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Apple Music passes 20 million subscribers

By | Published on Wednesday 7 December 2016

Apple Music

Apple Music now has over 20 million subscribers, it has been confirmed. This is up from seventeen million in September.

The figure remains someway behind Spotify’s 40 million paying subscribers – with that company also enjoying rapid growth of late – but reaching the 20 million milestone in eighteen months is nevertheless pretty impressive. Still, it could be argued that, with prompts to sign up to Apple’s streaming service built into every Apple device, this growth could, and possibly should, have been faster.

However, if growth has been slower than hoped, that’s down to a still relatively slow rate of adoption of streaming music in general, says Apple’s Eddy Cue. “Of course we want more and we want it to go faster – we’re hungry”, he tells Billboard. “[But] we can’t forget that, as an industry, we still have very few music subscribers. There are billions of people listening to music and we haven’t even [collectively] hit 100 million [paying] subscribers. There’s a lot of growth opportunity”.

One thing Apple has been criticised for in the last year is its reliance of album exclusives to try to motivate users to sign up. Though, despite Universal Music being down on the practice, Cue says that this strategy will continue for the time being.

“I don’t think exclusives or promotions are anything new”, he tells the BBC. “They were done in the record business, they were done on iTunes, now they’re being done on streaming. The exclusives are relatively short term – it’s not something that stays on any one platform. But being able to do unique things with artists is a good thing and I think that’ll continue”.

With news that vinyl revenues surpassed those of downloads for the first time last week – confirming that the iTunes-led download business continues to tank – Apple also released some other stats about its streaming operation, including that 60% of subscribers had not bought anything from the iTunes download store in the last twelve months. Although rather than this being evidence of streams cannibalising downloads, Cue said that many of those customers were part of a “whole new audience”, who were not previously iTunes users.