Apple Music nabs 10 million subscribers in 6 months, which took Spotify 6 years

“Apple has passed 10m subscribers for its music streaming service, taking six months to hit a milestone that took its arch-rival Spotify six years to hit, say people familiar with the matter,” Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw report for The Financial Times.

“‘It’s good news that Apple is making streaming work but it is also going to accelerate the decline of downloads,’ said Mark Mulligan, music industry analyst with Midia Research,” Garrahan and Bradshaw report. “Apple was rapidly gaining on Spotify and at its current growth rate had “the potential to be the leading music subscription service sometime in 2017.”

“The rapid growth of Apple Music, which launched in more than 100 countries in June, raises the stakes in streaming, a form of distribution that offers hope to the music industry after more than a decade in the doldrums,” Garrahan and Bradshaw report. “Spotify, which has a valuation of more than $8bn, has laid the groundwork for an initial public offering. By the time it hit 10m subscribers in 2014, the service had 40m active users in 56 markets.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Daniel Ek: Oh ok.

Uh-oh, Spotify: People are paying up for Apple Music – November 5, 2015
Why Apple Music will win in streaming music – October 27, 2015
Apple Music takes a huge bite out of Pandora – October 23, 2015
Taylor Swift calls Spotify a ‘start-up with no cash flow’ – August 4, 2015
Oh ok, Spotify listeners are upgrading to Apple Music – July 19, 2015
Apple Music could kill more than just Spotify, it could kill music labels, too – June 25, 2015
Why Apple Music will gut and publicly execute Spotify – June 10, 2015
Spotify CEO claims to be ‘ok’ with Apple Music – June 9, 2015
Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue: Apple Music gunning for Spotify, YouTube, and terrestrial radio – June 9, 2015
Apple Music’s huge advantage over Spotify – June 9, 2015
Apple’s revolutionary Apple Music just might prove its skeptics wrong – June 8, 2015
Apple unveils revolutionary Apple Music service – June 8, 2015


  1. Hmm. Apple has sold how many iPhones, iPad, Macs, iPods? No, this number seems really small and it’s growth seems really slow. It feels like a service that should come with the devices. Much like a three warranty should be include with all of apple’s hardware.

    1. I think the number is driven by people who haven’t yet realized that music rental isn’t music discovery, it’s another walled garden that constricts your discovery process. There’s a reason that all kids within a clique all listen to the same handful of current “artists” — because that’s what the industry markets to them. They’ll never know about music from other countries, or music made before they were born, because the computer algorithms that Apple Music pushes will never be able to suggest the crazy eclectic full-on deluge of music that one could expose themselves to if they listened to their local independent radio stations, or any of a thousand excellent free podcasts, or the millions of independent Youtubers who post their stuff online. Sorry, but rental music by definition tries NOT to surprise you with something new an different because if they did, you would cancel the subscription.

      It should also be noted that while Apple Music has 10 million subscribers, vastly more than 10 million people bought David Bowie albums today because they discovered that their music collections barely scratched the surface of his enormous body of work and the same few tracks that commercial radio stations play are embarrassingly incomplete. I look forward to tuning into next week’s Sound Opinions podcast to hear what is always an informative and revealing look at an artist and some deep cuts that the true music lover deserves to discover.

      If your life is too busy to own your own music collection, and the time for you to actually choose & listen to a whole uninterrupted album once in a while. I can only say I feel very sorry for you. Human disc jockeys can help you discover new music, and computerized DJs can push you the same top 40 junk that everyone else is listening to this month, but YOU are the single best critic to choose and manage the soundtrack of your life.

  2. Just a heads up on the “subscribers”.. I wonder how many of them are the 3 month trial people with no intention of sticking around.

    Was just in this conversation over Christmas, 8 people I know signed up for the trial JUST so they could watch the Taylor Swift exclusive thing. with zero intent of staying…

    For those of you that don’t sub to FT that MDN links…
    Pretty much the same article, and it does mention the taylor swift aspect.

    Not saying Apple Music is a flop or bad folks.. Just keep in mind that when those that joined just for Taylor Swift, many will not be subscribing.

    1. Yes the same mantra that has been trotted out for the last 4 to 5 months telling us that it would all come a cropper the moment that first 3 mth date was reached. It seems that pronouncements of its imminent death has been grossly exaggerated. At least its changed from ‘proven failure’ to ‘may not be a flop’ so I suppose there has been some change of tack. But as every Apple product has been issued a kiss of death from the critics since when the iMac launched (and indeed well before) I guess I simply give them a wry smile these days for even with a 100% share there are some who will say any Apple product is a failure for some contrived reason or other.

