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 20 February 2023.
If you’re a streaming service and have spotted that your figures are out of date here (or if we don’t have them at all!)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: 489m users / 205m subscribers
At the end of 2022, Spotify had 489 million monthly active users, including 205 million premium subscribers and 284 million ad-supported (i..e free) listeners.
Tencent Music: 587m users / 85.3m paying users
Chinese firm Tencent Music has three different music streaming services – QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo – and at the end of 2022, it had 587 million mobile monthly active users of those services, including 85.3 million ‘paying users’. That includes people buying music, as well as subscribing.
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.
YouTube Music: 2bn music users / 80m 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 80 million of those across YouTube Music and YouTube Premium – the latter includes access to YouTube Music – in November 2022.
NetEase Cloud Music: 181.9m users / 37.6m paying users
Chinese streaming service NetEase Cloud Music recently went public, so we have up-to-date numbers for it. At the end of June 2022, it had 181.9 million monthly active users, including 37.6 million paying listeners. As with Tencent Music, this isn’t a measure of ‘subscribers’ as it includes people who just bought digital album downloads too.
Deezer: 9.4m subscribers
Deezer used to cite the figure of 16 million monthly active users, but since going public it has switched to publishing figures for its paid subscribers. At the end of September 2022 it had 9.4 million subscribers. 5.6 million of them were paying the company directly, while 3.8 million were classed as ‘B2B’ – those getting Deezer as part of other things (telco contracts for example).
Pandora: 47.6m users / 6.2m subscribers
US-only streaming service Pandora ended 2022 with 47.6 million monthly active users, according to the financial results of parent company SiriusXM. Of those, 6.2 million were ‘self-pay’ subscribers.
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.
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.
Boomplay: 69 million users
African streaming service Boomplay said that it had 69 million monthly active users in April 2022 when it announced a deal with music creation platform Splice.
Audiomack: 20m users
Audiomack may be based in North America, but this streaming service is placing a lot of emphasis on Africa for its growth. By May 2022, it had 20 million monthly active users.
Mdundo: 23.4m users
Another African streaming service, Mdundo ended 2022 with 23.4 million monthly active users according to its financial results.
And now some global stats…
In March 2022, global music industry body the IFPI published its latest Global Music Report, which revealed that at the end of 2021, there were 523 million users of paid streaming subscriptions worldwide, up from 443 million at the end of 2020. 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 June 2022.
Here’s its breakdown: remember, this is subscribers only (i.e. not free listeners on services like Spotify and YouTube):
So, those estimated figures in text form:
– Spotify: 187.8 million (although see higher up this post for a more recent, official stat)
– Apple Music: 84.7 million
– Amazon Music: 82.2 million
– Tencent Music: 82.7 million (again: see the latest official stat further up)
– YouTube Music: 55.1 million
– NetEase Cloud Music: 37.6 million (again, see higher up for official stats)
– Deezer: 9.5 million (likewise)
– Yandex Music: 13.7 million
– Others: 62.8 million
Top photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash
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Have there been any updates to these figures?
Hey Sam, pleased to say there are: have just updated the post (and aiming to be more regular from now on with the new data…)
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