It has been a while since YouTube announced how many premium subscribers it had: 30 million in October 2020. Now there’s an update: YouTube now has more than 50 million people paying either for YouTube Music or YouTube Premium (which includes YouTube Music) or on a trial.
Note those last four words. In October the 30 million figure did not include people on trials, as YouTube said then that its total was 35 million once they were included.
The Financial Times and Bloomberg both reported the new stat, the former based on talking to ‘two people briefed on the figures’ but the latter based on an interview with YouTube music boss Lyor Cohen – so the figure can be taken as official.
“The twin engine growth story is real. There are people who are prepared to pay with their eyeballs and those willing to subscribe. They are both super important,” said Cohen.
How is the other engine doing? The most recent financial results of YouTube’s parent company Alphabet revealed that YouTube advertising revenues grew by 84% to just over $7bn in the second quarter of this year. The combination of ads and subscriptions has seen YouTube pay out more than $4bn to the music industry in the last year.
Where does the 50m figure put YouTube in the order of global streaming services? Spotify ended June with 165 million premium subscribers, but Apple Music (60 million in June 2019) and Amazon Music (55 million in January 2020) haven’t updated their public figures recently. Tencent Music ended June with 66.2 million paying users, but that figure included digital album buyers as well as subscribers.
Still, YouTube Music has cemented its strong fifth place in the global DSP rankings. In July, consultancy firm Midia Research claimed that it was the fastest growing of them all, reaching an 8% market share by the first quarter of this year. That was based on an estimate of just under 39 million subscribers, which (with trials factored in) seems to tally with today’s official figure.