How Many Subscribers Will Apple Music Have? Roughly 3.5 Million, Sources Say

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“I’d ballpark, roughly 3.5 million after November cancellations.”

Apple’s Spotify competitor Apple Music is performing way below initial projections, according to a pair of sources close to the numbers.  At present, the first batch of trial users are being confronted with a three-month payment wall, with at least half of those appearing to have already opted-out.  “It’s not the easiest to say what the [initial paid subscriber] number is going to be, keep in mind this is day one of the payment requirement,” one source supplying content to Apple Music told Digital Music News on Thursday.  “But this is looking like Apple [Music] will have low millions of paying subs,” while agreeing that “between 3 and 4 million sounds about right.”

A second source close to the data noted that many users will cancel their subscriptions in October after realizing they’ve been charged, creating an initial, one-month ‘blip’.  “I’d ballpark, roughly 3.5 million after November cancellations.”

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Initially, Apple executives confidently projected more than 100 million paying subscribers, without identifying how long that would take.   “While Apple wouldn’t comment last week, a person familiar with its plans said Apple has an ambitious goal to sign up 100 million subscribers for a new streaming service that will cost $10 a month and compete with other on-demand services such as Spotify and Rhapsody,” the New York Times reported around Apple’s unveiling in June.


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(Survey results of active Apple Music trial participants conducted by MusicWatch over the summer).

Several months later, statements from top Apple executives suggests a far lower tally.  “Ultimately, you never know until it happens.  But we’re pleased with the number of people who have tried,” Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services (and iTunes Store chief) Eddy Cue told the Evening Standard. “Everybody gets fixated on the short term but we’re in this for the long haul.”

 “It’s going to be a road.”

Others are similarly subdued, affirming the lower paid figures.  “It’s going to be a road,” noted Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine and current Apple Music architect.  “But if you make the service great enough, people will pay for that.”

The question is whether this was a ‘great’ Apple effort.  Critics have assailed the service for being complicated and difficult for users to navigate, with streaming and paid downloads now overlapping in the same iTunes interface.  That may ultimately be driving lower conversions, despite heavy iPhone 6 uptake: according to a recent New York Post article, 15 million have trialled the service, though roughly half have pro-actively declined automatic credit card charges after the three month window.


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Meanwhile, Spotify is racing ahead: the company is now projecting nearly 100 million users by year end, or close to it, with paid subscribers easily past 20 million.  Even TIDAL is getting on the map: according to a tweet issued Tuesday by Jay Z, TIDAL now has 1 million paying subs.


15 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Hold on. There is possibility of $100M Chinese at $1.5 a month before the end of this year!
    It will triple global streaming revenue and will put music industry on track to $20B Eldorado by 2025.

    Thank you Mr. Grange and UMG boys for giving music to Daniel Ek and his followers.
    Shrinking $200B of music goodwill to $25B dollars of subs and ads is unprecedented accomplishment!
    Please ask RIAA to establish awards for best music eliminators!

    • Anonymous

      Are you seriously suggesting we make the RIAA actually do something for once?

  2. Anonymous

    Tidal is such a joke. WIMP had 512,000 subscribers when he bought it. After all this time and money he managed to get only another 500k? Ouch. All that star power isn’t really much power at all is it?

  3. Die Apple Music! Long live iTunes!


    Long live iTunes! 🙂

    Let’s hope YouTube’s paying attention.

  4. SXDMG

    Literati X is more than a great poet , he’s also an industry digital music Co-publisher. Which means there’s agreements in place with all four major labels and top-Independents for him to place the super star , the star and the upcoming on digital convergence contract. And he also owns the record label , Spoken X Digital Media Group , which allows him to command a 68 billion dollar balance anyplace and anytime on the planet of Earth. . I told you to witness the powerful eXperience of the spoken word eXplosion as I spray the spoken spectacular in 200 countries. I’m a master spoken X spitter of classical poetry. . .

    • steveh

      I’m a master spoken X spitter of classical poetry. . .

      Nope. You are a fucking twat.

  5. Adam

    But everyone kept saying with 800m credit cards on file they’d destroy everyone else! What happened?

    • Random guy

      Well, all those card can’t access to the service… as an owner of an iphone 4 i can’t upgrade to the ios that have the new itunes so even if i wanted to get it they denied me access… I dont wanna use it on my desktop, i want it to be portable before all…
      I’d be curious how many peoples can’t access the service like me….

    • GucciPiggy

      Just because credit cards are on file doesn’t mean people will jump ship to Apple Music when they already use better services such as Spotify.

  6. Yep

    This is no surprise. Eventually most of that 3.5 million will figure out how to cancel.

    This is a massive error for Apple. The more serious issue for labels is that the download store, has also collapsed. This leaves a massive sales issue for small indies.

    Lots of labels and artists are going to be seriously damaged by Apple Music.

  7. Universal Indie Records

    What many are failing to realize is that as of now.. Apple Music is only available on iOS. They are currently working on an Android version now which will only help to increase market share. By how much, I can’t call it… but the final numbers just aren’t in yet as everyone is erroneously assuming.

    • Guest

      Please, have you seen what happened to Apple’s just-released Move to iOS app? It was bombed with 1-star reviews. Expect the same fate with Apple Music once it arrives. The result will be that casual shoppers will likely not download it. On iOS, Apple has at least the home team bonus, but on other platforms it is a lot more difficult to attract new customers. Consider also that Spotify has a pretty good app and an established identify, whereas Apple has a history of producing poor applications for other platforms. Even on my iPhone 6 the music app runs shockingly poor. I don’t expect any wonders for Android. The Android app is not going to turn the tide for Apple.

  8. Rick Shaw

    Isn’t “roughly” 3-5 million a wide range and a very rough estimate.

  9. Haters gonna hate

    In what universe is 3.5 million paying users after 3 months a failure? Assume 80% of paying users are Individual and 20% are Family. At an average $10.55 per month, that’s about $37 million per month in gross revenue, or $443 million per year..assuming there is no more growth. (That is an absurd assumption.) Apple reportedly pays 58% to labels and 13% to publishers…71% of $443 million is more than and at least $300 million in revenue that creators and rights owners didn’t have on June 30, 2015. What’s more, in 2004 the iTunes store (which at the time was mostly music) did not grow so fast. User adoption takes time. Just ask Pandora and Spotify, great services that took a bit longer to get where Apple is after three months.