Apple Music is still far behind Spotify — though a sunsetting iTunes could narrow the gap.
Apple Music now boasts 60 million paying subscribers, according to figures shared by the company this morning. Apple’s Eddy Cue disclosed the figure to French publication Numerama, while more broadly discussing the company’s shift away from iTunes.
Back in mid-May of 2018, Apple’s Tim Cook officially disclosed a total of 50 million paying subs. Which means that the platform has tacked on 10 million new subscribers in roughly 13 months — with both figures including paying and trial users.
Importantly, Apple Music’s rate-of-growth is slowing substantially. Last year, Apple was adding a breakneck 2 million subs a month, though a slowdown was probably inevitable.
Spotify announced that it had crossed the all-important 100 million-mark in April. Incidentally, Spotify hit the 75 million-mark in early May of 2018, right before Apple hit 50 million.
Cue was careful to emphasize that older iTunes users — and their playlists and collections — would not be left in the lurch by the transition towards a separate music app. But iTunes is now in the rearview mirror, with a dedicated music app rapidly replacing the older, consolidated media approach.
The transition could accelerate subscriber gains for Apple Music, though it’s still too early to understand the impact.
“Of course I’m fond of iTunes, but I think Apple Music is absolutely better in every way,” Cue relayed. “We have something better now and there’s no point in looking back.”
“And contrary to what the press may have reported, purchases and other iTunes playlists are being entirely transferred into the new application. Nothing will be lost from the pre-streaming era.”
Among those ‘press reports’ was Digital Music News — we broke the story last year that Apple was planning to sunset iTunes music downloads. At the time, sources noted that previously-downloaded songs would not be eliminated, which is exactly how Apple proceeded. But Apple hasn’t shut down its iTunes Store for purchasing song downloads — at least not yet.
In response to questions about the sunsetting of iTunes purchases, Apple’s former Head of Music Jimmy Iovine merely stated that the Store would be retired when “people stop buying.” So perhaps it’s just a matter of time.
On the topic of podcasts, Cue was less interested in creating an audio smorgasbord like Spotify.
“These are two different things,” Cue said. “You don’t listen to a podcast, then listen to a piece of music, and then listen to a podcast. And experience has shown us that running music and podcasts in separate applications works great on iOS.”
Just recently, Bloomberg estimated that Amazon Music has roughly 30 million subscribers, while Google/Alphabet (which includes YouTube and Google Play) claims around 15 million subscribers.