      1. Just saying that at the end of those 3 month trials not everyone will stay subscribed.

        If Apple music goes from 10 million subs to 9.9million subs after the trial period.. there WILL be doom and gloom reports about Apple Music.

        1. My understanding is that the number is ten million subscribers; not ten million free trials. In other words, 10m in addition to those who are on the free three-month trial.

          After the initial free three months ended (at the end of August) the number of subscribers was somewhat meagre (8M, I believe), and many had argued that many were unintentional (free trial expires and subscription automatically starts). The argument was, that initial number will likely go down when people who unintentionally subscribed realise that their three months are up and they’re now being charged.

          Apparently this didn’t happen. If I’m remembering correctly, this means that the Apple Music service gained the net 2 million new subscribers since the initial three months expired (three months ago).

          As the article states, if the average growth rate (2m users per quarter) continues, it will surpass Spotify in a few short quarters, becoming the most popular music subscription service. In a little over one year of its existence. This being Apple, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

          1. Does the article separate the two?

            It’s behind the FT paywall so..

            And the 3 month trial is still offered. The Taylor swift thing was recent, and I still get the trial offer from Apple. 1 of those 8 I mentioned (my niece) signed up for the free trial on Christmas Day.. And watched the movie upstairs with 4-5 of the other girls and canceled after watching. That’s how the whole conversation about Apple Music started on Christmas, and this article reminded of the discussion.

            Again I’m not putting the service down, just wondering if they are counting the 10m as subs AND the trials together.

            I get the desire to have all your stuff “Apple” and understand the service would appeal to a lot of users.

            I got the entire series of Breaking Bad on blu-ray for Christmas. It comes with a digital copy for Vudu.. I contacted Vudu and asked for an iTunes code instead, they used to do that on some titles.
            They said no..

            I won’t use the code, I’ll rip the series myself and import to iTunes.

            1. If I remember well, the initial numbers of free trials (at the end of September) was over 16 million, with some 6.5 million paid at end of October. The current total number is likely much higher, so the number from the article (10 million) is clearly the paid subscribers.

  3. I signed up “just for the trial” and then I missed it so much when it was over that I subscribed for real. That’s the whole point. People you know might have subscribed “just” for the Taylor Swift thing but after 3 months many of them are going to miss it when it’s gone and they’ll pay up to have it continue.

      1. Yes not sure 8 people are a truly representative reflection of its success or otherwise especially when the discussion is amongst a group of friends where a consensus is more often than not the conclusion of any discussion, even if it is more a reflection of the lowest common denominator between them.

        1. 5 of those 8 were using parents accounts, all 5 of those already canceled after watching the movie. I know that at least those 5 had zero intent (due to parents account)

  4. Dear Daniel Ek

    Please, I beg of you, tell me about your precious business model. I know that Apple’s foray into the Music Streaming service is good for a few laughs, and we all think it’s adorable that Dr. Dre is now an Apple Employee, but seriously, what in the holy hell is your plan to actually turn a profit with this thing?

    Sane People of Earth Capable of Basic Arithmetics

  5. Any music any time. Works for me.

    In fact I thought i would have turned it off by now. But six of us…for 15 bucks is too good.

    I remember in my younger years, used to browse around HMV looking at all the music I couldn’t afford…..wondering how it might sound on my “quite expensive equipment”. Problem was always always whether to spend money on listening equipment or money on music. Now, ALL the music is relatively free ($3 per month). Never been so good.

    1. And the follow-up answer is also, ‘no.’ I have had an Apple ID for a long time, since the early days, and I have not (yet) subscribed to Apple Music. I received a few emails advertising the new service, but there have been no attempts to “force” me to subscribe. That is not the Apple way.

  6. Isn’t renting music the same as renting software? I’d rather pay for the music once that having to keep paying over and over for something. Just like I’d rather buy software once.

    Similarly, I’d rather own my own home than pay someone else for the privilege of having a roof over my head. IMHO it’s all about making a choice rather than saying one model is superior than another.

    1. Agreed. And, in the past, everyone involved seemed to like people to buy their music. They bought it on vinyl albums and singles, they bought it on cassette, they bought it on CD, they bought remastered products on CD… People often bought the same set of favorite songs several times in their lifetimes.

