Regular exhortations for the music industry to learn lessons from the lucrative world of mobile gaming are fine.
But if you look at the top-grossing chart in Apple’s UK App Store, it’s not a game at the top of the rankings. It’s Spotify.
The music-streaming service is, at the time of writing, making more money on iOS in the UK than Clash of Clans, Game of War and Candy Crush Saga. And in other countries around the world, it’s in the top five of that chart too.
Analytics firm App Annie has some more data on that. Its 2015 Retrospective report was published yesterday, and it claimed that Spotify was the top non-gaming app in the world last year based on combined revenue from Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play store.
Meanwhile, streaming-radio app Pandora took third place in the chart. App Annie split games off into their own rankings, so a Clash of Clans comparison isn’t possible.
Even so, it’s the latest evidence that in-app subscriptions are big business for music-streaming services. Particularly as both Spotify and Pandora’s appearance in a global, cross-platform revenues chart comes despite certain restrictions.
Pandora is still only available in three countries: the US, Australia and New Zealand – with the bulk of its revenues coming from the US.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Spotify’s in-app revenues are on iOS, because on Android it’s allowed to point people to its website to subscribe rather than being forced to use Google’s in-app purchases system.
That plays in to a point we’ve made before: Spotify is making a lot of money on iOS, and Apple is taking a 30% cut of every single in-app subscription.
That applies to any subscription-based music app too: Smule’s Sing! Karaoke is the 19th top-grossing iPhone app in the UK at the time of writing, while Deezer is 21st – both making more money than popular mobile games including Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Farm Heroes Saga and Hay Day.
With 10 million subscribers, Apple Music is an increasingly-serious rival for Spotify and Deezer, but the ease of its App Store’s in-app purchases system is simultaneously an important factor in their efforts to grow their paying subscribers.
App Annie quantified that effect in its report, too: it claimed that the top 10 music-streaming apps’ combined App Store and Google Play revenue increased by 120% in 2015.
Among the report’s more general findings: Google Play did 100% more downloads than iOS’ App Store in 2015, but the latter generated 75% more revenues.
(Note, these figures do not include non-Google-Play Android app stores, from Amazon’s in the west to the many third-party stores in markets like China.)