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple Music launched almost four months ago, at the end of June. So many early adopters who have finished their three-month free trials have had to decide whether they wanted to start paying for a subscription to the streaming service. The question of how many users will choose to pay for Apple Music has been a topic of ongoing speculation, but we finally have some numbers from Apple, figures that reveal that while Apple Music isn’t as popular as Spotify, its growth is impressive and shouldn’t be taken lightly by Spotify and other competing streaming services.

Sam Byford reports for The Verge that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has given an update on the adoption of Apple Music. The streaming service currently has more than 15 million users; 6.5 million of those users are paying $9.99 a month, while 8.5 million are still on the three-month free trial. Kevin Tofel reports for ZDNet that in a worst-case situation, that works out to $65 million of revenue for Apple, based on the $9.99 monthly fee for individuals, even though some users are paying $14.99 per month for a family subscription. Assuming no change in the subscriber rate, that means Apple Music would pull in $780 million in revenue each year.

Byford notes the figures make Apple Music a smaller, but significant, competitor to Spotify, which we learned in June has 20 million paying customers, a group that accounts for just over a quarter of its overall user base. It’s impressive that Apple Music’s percentage of active users paying for a subscription is higher than Spotify’s.

Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for the Wall Street Journal that the figures suggest that nearly 60% of the users who started a trial subscription agreed to pay for the service after their trial period ended. By comparison, Spotify has 75 million active users, and only gathered its 20 million paying customers after nine years in business. Further, it took five and a half years for Spotify to hit 10 million paid customers.

Apple Music went live at the end of June, so October is the first full month in which Apple has started collecting payments. It’s quite possible that a number of users who intended to cancel their subscriptions forgot to do so ahead of their first bill in October, which could skew the figures. And many other users are just starting to use Apple Music for the first time, as demonstrated by the growth of its user base since August, when Apple’s Eddy Cue said that the service had 11 million trial subscribers.

Tim Cook said of the streaming service’s progress at this year’s WSJD Live conference, “It’s going really well. Fortunately, lots of people are liking it.” Wakabayashi reports that Cook said that consumers are responding positively, in particular, to one of the main features that differentiates its service from other streaming services: the human curation of playlists.

But Abhimanyu Ghosal reports for The Next Web that the figures Cook shared don’t tell the whole story behind Apple Music’s growth. Though some customers who are currently paying for the service likely forgot to turn off the automatic subscription renewal, Apple played fair and did send out reminder emails to help prevent people from paying for a subscription by accident. It’s not clear yet how many users will stick around in the long run. But Ghosal notes that once Apple Music arrives on Android, and enables users to share playlists and tracks across social networks and the Internet, Apple’s streaming service could give arch-rival Spotify a run for its money.

Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for the Wall Street Journal that the figures suggest that nearly 60% of the users who started a trial subscription agreed to pay for the service after their trial period ended. By comparison, Spotify has 75 million active users, and only gathered its 20 million paying customers after nine years in business. Further, it took five and a half years for Spotify to hit 10 million paid customers.

Apple Music went live at the end of June, so October is the first full month in which Apple has started collecting payments. It’s quite possible that a number of users who intended to cancel their subscriptions forgot to do so ahead of their first bill in October, which could skew the figures. And many other users are just starting to use Apple Music for the first time, as demonstrated by the growth of its user base since August, when Apple’s Eddy Cue said that the service had 11 million trial subscribers.

Tim Cook said of the streaming service’s progress at this year’s WSJD Live conference, “It’s going really well. Fortunately, lots of people are liking it.” Wakabayashi reports that Cook said that consumers are responding positively, in particular, to one of the main features that differentiates its service from other streaming services: the human curation of playlists.

But Abhimanyu Ghosal reports for The Next Web that the figures Cook shared don’t tell the whole story behind Apple Music’s growth. Though some customers who are currently paying for the service likely forgot to turn off the automatic subscription renewal, Apple played fair and did send out reminder emails to help prevent people from paying for a subscription by accident. It’s not clear yet how many users will stick around in the long run. But Ghosal notes that once Apple Music arrives on Android, and enables users to share playlists and tracks across social networks and the Internet, Apple’s streaming service could give arch-rival Spotify a run for its money.

Hayley Tsukayama reports for The Washington Post that Apple Music gained a third of Spotify’s paid subscribers in just four months, largely because it has an extensive distribution system in the form of the large installed base of iOS devices. It’s very easy to sign up for Apple Music, and Tsukayama notes that the streaming service has the natural advantage of being able to piggyback off of iTunes, which is the leading music download program in the U.S.

But that doesn’t mean that Apple Music is a proven success yet, since the streaming service is just getting started. Apple has publicly stated that its goal is to reach 100 million paid users for Apple Music, and currently the company is less than 10% of the way toward that goal. However, it’s worth noting that while free trials are a proven way to get people addicted to something new, the number of people who continue to pay for a service once their trial is over is typically quite small.

So while Apple Music is only a third as popular as Spotify, the growth of Apple’s nascent streaming service is quite impressive. As Apple Music makes its way to Android and becomes more established on iOS, the streaming music world can likely expect to gain a strong new competitor.

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