      Then, along comes the internet and computers as media hubs and, pretty soon, all of these people are accumulating massive libraries of songs that (if backed up properly) will last forever. No need to make repeat purchases from the decades of music IP controlled by the labels, and no need to buy bundles of songs when you only want one or two of them. Music industry profits began declining and panic ensued. So, you can bet that the music labels love the idea of paid streaming subscriptions, the revenue stream that keeps on giving for new and old music alike.

      I do not know if it works out to the advantage of the artists or not. But I would suspect that it does, particularly for artists living off of the legacy of their past hits.

      1. I had always been a defender of the argument that you rent movies and own music. The argument always made sense; we watch movies once, and even the most favourite ones, we only watch a few times. Owning them makes little sense (other than Disney stuff for the children, which gets watched many times). Meanwhile, we listen to music every day, practically all day, and we love to repeatedly listen to our favourite tracks. To watch a movie, you need to cave out time and sit down in front of a screen. Music you can listen to anywhere and at all times, while doing other things. It made sense that owning music that we’ll listen to for years is better than perpetually renting.

        However, with the monthly rental fee of $10 per person, and more attractively, $15 for six people, the math is slowly changing.

        I currently have a collection of some 400 CDs. Most of it is classical, a lot is jazz, and there is some other stuff. That collection won’t go anywhere; it stays with me and will remain accessible and playable as long as I have a working CD player I can use to rip the discs into whatever digital device exists at any point in the future. However, Apple Music now gives me virtually ALL of those discs instantly available to stream/download, plus ALL the rest of the music ever produced (or so it seems). I started the trial a few weeks ago (with a full intent of subscribing when it expires) and I can’t imagine going back to buying every CD I’d like to listen to. The ability to access the largest recorded music catalogue in the world is simply mind boggling.

        In a few weeks, I’ll be conducting Mozart’s “Requiem” with a local community orchestra, chorus and soloists. Being able to listen to a dozen different recordings of the work gives me an enormous resource in preparing for the concert.

        Bottom line — even though the old logic still makes sense, music subscription has some quite powerful arguments on its side too.

    2. When I was young, I was buying vinyl records. I had built a collection of some 50 – 60 records of my (then) favourite music. Some two decades later, CD became the dominant sound carrier (for well known reasons). Since then, I had been collecting CDs (and have some 400 today). What happened to my vinyl? It is still sitting there, in the basement of my old apartment building, in the old country (I had since moved to another continent). However, I have largely duplicated that collection in CD.

      The technology of sound carriers marches on, and there is a common joke about it: “I’m buying the White Album for the 5th time!” (and those five times being: vinyl, 8-track, audio cassette, CD, AAC). While it may be a joke, there are certainly people who have the same albums on two (or even more) different physical mediums (media? which is the correct plural?).

      An average adult seems to have seen at least two major dominant sound carriers in his lifespan. In other words, the music collection created over decades of one’s life will eventually become obsolete, and that will likely happen well before person’s life ends, necessitating a re-building of the same collection in the new medium. Vinyl to CD migration is the story of the current generation of people 50+ years old.

      Apple Music costs $180 per year for the whole family. A collection of 400 CDs is worth approximately 40 years of Apple Music subscription. It is quite realistic to say that 4 decades is the average lifespan of a sound carrier, before some new technology supplants it.

      For anyone whose music collection is smaller than some 300 CDs, buying makes sense (if that is indeed all the music one wants). For those who dream of having larger collections, renting makes better sense. Instead of building that large collection over the next 30 years, you can sign up for Apple Music and have it all today, without having to wait.

      Unles you are an audiophile who needs pristine, uncompressed audio quality, in which case you have no choice but CD…

      1. If you are an audiophile, the redbook CD audio quality (and “lossless” derivations thereof) is the lowest quality you will go — even then a great system can reveal the limitations of the media.

        DVD-A, SACD, and internet distribution like Qobuz or Tidal or Society of Sound, or Linn, or …. many more offer superior quality that Apple, Spotify, Pandora, et al refuse to match (even though Apple went to all the effort to create Apple Lossless encoding, which is a super format for premium music distribution and archival).

        It is painful to see Apple, while spending decades offering the premium quality products, now totally whiff on technical specification and instead start selling luxury flash instead of superior performance. Apple Music isn’t a better value than hundreds of CDs. Those CDs ripped to a music server will give you superior sound and superior music management tools will give you a better interface than iTunes ever thought of. Hell, even a Sonos Connect is easier to manage than Apple’s kludged iOS music interface.

        I honestly believe that the Apple leadership team doesn’t have a single audiophile amongst them, so the dumbing-down of Apple’s software and services continues unchecked.

