Apple Music turns up heat on Spotify with 15m subscribers

Apple Music has been given a lick of fresh paint.

A new iOS 10 design for the platform was unveiled tonight at WWDC in San Francisco – the same event at which the service was first revealed last year.

Although it wasn’t quite the revolutionary rejig some anticipated, there was a fair amount of change announced by Bozoma Saint John, Apple Music’s head of global consumer marketing.

The key takeaways:

  • Apple Music now includes lyrics;
  • The platform has been integrated in Apple‘s core text messaging service, iMessage;
  • Connect has been somewhat relegated, losing its dedicated tab as it’s folded into ‘For You’;
  •  The general design of the platform has been refreshed, with The Library, For You, Browse and Radio tabs all getting an upgrade.

But perhaps the biggest news for industry watchers was the confirmation that Apple Music now has more than 15m subscribers.

Last we heard from Apple, Apple Music had hit 13m subscribers in April – which means that, in the first half of this year, Apple Music has consistently added a million paying customers every month.


That’s exactly the same pace of growth as we saw from Spotify in the first three months of 2016, when it increased from 28m paying subs to 30m between January and March.

There’s more we can dig into here.

Robert K

Last year, Apple exec Robert Kondrk (pictured) revealed Apple Music’s approximate revenue split agreement with music rightsholders. He said that Apple would pay music owners 71.5% of Apple Music’s revenue in the US.

Per year, at $9.99 per month, that would equate to $85.70 per subscriber, but this sum doesn’t take into account the fact that every one of these subscribers also gets a three month ‘free’ trial.

(Apple actually subsidizes this trial – following Taylor Swift’s famous letter – with royalties believed to be worth around $0.002 per stream to labels. But, for simplicity’s sake, it’s probably easier to dismiss this income for now.)

Across the nine months in which US actually pay directly, then, $64.30 of what US Apple Music subscribers cough up goes to the music business.

Annually speaking, that’s $0.17 per day, $1.24 per week and $5.35 per month.

Applied to Apple’s 15m subscribers, this would result in $2.55m being paid to the music business every day from Apple Music.

Alternatively, that’s $18.6m every week, $80.25m every month and $964m – or just under a billion – every year.

These figures, though, are more generous than the reality.

Not only does Apple offer significant family and student discount deals in the US, but the subscription price fluctuates wildly in other territories – and Apple Music’s available in over 113 markets, so it’s a complex picture.

Take China, for example, where the service is available for the equivalent of just $1.50 per month.

What we do know for sure: Apple is edging ever closer to becoming a billion dollar concern for the music industry.


What we also know for sure: last year, Spotify’s average subscriber was paying around $5.78 a month – with around $4 (70%) of this making its way back to rights-holders.

Across Spotify’s 30m subscribers, that would work out at $121.4m coming the music biz’s way from Spotify every month, or $1.5bn every year.

Apple has some catching up to do – and it’s not hanging about.Music Business Worldwide

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