Apple Music Is Now a Bigger App Than Spotify, Nielsen Finds

Apple Music Smartphone Ranking


Apple Music is now the ninth largest smartphone app in America, according to a ranking just released by Nielsen.  That lags significantly behind YouTube and Google Play, but solidly beats Spotify, which didn’t even make the top 10.  According to the finding, Apple Music had an ‘average unique audience’ of 54.55 million after just four months on the market.

Given the tight timeframe, those users could easily be called ‘active,’ though a substantial percentage of iOS users auto-downloaded the app.  Indeed, some iPhone users may be unaware that they have Apple Music on their decks, much less be ‘actively’ using the service.

Apple Music Smartphone Ranking

None of those considerations apply for Android users, who must intentionally download Apple Music to get started.  Importantly, this ranking would not include those users given Apple Music’s expansion onto Android in November.

Also missing from illustrious top-10 is Pandora, whose app-heavy platform boasts 80 million active listeners.  But Apple Music offers substantially similar functionality to Pandora, with a better interface and less obnoxious commercial breaks.  That, alongside the heavily-hyped Beats 1, could be slowing Pandora’s once meteoric listener growth.

The report solidly plants Apple in Spotify’s rearview mirror, and sets the stage for a serious horserace in 2016.  Most recently, Spotify announced a milestone of 20 million paying subscribers, with 75 million active users overall (55 million free users).  Overall, Spotify projects a userbase of 100 million by January, with more than 25 million paying.


Sounds big, but Apple could become bigger.  After just a few months on the market, Apple quickly crossed 6.5 million paying subscribers, with everyone paying at least $9.99 (or more).  Whisper numbers now suggest that Apple Music will have more than 8 million by year-end, and possibly, 10 million on the higher-end.

11 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Wrong path taken by the biggest digital players at the request of suicidal UMG.
    The path leading to $20B music streaming DWARF LAND!
    Mr. Cue,
    The Beatles for Christmas is not a game changer – YOU’e KILLING $200B of music goodwill as we speak.

  2. Jess Munson

    Meanwhile Apple, one of the most profitable companies on the planet, will continue to pay artists $0.00 for the use of their music.

    • Yo

      I think you mean Youtube and Google, or Spotify ( on their free tier) . Apple is one of the few companies to actually pay artists fairly.

      • Remi Swierczek

        There will be NO FAIR PLAY to anybody until we convert Radio (120,000 global Radio stations operating as a simple music retail stores with some of them enjoying over million pairs of ears few times a day) and streaming to primitive $100B music store.

        Then we can add just McDonald, Starbucks, Chipotle and Subway to have additional 100K music stores – $200B music industry by 2025 is obvious, does not require any business plan!
        Easy task for Google Inc.
        Little bit effort and coordination required if Goole doesn’t like it or want it.
        It would triple Google but I am suspecting that Goole folks just hate music or are intoxicated with conversion of dollars of someones music goodwill to cents in advertising!
        As long as music is free those cents count as revenue!

  3. Tim F.

    You seem utterly befuddled by the fact that Apple Music can be used just as it has for a very long time: as iTunes. Nearly all people with iPhones or iPads know they can play their own music on an iOS device and many do, they’ve been doing it for nearly a decade and much longer if you consider iOS devices descendants of the iPod.

    Despite the idiotic fear mongering that every iOS user will instantly download and start using Apple Music streaming for free for 3 months denying all musicians revenue for that time, I use Apple Music all the time but haven’t yet used the trial or become a subscriber.

    Likewise, Google Play isn’t just a music player/service. It’s a tv, movie, book, and app store too.

    • Sue

      You seem utterly befuddled by the fact that Apple iTunes has not paid musicians for plays for years, long before Apple Music. $0.00 is not a payment, sorry. This has nothing to do with the initial first 3 months (which was reversed because of Taylor Swift’s protest). Google does the same thing. $0.00 as a payment. It’s wrong and it needs to stop.

      • Anonymous

        I’m confused. Why would Apple pay for plays years before Apple Music was launched? That makes no sense.

      • Tim F.

        I have no idea what you are talking about. You’re made-up nonsense that’s completely unsupported and delusional to motivate your silly conspiracy theory without weighing the issues intelligently has to stop. Or I can just ignore it. Either way.

  4. Anonymous

    What a pointless study. Let’s see what the most popular apps are and then include apps that were preinstalled or force-installed through updates. That’s just brilliantly worthless.

  5. Yo

    “Most recently, Spotify announced a milestone of 20 million paying subscribers”
    Those numbers are very much inflated, sonice a big portion are coming from their “pay only one dollar for the first 3 months” campaign. The real amount of paying subscribers ( at 10$ a month) is much lower than that, and probably even lower than Apple music subscribers.

  6. R.P.

    The Nielsen numbers have always been full of shit. They have no idea and their system is beyond flawed. These are the same people that swore terrestrial radio wasn’t losing listenership, which we now know was a complete lie.


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