Google hasn’t revealed how many paying subscribers its YouTube Music subscription service has, and it’s been a long time since we saw any numbers for its existing Google Play Music. Now Bloomberg has tried to plug that gap with a report mooting a number for the combined figure of both services.
“Google’s paid music services have eclipsed 15 million subscribers, according to two people familiar with the numbers,” claimed its report, although the number includes people on promotional free trials. The article put a positive spin on the figure, suggesting that it was “a milestone for a company that has struggled to build subscription media businesses”.
Not everyone agrees with that. The Wall Street Journal ran its own report yesterday painting a different picture. “Google’s subscription music services are struggling to grow, almost a year into a revamp of its flagship YouTube Music, according to people with knowledge of its user numbers,” it claimed, adding that “subscriptions across Google’s paid music offerings have been essentially flat over the four most recent months of available data”.
There’s some murk here, because a YouTube spokesperson told Bloomberg that paid subscribers to YouTube Music and YouTube Premium grew by 60% between March 2018 and March 2019. Eagle-eyed readers will already have spotted that a.) this is just YouTube and not Google Play Music; b.) it includes the YouTube Premium tier; and c.) that it’s a figure for growth in the last 12 months, not the last four.
In any case, 15 million is the figure we have to play with, at least until Google provides an official stat. Roll out the obligatory comparisons with Spotify (100 million subscribers at the end of March), Apple Music (50 million at the end of January) and Amazon Music (‘tens of millions’ is the nearest we’ve got to an official stat, although eMarketer recently suggested the service had 30.4 million listeners in the US alone by the end of 2018). Deezer, meanwhile, ended 2018 with seven million subscribers according to our recent interview with its CEO.
Update: Google’s spokesperson has provided this statement to Music Ally: “YouTube Music & Premium paid subscribers grew 60% y/y from March 2018 to March 2019. YouTube aggressively disputes the WSJ report stating YouTube Music subscription growth has plateaued, countering that healthy subscription growth continued through Q1 of this year.”