For some time now, the music industry has been anticipating a big milestone for Spotify: 100 million active users.
Actually, though, the more important milestone to think about is 30 million paying subscribers – a figure that the Financial Times claims Spotify will reach by the summer.
“Spotify’s most recent subscriber numbers were released last June when it said it had 75m active users, of which 20m were paying subscribers. It added 8m paying users by the end of 2015 and is on course to hit 30m in the next three months,” reported the FT.
That hints at a slight uptick in Spotify’s free-to-premium conversion rate, from 26.7% in June to around 28% now, with the usual caveats about three-month special offers.
If Spotify has 30 million subscribers and Apple Music has 11 million – as it recently announced – that’s 41 million subscribers between these two services. Last year, the IFPI said that at the end of 2014, there were a total of 41 million music subscribers globally, across all services.
Spotify accounted for 15 million of them, so in the year-and-a-bit since, Spotify and Apple alone could have added 26 million subscribers to the market – although more likely less, since some of Apple Music’s subscribers will have churned from Spotify.
Spotify will be keen to point to its doubling of subscribers in just over a year as proof that its much-discussed free tier remains an effective funnel towards paid subscriptions, just as Apple will point to its own growth as proof that a limited free trial is the way forward.
Spotify’s 30m milestone won’t spare it from regular questions about whether its other 70 million-plus listeners will ever pay, or about the sustainability of the costs involved.
But the growth is still encouraging: roll on the IFPI’s annual Digital Music Report this spring, when we’ll find out how that overall global subscribers total increased in 2015 – and whether Spotify and Apple’s rivals are picking up the baton too.