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Nearly half of US music subscribers may have Amazon Prime Music


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Amazon Prime Music truly is the dark horse of the streaming market, according to a report published today by research firm Parks Associates.

“Nearly one-half of streaming music subscribers, the equivalent of 15% of all broadband households, indicate they have a subscription to Amazon Prime Music,” said the company’s senior analyst Glenn Hower.

The logical response to this is to wonder how many of those people actually use Prime Music, given that they may have a Prime membership for other reasons. Yet Parks Associates has addressed this issue.

“The number of households with access to Amazon’s music services through a Prime subscription is higher, as 28% of broadband households indicate they subscribe to Amazon Prime Video,” said Hower.

“So the number of streaming music subscribers likely reflects actual usage of the streaming music portion of Amazon’s service.”

Given estimates of 102.5m broadband households in the US at the end of 2015, that could mean upwards of 15 million households using Amazon Prime Music, although this is a decidedly rough calculation.

Industry body the RIAA has yet to publish its end-of-year report for 2016, but last September it published its mid-year analysis, reporting that in the first half of 2016, the US averaged 18.3m paid music subscriptions. Applying Parks Associates’ figures to that hints at around nine million Prime Music users. Again: rough.

Other relevant stats from recent reports: first, music research firm MusicWatch claimed earlier this month that more than 14 million Americans are using one of Amazon’s Echo devices, and that 13% of those had tried Amazon’s Music Unlimited streaming service – note, not Prime Music.

Second, tech news site Recode has just claimed that Amazon has at least 66 million paying Prime members in the US, up from 46 million at the end of 2015. That’s in the same ballpark as an estimate from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners in October 2016 (it said 65 million), although Cowen & Co estimated it as 49.5 million in November.

Amazon itself has been characteristically careful with its numbers, although it recently said that in 2016 “Prime members engaged with the Prime digital benefits at a voracious rate, more than doubling the number of video, music, and reading activities compared to 2015”.

(Amazon’s PR agency is sending the Parks Associates press release to journalists though, which suggests the company backs its findings.)

Back to that research though: if Amazon Prime Music is used by 15% of US broadband households, how are rivals doing?

The company claims Spotify grew from 4% at the end of 2015 to 7% at the end of 2016, while Sirius XM, Apple Music and “YouTube Music” (YouTube Red, we think) “all experienced modest adoption increases” and Pandora and Google Play “did not change substantially”. The actual figures for those services are in the paywalled report.

“One-third of U.S. broadband households now subscribe to a paid streaming music service, up from 26% in 2015,” said Hower. Parks also claims that 58% of US broadband households stream music or audio outside the home; and that they average 3.6 hours of this content a week on computers, and 2.7 hours on smartphones.

Stuart Dredge

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