New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

Apple Music Growing at Record Pace With Two Million Subscribers Added in Just Five Weeks

Apple's services chief Eddy Cue, who spoke at the SXSW media festival in Austin, Texas this week, revealed that Apple Music now has 38 million paying subscribers worldwide. Cue also said there are over eight million customers that are currently taking advantage of Apple Music's free three-month trial period.


The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Apple Music had 36 million subscribers in a February 4 report, so it appears the streaming music service has gained around two million subscribers in just over five weeks.

The numbers suggest Apple Music is growing at a clip of roughly 400,000 subscribers per week, or 1.6 million per month. Accordingly, it would appear to be Apple Music's fastest growth rate since it launched in June 2015, at least based on the figures that Apple has publicly shared over the past three years.

Apple Music Subscribers

  • Oct 2015: 6.5 million
  • Jan 2016: 10 million
  • Feb 2016: 11 million
  • Apr 2016: 13 million
  • Jun 2016: 15 million
  • Sep 2016: 17 million
  • Dec 2016: 20 million
  • Jun 2017: 27 million
  • Sep 2017: 30 million
  • Feb 2018: 36 million
  • Mar 2018: 38 million
Spotify maintains a sizeable lead over Apple Music. The streaming music service revealed that it had 71 million paying subscribers as of the end of 2017, so it should be around twice as large as Apple Music by now. Spotify also has a free, ad-supported tier, giving it over 159 million listeners overall around the world.

Apple Music appears to be gaining ground on Spotify, however, and could reportedly eclipse its biggest rival in terms of U.S. subscribers later this year. The chart below from Apple analyst Horace Dediu is based on global subscribers.


Spotify launched in 2008, and expanded to the United States in 2011, while Apple Music debuted in over 100 countries at once in 2015. Both platforms offer individual subscriptions for $9.99 per month, student plans for $4.99 per month, and family plans sharable with up to six people for $14.99 per month.

Apple Music has the benefit of being preinstalled on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads. It's also available on Mac, PC, Android, Apple Watch, Apple TV, vehicles equipped with CarPlay, Sonos, and HomePod.

At SXSW, Cue estimated there are around two billion people that have access to and a means to pay for streaming music, suggesting the market is ripe for growth. Apple Music and Spotify have around 110 million subscribers combined, so there is clearly an opportunity for both services to continue growing.

The harder task for Spotify will be turning a profit, which it has yet to do. Apple Music executive and record industry mogul Jimmy Iovine recently said streaming music services are "not making any money" due to a lack of margins, suggesting that a standard $9.99 per month subscription is not profitable.

Apple Music's profitability is likely less of a concern for Apple, as it sells a wide range of other products and services. Apple's broad services category brought in a record $8.5 billion revenue last quarter, up 18 percent year over year.



Top Rated Comments

(View all)

10 months ago
Is this the HomePod effect?
Rating: 12 Votes
10 months ago
Spotify is in for a bad time.
Rating: 9 Votes
10 months ago
now start a movie service with apple's catalog.
Rating: 6 Votes
10 months ago
Apple Music has gotten much better at finding new music I like, just remember to love songs that you enjoy. The New Music mix actually plays mostly songs I might be interested in and I've discovered many new artists.
Rating: 5 Votes
10 months ago

Came here with the same thought. Definitely partially due to people buying HomePods and starting their free trial.


38 million PAYING members. Cue also said there are currently over 8 million ppl who are in the 3 month trial right now.
Rating: 5 Votes
10 months ago
I'm curious: how is music streaming subscriptions not profitable at $9.99/mo but Netflix is ($7.99/$10.99/$13.99 tiers)? https://www.forbes.com/sites/danafeldman/2018/01/22/netflix-has-record-breaking-fourth-quarter-in-2017-exceeds-11b-in-revenue/#70d77d4c88eb

Netflix even has the added burden of creating expensive original content.

Does the music industry truly have that many more "middle-men" that need to get paid that film/tv doesn't?

Anecdotally, I could justify having only so many $10/mo subscriptions. They add up quick. So when it came to cutting subs, it was very easy to cut the music. The utility gained over free radio (OTA and internet) is quite minimal for me personally, vs. going from a tv/film sub to free OTA tv channels plus youtube or whatever. Perhaps my moral objection to pirating content online is contributing here. More so I think I just find commercials so much more jarring when watching tv/film vs. listening to music (immersed in a story vs. background sound). Also, I have hundreds of hours of music that I own that I will happily re-listen to again and again whereas you can only re-watch a dvd so many times.

For music subscribers (AM or Spotify [or I guess another service I'm not aware of but please include the monthly cost]), let me know your top 3 reasons that you think justifies the $10/mo cost. Maybe I'm missing something here.
Rating: 4 Votes
10 months ago
EE are 'giving away' 6 months of Apple Music Subscription with a lot of their cellular plans at the moment in the UK.
Apple Music is a good service. I used it for a while there, but changed over to Amazon Music a few months ago so I could get myself out of that walled garden. It was just as well (for me) - I can't justify spending that much on an iPhone X when there are better phones on the market for less money. Now I've switched most of my iCloud services too, and can enjoy the best of all worlds; i.e. Mac OS on my desktop, iOS on my iPads, and Android on my Google Pixel, with google's ever expanding services used across the board, and Alexa in the kitchen. For me it's just a cheaper and more flexible way to get the best services at the time, without having to be locked into and waiting for iCloud, and it works really well. It's liberating not being tied into hardware like that. I don't have t get excited about the HomePod because I can build a better home assistant and speaker setup without the cost, for example.

The point is that I get to choose. Life's too short to think that Apple are the only game in town.
Rating: 4 Votes
10 months ago
You can't discount the 1st party advantage Apple has when you open Music on your iOS device and it prompts you to pay $10 right now w/ a credit card on file to access every song ever made.

BUT, like the App Store growth, I hope that Eddie isn't given bonuses JUST on growth. I us Apple Music but fully realize that Spotify has a far better social element, dynamic playlists, better curation and overall helps me discover more music than Apple...which seems to always just want to play Hip hop for me in the "For You" section. I think Spotify has the better product with the only short coming being that you can't access Spotify from AppleTV, HomePod or Siri in a native way.

Apple's growth should not be confused with being the better product. I hope Apple continues to improve despite these numbers.
Rating: 3 Votes
10 months ago

Economies of scale & varying usage habits for sure.

For every Family plant full of 6 friends, there's a person like me paying $10 a month and mostly listening to songs I already own which doesn't cost apple anything.

The money is made on users who rarely stream..it pays for the 1% who leave it on 24/7 even while sleeping.


I forgot the source, but I remember reading recently (reddit link most likely) that almost all users listen to a pretty narrow range of music on Spotify. Basically, most folks don't venture far from their dozen or so favorite playlists and bands. It might be that some user's cache of music is 500 songs, and another's is 5,000 songs, but either way, they don't venture outside of their bubble that much.
Rating: 3 Votes
10 months ago
I guess that Spotifys "free" subscription prevents them from making any profit. I don't know how much advertising you get but, i can't imagine that it generates enough turnover to cover the license fees. Apple offers just a free trial and then you have to pay. Less customers but not a sinkhole for money.

j.
Rating: 3 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]