Counterpoint Sees Big Gains for Music Streaming Subscriptions In 2020 — But Can People Afford It?

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Despite the recent music streaming decline and the far-reaching economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, market-research company Counterpoint is anticipating a sizable uptick in streaming-service subscriptions this year.

Counterpoint voiced the sunny prediction in a press release, which also highlighted the stellar commercial performance of music streaming in 2019. The research brand cited exclusive podcasts, bundled offers, and lessened pricing in developed markets as the chief contributors to a 32 percent year-over-year increase in the total number of music streaming subscriptions in 2019.

And based upon this solid growth, Counterpoint stated that they expect music streaming platforms’ subscription count to hike by approximately 25 percent in 2020, to roughly 450 million by the start of 2021.

This expectation is seemingly at odds with other analyses and predictions, which maintain that the financial strain of the coronavirus will prompt many subscribers to cancel their streaming services first, if push comes to shove. Additionally, music streaming’s relative decline—and video streaming’s relative increase—amid the coronavirus pandemic has been well documented.

Counterpoint’s report provided other interesting statistics and information, too.

Spotify secured 35 percent of total paid subscriptions in 2019, according to the study, while Apple nabbed about 19 percent of paid subscriptions. Significantly, despite this relative discrepancy in subscription numbers (16 percent), Spotify boasted a 31 percent share of total music streaming revenue, whereas Apple’s portion of earnings came in at 24 percent—a difference of just seven percent.

Next, the report reiterated the continued dominance of regional music-streaming services, even as brands like Spotify are attempting to increase their international prevalence. Gaana is the clear-cut leader in India, for instance, as is Anghami in Arab nations and Tencent in China.

Finally, Counterpoint’s analysis indicated that Amazon Music is quickly catching up to Apple Music in terms of paid subscriptions. Apple Music’s share of overall paid subscriptions stands at about 19 percent, once again, while Amazon Music’s premium subs comprise 15 percent of the market, up from 10 percent in 2018.

Financial professionals recently signaled that the coronavirus crisis could inflict a $2.7 trillion blow to the world’s economy, purely in terms of lost output. That’s obviously dragging broader markets, though Spotify’s stock (SPOT) has proven relatively resilient despite broader fears of softening listening hours and subscriber growth.

4 Responses

  1. Jason Miles

    Are you kidding me? We used to pay $15 a CD and even more than that at times. So nobody should ever be complaining about spending $10 a month to stream all the music you possibly could wanna hear. Music Is an essential part of our lives and $10 a month is beyond cheap. Remember we the artists Are the ones who get screw the most I know you want to take even more away from us

  2. Paul Resnikoff

    Interesting report. Seems like we’ve got many different directions this can go; a more serious downturn could out how essential people feel services like Spotify, Apple Music, then Netflix are. Also interesting to see who wins out (Netflix over Spotify, Apple Music over Hulu, etc.) One problem is, well to be blunt about it, a lot of people have gone completely broke or soon will be.

  3. Tom Hendricks

    Counterpoint seems clueless. And out of touch with pennies for play, the music revolution, etc.

  4. Versus

    Spotify and all streaming services should finally be raising the pay-outs — significantly — per stream. This crisis shows that musicians cannot rely on live music for a “living wage”, and treat recorded music as a “loss leader”. That was never a sustainable model for many musicians anyway, who cannot tour “at scale” to make a profit, or who cannot perform live for other reasons. We need to re-value recorded music.

    There should be a substantial minimum payout rate per stream. Plus, of course, full transparency of how streaming services calculate and apportion the pay-outs.

    The pay-outs should be per-stream to the rights-holders of that particular streamed work, and should be “user-centric”. That is, each subscriber’s payment should ONLY go to the music he or she actually listens to. As is, listener has no say in where they money goes, and it usually goes to the most popular artists of the moment, even if that listener never listens to those. This current system hurts the smaller and indie artists.

    $10/month is not sustainable as a way to pay out for unlimited listening. If this means higher priced subscriptions for unlimited play, then so be it. Keep the free and lower-priced options for different amounts of streams per month.