Apple Music subscribers could hit 100 million users in 6 years

“Apple Music now has 10 million paid subscribers, according to a report from the Financial Times — a userbase that it took Spotify six years to accumulate,” Hayley Tsukayama reports for The Washington Post.

“The report indicates that the company’s move into the streaming music world seems to be paying early dividends,” Tsukayama reports. “The company had reported in October that it had nabbed 6.5 million paying customers, three months after it debuted under a three-month free trial for all users. At that time, 8.5 million users were still under the trial.”

“Apple Music had the distinct advantage of having a built-in audience, launching directly onto millions of iPhones by way of the company’s default music app. (Not to mention Mac, iPads and iPods.) Since then, Apple has also released the service for Android phones, opening up its potential customer base even more,” Tsukayama reports. “If the company is able to keep this kind of growth up, Music Business Worldwide projected that the firm could reach 100 million users in 6 years — reportedly an internal goal for Apple. That would far outstrip what any streaming music service has accomplished so far.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you love (or even just like) music, Apple Music is well worth the price – and the family plan is an absolute steal!

Apple Music nabs 10 million subscribers in 6 months, which took Spotify 6 years – January 10, 2016
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. …”Music Business Worldwide projected that the firm could reach 100 million users in 6 years”

    I’m not sure who is chipping at whose brand here, but MDN is quoting a source with this outlandish claim.

    On the other hand, it did take them less than six years to sell over 100 million iPhones, and those cost at least $650 each, so it isn’t completely out of this world.

  2. Apple claimed to have 10 million subscribers for Apple Music. That is completely and utterly meaningless. That’s because the definition of “subscriber” needs to be detailed. Is it 10 million people who have signed up to date for Apple Music? Is it 10 million people who have paid for the service? Is it active, RETAINED users? What is it? There could be hardly anyone retained, paying, and using it actively.

      1. How many active users that are paying? Is the 10 million just the cumulitive number of people who have paid for Apple Music since it started?

        And how many of those that paid don’t really use it? How many are false positives? Like people who just forget to cancel…

        1. Well, all those might be valid questions, but if we use some common sense, we can get to a reasonably accurate answer.

          At the end of September, 6.5 million paying subscribers were reported. It is now three months later. Apple makes it quite clear that you are paying for the service; in other words, it is rather difficult for the user to not even notice that the paid subscription kicked in. So, the number of 6.5 million active, paying subscribers grew over three months by 3.5 million to the total of 10 million active paying subscribers (a short trip to Google confirms this).

          As for how actively these users are really using it, the question isn’t really that relevant. Most of those initial 6.5 million paying subscribers are part of the current 10 million. That means that they have been using Apple Music for over six months now. Majority would have cancelled by now, if they aren’t really using it much.

          The whole point of the 10 million number is that Apple Music is quite competitive, and many could argue a better value for the money than Spotify. That would be the most logical and plausible explanation for such a strong growth in subscriber base. And the 10 million doesn’t include the new post-Christmas members (who will begin paying for Apple Music on 25 March).

          1. Pedrag:

            “As for how actively these users are really using it, the question isn’t really that relevant. Most of those initial 6.5 million paying subscribers are part of the current 10 million. That means that they have been using Apple Music for over six months now. Majority would have cancelled by now, if they aren’t really using it much.”

            This is where you’re making assumptions and leaps of logic without any evidence. The question of active users is absolutely relevant and material. It’s a question any tech company must ask and investigate with their products/platform.

            With Apple, since they have so many iTunes account holders, one way this is relevant is that people may have trialed it and forget to cancel at some point. In other words, people who aren’t interested in Apple Music (they don’t like it, don’t need it, use something else, etc.). These are relevant and material questions to the worth and value of Apple Music to end-users, shareholders, etc.

            10 million subscribers, at this point, means nothing. It is not a defined term. You (nor anyone else) has shown no evidence that these 10 million subscribers are currently paying, active users. We also do not know how much they’re using the service. If the usage isn’t good, that’s relevant and material.

