When Apple said in October that its Apple Music service had 8.5m paying customers, it was an impressive figure.
However, it included people who’d forgotten to cancel their subscription before the initial three-month free trial ended. How many would stick with it for a second month and beyond?
This weekend, we got an answer: “Apple has passed 10m subscribers for its music streaming service, taking six months to hit a milestone that took its arch-rival Spotify six years to hit,” reported the Financial Times, citing the obligatorily off-record “people familiar with the matter”.
Plaudits go to industry analyst Mark Mulligan, who predicted in October that “If Apple continues at the current rate it should get to around 10 million subscribers by year end”.
Apple is clearly now the second-biggest streaming subscription service having overtaken Deezer. But how fast is it catching Spotify? For that, we’ll have to await a new announcement from the latter company on its own growth.
If that rate continued, it’s reasonable to suggest that by the end of 2015 it could have had 90m users and 25m subscribers – although note its spokesperson’s claim last night that “the second half of 2015 was our fastest subscriber growth in history” in response to Apple’s announcement.
We’d expected Spotify to wait until it passed the 100m users milestone to make another announcement, but if that milestone is a few months away, its management team will be mulling making a 90m announcement in the meantime – even if its subscriber stats are muddied by the company’s $1-for-three-months trial just as Apple’s first stats were by the trial-cancellation question.
What remains most important, though, is what Apple Music’s growth is coming at the expense of. We know that download sales continued to fall in 2015, but the industry is still seeking hard data on whether Apple’s success is slowing down Spotify, or accelerating the overall streaming market.
The latter would be the best-case scenario: at least Apple and Spotify (and ideally more rivals too) growing the overall streaming market with paying customers, not just free users.
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