Analysis

Apple Music’s latest milestone is 36m paying customers


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Apple says its Apple Music service now has 36 million subscribers, up from “well over” 30 million in late September 2017. The milestone was shared with the Wall Street Journal as part of a wider piece on Apple Music’s progress – including the claim that it’s growing faster than Spotify in the US.

“Apple’s subscriber-account base in the US has been growing about 5% monthly, versus Spotify’s 2% clip… Assuming those growth rates continue, Apple will overtake Spotify in accounts this summer,” claimed the WSJ, citing ‘people in the record business familiar with figures reported by the two services’. Which is interesting, because if taken at face value, it suggests the sources are rightsholders, rather than Apple as you might expect.

It continues: “By one standard, Apple Music has already passed Spotify. Including people who are still in free or deeply discounted trial periods leading up to paid subscription, Apple Music has a slight edge on Spotify in the US, according to one of the people familiar with the figures. Apple Music has three to four times the number of such trial users as Spotify, according to this person, in part because it doesn’t offer a free tier.”

Globally, Spotify continues to grow its number of paying subscribers faster than Apple Music – around two million net additions a month versus just under 1.5 million respectively (although the complication in the latter calculation is just how “well over” 30 million Apple was at the end of September when it announced that milestone).

Our now-familiar line on all this is to look beyond the head-to-head competition to the bigger picture: two services adding subscribers at a decent pace, one freemium and one fully premium, with Amazon also growing strongly with its own combination of ‘free’ (bundled into Prime membership) and paid.

The fact that Apple’s ability to bundle Apple Music trials with its popular devices is paying off is good news for our industry. The fact that it’s paying off without seemingly cannibalising the growth of two different models from its main rivals is even better news.

Stuart Dredge

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