        Because a real audio system, playing anything but the most distorted computer-manipulated music, will reveal how bad consumer audio — including anything Apple sells today — really is.

        1. There was a time, in the late 70s and early 80s, when I was obsessed with audio quality and was dreaming, one day, when I had a well-paying job, I would be able to take out a loan and build a pristine audio chain, complete with a listening room.

          That time has long gone. Even if I had such gear and space, I would never get a chance to use it to listen to music. I go to live concerts about once or twice a month (NY Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall). I watch some TV in the evenings, but I only get to listen to music while I’m no the move, on my iPhone.

          I love music. For a great number of years, I did it professionally, full-time, as a conductor, arranger and session musician. I had spent countless hours in recording studio, and have a trained ear for music. And I, as well as most of my musician colleagues, are quite happy with Apple Music and its compressed audio quality.

          In our lives, we frequently make all sorts of compromises. We simply don’t have the resources, the time, the circumstances, or the desire to pursue the ultimate, uncompromising option, so we accept bargains that represent best balance.

          For me, and apparently most of the world, AAC represents an excellent balance. It allows us to put hours worth of music on our 16GB phones, still leaving some space for apps, while providing sonic fidelity that is better than some other components in the audio chain, especially taking into account the listening environment (noisy surroundings of everyday life).

          I don’t own a single SACD or DVD-A disc. I know they exist, but I have never seen them in the wild, nor did I ever buy one. In order to hear the difference between that and the audio CD, I would need to invest close to $10k in my home audio chain (plus acoustic treatment of my living room). With hundreds of musicians friends in my circle, I can think of only one person who has done that (and we all consider him an audio fanatic, for whom that is his passion).

          There is no real reason for anyone to put Apple Lossless files on their iPhone, just to listen to that music on the subway, in the street, in the office, in the car. Even if you compress it down to 96kbps (stereo), you’d still be hard-pressed to hear the difference on Apple’s EarPods on a busy street. And you could put eight times more music compressed like that on your phone.

          As I said, we live our lives accepting various compromises, and Apple’s choice for AAC (256kbps) is a very good one.

  7. “… taking six months to hit a milestone that took its arch-rival Spotify six years to hit …”

    Arch-rival? Really? Microsoft used to be Apple’s “arch-rival”, and now Google has taken that position. But Spotify is just another company that had a successful business that Apple decided to horn-in on. It has never been any kind of threat to Apple.

  8. Apple has an estimated 800 million + iTunes accounts and getting 10 million suckers to rent their Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or other throwaway bullshit they stream tells us a couple of things:
    1- most of us do not want to rent our music. Music worth listening to is worth paying for.
    2- Apple Music- hatched from a stupid pissing away of 3 Billion for a marketer of shitty headphones and a me too copy of Zune Music rental- is an unmitigated flop. F L O P!.
    3- Maybe the music industry could try to promote musicians instead of rappers. Countless tens of millions with disposable income have no desire to hear some self-described “artist” jump around on stage grabbing their junk, waiving their arms while shouting misogyny over a monotonous drum track
    4- The one size fits all radio station is a flop. Apple could have more easily bought or allied with Sirius XM and had a much better product.

  9. This is slightly off topic but this gives you an idea of how the industry operates. At the end of a ten year stint in the music industry I ended up a negotiator and advocate in the Musicians Union of Australia.

    One of our members (who usually played live) had a cancellation so he had a free spot for work. One of his colleagues said there was some session work available so he thought why not.

    He did the work and after 21 days he still wasn’t paid so being responsible for that part of the industry the case was lobbed into my court. He also said that as he was a live musician he expected to get paid no matter what. I was told to go for it. (I loved cases like that except they were pretty rare.)

    Now this is where it got interesting. I got onto Sony Music, explained that the musician had to be paid within 21 days as this was the minimum conditions of the industry wide contract. To cut a long story short I was told that the recording industry was “different” and that they paid within six weeks and that if I pushed the issue he’d never get session work again. That was attempted blackmail and I told them that if they didn’t pay up I’d have the matter notified in the industrial relations commission. Then they paid up.

    The moral of the story is that the industry screws most musicians and performers. What’s left over after everyone gets their cut just covers expenses.

    The ones that have been very successful do absolutely fine. Everyone else gets screwed.

    As for streaming, there still isn’t much left over for the muso.

    The successful model is from touring, selling and signing t-shirts, cds and selling direct to the public via the net where you bypass the bloodsucking industry. Now where does that fit into streaming? Hmmm.

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