Shockingly, Apple Music Has Never Had a Song Cross One Billion Plays — How Many Users Does This Spotify Competitor Actually Have?

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Photo Credit: Mariia Shalabaieva

Apple Music has never had a song rack up one billion or more plays, according to newly disclosed data – a stark contrast to Spotify and its quick-growing “billion club.”

The Apple-owned streaming service revealed the shocking stat in a recently published blog post about Ed Sheeran’s Apple Music Live performance. For background, Apple has long opted against pinpointing the exact number of users behind the music streaming offering, instead identifying combined-total subscriber figures for its suite of services (Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, etc.).

Consequently, the precise usership of Apple Music – which, it bears reiterating, costs $10.99 per month in the States and, unlike Spotify, Deezer, and others, doesn’t have an ad-supported tier – has for some time been the subject of speculation. As of April 1st, Apple boasted a total of 975 million subscriptions across all services, according to higher-ups.

The category is said to have produced almost $21 billion in revenue during the three months ending on April 1st, and J.P. Morgan last June predicted that Apple Music itself would crack 110 million subscriptions by 2025.

Regardless of the exact number, all Apple Music subscribers are paying members outside of limited free trials. That results in a better pound-for-pound revenue generator, albeit with lower overall streaming volume.

Back to the newly revealed stream-count insight, Apple Music communicated that Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” with approximately 930 million on-platform plays to its credit, “is the most streamed song of all time on Apple Music.”

“His smash 2017 single ‘Shape of You’ is the most streamed song of all time on Apple Music, with more than 930 million plays worldwide,” reads the relevant disclosure. Meanwhile, the six-year-old track has obtained 3.48 billion Spotify streams to date, against roughly 5.90 billion YouTube views for the song’s official music video.

Also worth noting is that “Shape of You” is currently ranked second on Spotify’s list of most-streamed songs, behind The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (3.58 billion) but ahead of Tones and I’s “Dance Monkey” (2.82 billion) as well as Lewis Capaldi’s fourth-ranked “Someone You Loved” (2.78 billion). Furthermore, each of the top-100 Spotify songs (by streams) has well over one billion plays at present, and evidence suggests that user growth is enabling tracks to hit streaming milestones faster than ever.

Among other things, the numbers attest to the continued reach of Spotify, which reported having 515 million monthly active users (including 210 million subscribers) when Q1 wrapped. (Within the “other things” category, reports have confirmed that Spotify is contractually obligated to award the major labels spots on prominent first-party playlists.)

Notwithstanding the difference between Apple Music’s usership and that of Spotify, though, it should be highlighted in conclusion that many of the Stockholm-headquartered platform’s users reside in countries where adverts cost comparatively little and subscriptions are relatively affordable.

The points are impacting the per-stream royalty rate of Spotify, which pools revenue and then distributes it based upon each artist’s share of overall streams. While Spotify reported little change in its subscribers’ geographic spread for Q1 – a total of 67 percent of paid users were based in North America or Europe – 49 percent of monthly active users resided outside North America and Europe on the quarter.

As part of the latter, Latin America’s user share topped that of North America for the first time in Spotify history, with Rest of World’s own percentage of users having quietly climbed by 15 percent from Q1 of 2019’s end.