Amazon Music Unlimited gaining subscribers faster than Spotify and Apple

Becky Scarrott for WhatHiFi:

Amazon’s music-streaming service is reportedly gaining subscribers at a faster rate than the competition, which includes the likes of Apple Music, Google Play Music and Spotify.

The number of people subscribing to the e-commerce group’s Music Unlimited service has grown by about 70 per cent in the past year…

Amazon had more than 32m subscribers in April across all its music services including Unlimited and Prime Music. Spotify is the world’s largest streaming service, with 100m subscribers, but it is reportedly ‘only’ growing by about 25 per cent a year, according to Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Midia Research.

MacDailyNews Take: Which of Apple, Amazon or Spotify does the most work to build new talent?


  1. Apple’s biggest problem is this: They like to set it and forget it. Hardware design, services design, even software. There’s a lot of work being done, but within tight constraints (it has to keep looking like this and working like this.)

    I think it’s a side-effect of their design philosophy. Don’t release a product or service until you have worked out the design questions and have arrived at an ideal state. And when you have arrived at an ideal state… why change it?

    So MBP’s look the same today as they did 10 years ago. Mac Pro had to languish for 4 years (5?) even though it sucked ass. iTunes is still what it was, with some garbage tacked on over the years. Ping didn’t adapt, they just put it out there and it died. The hits go on.

    Apple doesn’t believe in iterating in the marketplace. They iterate in the back room and present the final product, even years later. I wonder how that will work with Services, where consumers themselves change in their tastes and expectations, and quite rapidly.

    Can Apple change Apple Music quickly enough to compete with Amazon? Can AppleTV+ adapt quickly enough to keep up with Netflix and all the new up and comers? (AppleTV hasn’t.) Can News+ keep up? (We hear publishers are upset and revenues are low; I was initially interested but was too busy to try at the time and now just don’t care enough to try it.)

    As long as Apple wants to play in the world of hardware their approach to identifying and generating the Platonic Ideal of a product will serve them well. My hands will always be this shape. My eyes will always see these colors. So such an ideal product iteration will indeed prove to be timeless.

    But I don’t think this approach will work with services. Not ever. The whole landscape is changing. There is no ideal music service. There is today’s taste and your attempt to cater to it. But tomorrow the taste will be somewhat different. And next year it will be much different. And the year after that almost completely different.

    If Apple can’t get into quicker iterating and quicker updating this foray into Services will go the way of every previous Apple foray into services. Nowhere fast.

    1. Excellent analysis. Spot on. Apple has let Apple Music languish since its launch. It is staggering that no improvements have been made. This is why I am leaving Apple Music, having been a subscriber from day 91. I am tired of it languishing with even the most basic improvements not being done.

      1. Totally disagree regarding Apple Music. Huge improvements since day 1 or paying from 91. The only service that is run like a real radio station. I don’t need to be told what to listen to, I just need to be able to find what I’m looking for. The other services are kids toys in comparison.

    2. “…set it and forget it.”

      Ain’t THAT the truth. Something I’ve noticed about Apple for years.

      Mac Pro languished for 6 years and 7 years for those who took one look at the trashcan Mac Pro and said “Nope.” Complete incompetence and amateurish leadership on Apple’s part.

    3. Good points. Apple no longer has a clue where the puck they are skating to.
      Get a committee together, study a problem, go to lunch, divide into groups, repeat for two years until they have lost the chance to catch up, meanwhile they let other technologies they USED to lead in languish.

      I tried Apple Music when it first came out and it totally screwed up my library even after I quit it two months of the three free, (I’d had enough!!). It claimed ownership of music I had purchased and EVEN MUSIC I HAD RIPPED!

      Anyhow, I have been with Tidal for a few years now and even though there is much that annoys me about them at least it integrates well with hifi equipment and both Roon and Audirvana software not to mention high quality audio using MQA. Qobuz is another choice using full 24/96 files but of the two I preferred Tidal.

  2. It makes sense that Amazon would capture this market. More people come into contact with Amazon than ever come into contact with Apple on a daily basis. Heck, I use Amazon almost daily for price research. Buy an electronic book every two weeks.

    1. I definitely prefer to own, but I do stream radio stations.
      When I buy music, it’s always from Amazon. I buy the CD and download the MP3 immediately.

      I do the opposite on movies. I buy from Apple, download, rip and store to disk.

      Either way, I refuse to be beholden to anyone over goods for which I paid.

  3. Apple is crazy not to introduce a bundled service like Prime that entitles users to the full Apple world, with product refreshes and select subscriptions. Apple is not a very smart marketing company. It makes the best products but does very little to maximize sales. Take the corporate market for example. Zero effort to sell there. Very little effort to make Apple Pay the most used product, even though it is clearly the best. And Apple TV. Yikes. Nothing.

  4. One more reason Amazon is now worth more than Apple. Amazon has more growth in so many different areas. That company stays hungry thanks to Jeff Bezos. Apple could easily create more growth by selling even slightly less expensive products, but we all know that isn’t going to happen. Amazon will happily sell lower cost products to suck in more consumers for services. Apple has done well so far, but consumers are getting wiser and they’ll go to less expensive products or services if they don’t see any major differences between an Apple product or service and some other company’s products or service.

    Wall Street is clearly favoring Amazon and calling it a sure thing for Amazon to beat out Apple in the long run. Watch Amazon’s share price rise that much faster while Apple’s share price rides a roller-coaster. Wall Street loves growth yet Apple doesn’t quite understand that. Will the Apple bulls still be boasting about Apple’s profits as Amazon’s share price doubles in a couple of years? Profits are not everything. There needs to be a healthy balance between profits and growth.