            A lot of stuff from Apple or any other company when it comes to PR is nebulous. Apple is slightly better than the rest but it’s still all vague. Apple Music is not a success and it’s not a failure either. We don’t have enough evidence to form a conclusion. Just like we don’t have enough evidence to form a conclusion about the Apple Watch, other than observations that almost nobody wears one.

            1. Between Fortune ( and the Financial Times (, it is clear that the 10 million subscribers is referring to the currently paying people. It is a fairly clearly defined term and I can’t imagine what more could we possibly need in order to define it better.

              We don’t know if these users are using what they are paying for. What we do know is that the number of paying subscribers grew from 6.5 million at the end of September, to 10 million at the end of December. It may be possible to create a plausible scenario in which the 10 million number would collapse, with users cancelling en masse their paid accounts upon realising (after three months!) that the free trial had expired and Apple has been charging them. It is theoretically possible, but if we take into account the average profile of Apple user (an educated, astute person from the developed world), it is extremely unlikely that such a scenario could ever happen.

              I don’t know what is the intention of people who have signed up for Apple Music trial and then continued to pay for it after the trial expired. I only know that I had signed up for it with full intention of paying for it when the trial expires, because for me it was an unbeatable value. I also don’t know how often the others are using their paid service. All we know today is that some 10 million people are currently paying for the monthly Apple Music service, and that this number is 3.5 million greater than it was three months ago.

              For many, this should be enough evidence to conclude that Apple Music has a chance to eclipse Spotify. Apparently, several people seem to be claiming exactly that.

            2. Pedrag:

              First, if the number of subscribers is in fact those who are CURRENT, ACTIVE AND PAYING, then that’s fine. But the Fortune article does not define this neither does the FT article. Nobody, anywhere, says these numbers are CURRENT, ACTIVE AND PAYING SUBSCRIBERS. Even if they were, that still does not, in any fashion, address these two issues:

              1. How much are these people USING the service?
              2. How many of these people are false positives (people who just haven’t cancelled but have no use for Apple Music)?

              What you and everyone else fails to recognize is that Apple, unlike Spotify or other competing services, did not have a big company with over 100 million iTunes account holders when they launched their music platforms. Why this is relevant and material is that Apple had a jump here with a massive customer base already.

              Of those people who are using Apple Music, the relevant and material question is whether the ease of a trial and quick sign up from their iTunes account translates into any real user activity and any real sustained growth over time. Or whether a large chunk are false positives.

              I don’t know the answer. And time will tell. But as it is today, I’m not convinced due to lack of evidence. And increases in subscriber rates over a 3 month period isn’t surprising given that a free trial is 2-3 months long. Some people may just choose to subscribe but not really like it that much. We need way more details here and time.

              Personally, I was very close to just signing up because I had spent time building my Apple Music playlists, etc. But I don’t like Apple Music (bloated mess) and just bit the bullet and didn’t subscribe. But I was close to subscribing because of my sunk time. I suspect there are others like me, but ones who actually subscribe while at the same time not liking it. We don’t…

              Finally, Apple’s growth, if we are to accept 10 million up from 6.5 million 3-4 months earlier needs to be compared. Spotify went from 10 million to 20 million users year-over-year. Each quarter that’s 3.33 new user growth. Apple’s growth is effectively the same or worse. So a person simply cannot say that Apple will overtake Spotify, etc. given these realities. It’s not true, simply because these other companies are growing at effectively the same rate and they didn’t have 100 million + iTunes account holders as training wheels…

            3. I’m not going to argue the things I don’t know, and you are right, there are things that we simply don’t know. And yes, those ‘false positives’ (people who forgot to cancel) are likely affecting the 10-million figure.

              The more important point here is that if the growth from 6.5M to 10M in 3 months is genuine and if large percentage of it is organic (and it is very likely the case), then it is also quite likely that some, if not large part of it, was at the expense of Spotify (i.e. people cancelling their Spotify premium subscription in favour of Apple Music). And even if that wasn’t the case (at least not in meaningful numbers), a very likely outcome is that those who did consciously and deliberately subscribe to Apple Music won’t subsequently subscribe to Spotify. In other words, for users new to subscription music, every Apple Music sale is likely a loss to Spotify (I’m not mentioning Tidal or any other marginal players, as this is a two-player contest at this point).

