Research firm MusicWatch has published its latest estimates on the US music-streaming market, claiming that there are now 51 million subscribers in the country. That would be a decent increase from the 35.3 million reported by the RIAA in its end-of-year statistics for 2017 – although that was an annual average over the year, rather than a year-end figure. However, MusicWatch has stressed that not all of these people are paying for their subscriptions: in fact, the company estimates that around 20 million are sharing someone else’s paid account (e.g. through a family plan). That’s some useful context for recent rumours that labels were feeling restless about the popularity of such plans in the US.
According to Billboard, which got first dibs on the study, MusicWatch says there are an additional 29 million people on free trials of music-streaming services, or are passive subscribers to bundled services like Amazon Prime Music. “In total, 157 million people in the country still stream music for free without trials, on platforms like YouTube or Spotify’s free tier,” it reported, while noting that some of these people are also paid subscribers to other services.
MusicWatch’s report also claims that Spotify and Apple Music account for 80% of paying music subscribers in the US – more than 20 million apiece – with Pandora having another six million and then five million split between the rest.