  5. Hmmmm. . . Sounds good when you compare growth rates, but a 70% growth rate over the past year to a total of 32 million means they added ~14 million subscribers with their 70% growth rate, . On the other hand, Spotify added 20 million with its 25% growth rate. Clearly Spotify is adding more subscribers.

    The smaller the starting subscriber base the easier it is to claim a high rate of growth in statistics. If you start with 10 subscribers and grow to 1000, you can claim a growth rate of 100,000%, but does it mean much when compared with competitors with 1 million subscribers already?

    1. Totally agree.. Longer term trends have to be considered to compare growth of competing services.

      Reports on Mac growth vs PC finds a similar use of percentages over unit numbers to ‘sell’ clicks.

  6. Tim Cook is letting the world pass Apple by. No real updates in Apple Music. No wireless HomePod or smaller portable HomePods. Absolutely no updates on Apple TV + except for stupid argue comments by Eddie Cue. Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer. Tim spoke about AR and really nothing. His legacy could be ruining one of the greatest companies in the world. Apple is arrogant not hungry.

  7. Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer. He doesnt have an innovative bone in his body. He has no vision. Tim Cook knows how to get parts stocked at the factories…and nothing more.

    Tim Cook has done enormous damage to Apple.

  8. Dear Armchair CEOs,

    Always fascinated by your views on Apple, (taken with pinch of salt). I too wish that Tim Cook were Steve Jobs, but he ain’t. Or, that Apple would release products quicker and cheaper, but they can’t. Because it’s important to note that Apple is arguably a relatively small company competing on many fronts against a number of the most savvy corporations around. The company produces IT hardware, software and services in a furiously competitive space, and every quarter they announce new products that raise the bar or even seriously disrupt existing industries. In PC hardware and software they compete and hold their own against Microsoft, Dell, HP, Lenovo etc. In education and the enterprise they battle Microsoft, Google etc.; in professional PC software they compete against Adobe and others. In music players they thrash Sony etc.. In music delivery they are up against Spotify, Google, Amazon etc.; in TV entertainment they plan to compete against Netlix, Amazon, Google, and the broadcasters; in smartphones they best Samsung, Sony, etc. after sinking Blackberry, Ericsson, and Finland; in mobile apps they are the happy default over countless competitors who cannot make inroads; in tablets Samsung, Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell, HP struggle to get close, Google has given up; in watches Samsung doesn’t figure, Fitbit lost it’s crown and Switzerland is taking a hit. And it goes on… I fear for Ford and others if Apple does, indeed, finally release their car.

    Living in the developing world for the past 19 years, I have watched the rise of the Apple and its symbol attached to iPods and then iPhones and now ever increasing numbers glowing on the back of laptops wherever I go. Walking past rows of students at work in the university library causes wonder, not just at the marked increase in Apple computers, but that anyone can even make out what is being displayed on those crappy Windows laptop screens.

    Enjoy the ride, Alex

    1. You sir, are an abject moron, full of brazen stupidity.

      ” Because it’s important to note that Apple is arguably a relatively small company ”

      Small company?

      Does a small company spend FIVE BILLION dollars on a building?

      Does a small company have 132,000 people?

      My god you are so full of yourself.

      It is my distinct pleasure to one star your feckless comment. It’s amazing you dont hang yourself trying tie your shoes.

      1. My goodness. What vitriol. I guess you’re not an armchair-CEO after all! Perhaps an armchair-middle-manager-who’s-been-overlooked-for-promotion-more-than-once?

        Apple is a large company in absolute terms. But I wrote “relatively small” deliberately. Apple has 130,000 employees who generated $57.17 billion net income in the financial year ending March 2019. That is bottom-line profit NOT revenue. Those are mind-boggling numbers. Apple generates more profit by far than any other company, at $1,444 per second (numbers from 2016); J.P. Morgan Chase was second with half that figure, $782; third was Berkshire Hathway, $761 per second.

        Combine the profits of Apple’s two largest competitors: Amazon (with 647,000 employees) $10.1 billion profit; Samsung (320,000) 49.9B—thanks to Apple buying their chips; i.e. almost 1 million people give roughly the same profit (give-or-take a billion 🙂 as Apple does. I’m not merely talking of “revenue per person,” where Apple is indeed no.1. I’m trying to describe Apple’s competitive environment.

        Only Alphabet (98,000 employees) 27.99B, and Microsoft (130,000) 34.92B are comparable to Apple. Other ballpark-similar sized companies don’t come close: Huawei (180,000) $8.8B; Sony (117,000) $8.47B. These “large” companies lose money: Dell (140,000) -2.31B; Nokia (103,000) $-0.40B and Ericsson 95,000) -$0.67B!

        “Smaller” companies that Apple is up against: HP (55,000) $5.32B; Lenovo (54,000) $-0.13B; Adobe (20,000) $3.62B; Swatch (35,000) $0.60B; Blackberry (had 20,000 at its peak) $93 million, and tiny Netflix (5,400 employees) $1.21B does well.

        Apple is not alone in battling all these. They all compete with each other like in a game or Risk. However, Apple IS uniquely profitable, and it is competing (successfully) on so many fronts against a number of likewise very successful, very competitive organisations.

        [Disclaimer: The latest figures I could find, interpreted to the best of my ability.]

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