              Apple’s growth may be better, same, or worse than Spotify, but as long as it is growth, it is clearly at the expense of Spotify. While ultimately this isn’t a zero-sum game (yet), and there are plenty of people who have yet to pick their music subscription service, every new genuine, organic subscription to Apple Music is virtually certainly a loss for Spotify (much as every new Spotify subscription is a loss for Apple). The main question is, how fast can Spotify grow against Apple, which has a built-in app, massive catalogue, integrated eco-system and very affordable service?

              The facts that we have are the numbers (6.5 million in October, and 10 million in December). Beyond that, we project, estimate, speculate. Past history, current market space, plus many other factors, can provide strong guidance for those projections.

              Music Business Worldwide projected 100 million subscribers in six years. I won’t be surprised if it does happen.

            4. Pedrag:

              You’re making two more assumptions in your latest post without evidence to support it:

              1. Apple’s gain is Spotify’s loss; and
              2. People who subsribe to Apple Music won’t subsequently subscribe to Spotify.

              On the first, Apple’s gain simply is not Spotify’s loss. There’s no evidence there either way. For example, some people who subscribe to Apple Music may never have been a Spotify customer. Where the only reason they subscribed was because they were an iTunes customer/account holder, Apple Music got in their face in iTunes, and they’re Apple followers. Many other examples…

              On the second, which is related to the first. There is no evidence that Apple Music subscribers won’t become Spotify subscribers down the road or that they won’t hold two concurrent subscriptions. An example which is Business 101: If Service A (Apple Music) sucks, it may drive new customers to Service B (Spotify). In other words, Apple may help create a LARGER market for Spotify where, without Apple on the scene, Spotify’s growth may take longer.

              There is no need to argue or oversimplify this. Time will tell whether Apple Music will be successful or not. Personally, and as it is today, I find it frustrating to use and not that much value over other competing services.

  3. As an Music subscriber who uses the product daily I can tell you it is much better than many would have you believe. Also it is a 1.0 product. It will only get better with time. Why anyone would pay for satellite radio or Spotify instead of Music is beyond me. My entire family (3) uses it. I wish I could place a bet on whether or not it hits 100 million in 6 years cause that would be an easy way to double my money.

  4. Six years, that’s a long time.

    So Apple would have convinced 10 or less % of the people who have bought their devices to use the music service. Hm? So, out one billion plus devices sold, maybe, if the can put the rest of the world’s music on their service they could hit 100,000,000, users. I don’t think they would hit that number even if they gave the service away. Not that the service is bad or good, it just a service that would not used.

    As people get older, they have songs that they love. Once they get their favorites, they’re done and satisfied. The service should be include with the purchase of the Apple device. The question really is how do people discover new music… Radio, word of mouth, advertising, accident? All the above and more?

    The music store should be the real money. 99 cents a song was a nice spot. Now, the next nice spot is 50 cents a song.

    1. I am 57 and with Apple Music I have listened to more new (to me) music now than ever before. I’m sure there are many in my age group that listen to Styx over and over and over, but I’m not one of them. I’m sure I am not alone.,, and Apple Music are three excellent sources to discover music. I’m sure there are many more sources out there, but those three keep me well supplied.

  5. I dislike this kind of speculation. If Apple is slightly behind this estimation, the stock market will respond by punishing AAPL.

    Why not have a headline that says: “Apple Music subscribers could hit one billion in 5 years.”? Or how about, “Apple could sell 100,000 iPhones a minute.”? Or even, “Apple could buy the NFL in the next year.”? Or Apple could open a store on the moon.”?

  6. Apple Music remains riddled with errors, or rather iCloud does.

    I just realised it’s a masterplan from Apple. For most people, AM will be the first streaming service they ever encounter. After it messes up their iTunes libraries and they finish cursing Tim Cook, they will go back to buying music (as obviously streaming is evil), which will bring Apple and music labels more money. $ucce$$! /s

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