Sometimes the statistics around how many people are streaming music – and how many are paying for it – can lead to confusion and misinterpretation.
For example, we’ve seen one story suggesting that Amazon was “on course to overtake Apple Music” based on comparing an Amazon figure from January 2020 with one from Apple that hadn’t been updated since June 2019.
Another story claimed that “Pandora has overtaken Apple for second spot” in subscriber rankings, which mistakenly compared the former’s number of active listeners (most of whom don’t pay) to the latter’s paid subscriber count.
So, we’re trying something that will hopefully be useful: a post that we’ll update whenever a major streaming service updates its public numbers.
Caveats: we’re relying on the numbers given out by the streaming services. As industry lawyer Kevin Casini pointed out on Twitter, there can be debate about (for example) how those services define ‘paid’ subscribers. In other cases, the boundaries between active and registered users can be purposefully unclear.
Even so, it feels like it would be useful to have all the public numbers in one place. So here they are, with links back to the sources for the figures. This post was last updated on 3 February 2022.
If you’re a streaming service and have spotted that your figures are out of date here (or if we don’t have them at all!) please do email me so I can update the article accordingly.
Spotify: 406m users / 180m subscribers
At the end of 2021, Spotify had 406 million monthly active users, including 180 million premium subscribers and 226 million ad-supported (i.e. free) listeners.
Apple Music: 60m subscribers (but this is an old number)
In June 2019, Apple announced that there were 60 million people paying for an Apple Music subscription. It hasn’t updated the figure publicly since then.
Amazon Music: 55m customers (another old number)
In January 2020, Amazon announced that its music streaming service now “reached more than 55 million customers globally“, with its music boss adding in a Financial Times interview that “nearly all” of those people were paying for a subscription. This includes people using Amazon’s Prime Music tier, which is part of an Amazon Prime membership. The number has not been updated since.
Tencent Music: 636m users / 71.2m paying users
Chinese firm Tencent Music has three different music streaming services – QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo – and at the end of September 2021, it had 636 million mobile monthly active users of those services, including 71.2 million ‘paying users’ – that includes people buying music, as well as subscribing.
YouTube Music: 2bn music users / 50m subscribers
In November 2020, YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen announced that more than two billion people consume music on YouTube every month. That’s the main YouTube service, rather than its YouTube Music segment specifically. As for paying subscribers, YouTube had more than 50 million of those across YouTube Music and YouTube Premium – the latter includes access to YouTube Music – in September 2021
Pandora: 52.6m users / 6.5m subscribers
US-only streaming service Pandora ended 2021 with 52.6 million monthly active users, according to the financial results of parent company SiriusXM. Of those, 6.5 million were ‘self-pay’ subscribers.
SoundCloud: 175m users
SoundCloud’s advertising site used to say that “each month, we also reach more than 175 million global users” – a figure that had remained unchanged back to 2014. The figure includes SoundCloud’s own site and apps, but also people who hear tracks embedded on other websites.
Audiomack: 17m users
Audiomack may be based in North America, but this streaming service is placing a lot of emphasis on Africa for its growth. By February 2021, it had 17 million monthly active users.
Deezer: 16m users
Deezer has 16 million monthly active users according to its press releases: a figure that has remained unchanged for a while now. In January 2019, when we interviewed then-CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht, he said that the company had ended 2018 with seven million subscribers. That included people who got a Deezer subscription bundled into their mobile contracts, but Albrecht said that 75% of Deezer’s revenues came from ‘self-pay’ subscribers, not telco bundles.
Gaana: 185m users
Indian streaming service Gaana announced in August 2020 that it had 185 million monthly active users. The company did not say how many of those people are paying subscribers: the most recent data on that front comes from a December 2019 report by LiveMint, which cited a company spokeperson as saying Gaana had “more than 1 million subscribers” at that time.
And now some global stats…
In March 2021, global music industry body the IFPI published its latest Global Music Report, which revealed that at the end of 2020 there were 443 million users of paid streaming subscriptions worldwide, up from 341 million at the end of 2019. This includes people on family plans who aren’t actually paying themselves.
Another useful source is consultancy Midia Research, which regularly updates its estimates both on the global subscriber total, and the shares of individual services. Its most recent set of numbers comes from the end of Q1 2021, including the estimation that there were 487 million subscribers globally.
Here’s its breakdown:
If we use those percentages to calculate rough subscriber numbers, we get:
– Spotify: 155.8 million (although see the top of this article for a more recent official stat)
– Apple Music: 77.9 million
– Amazon Music: 63.3 million
– Tencent: 63.3 million (again: see the latest official stat further up)
– Google (i.e. YouTube Music): 39 million
– NetEase Cloud Music: 19.5 million
– Deezer: 9.7 million
– Yandex: 9.7 million
– Pandora: 4.9 million (again: see a more recent official figure earlier in this piece)
– Others: 43.8 million
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