While the tech giant may not be selling as many iPhones, its music streaming service is booming. A report from the Wall Street Journal on Sunday predicts Apple Music will overtake Spotify in U.S.-based paid subscribers later this year, a feat that seemed impossible 12 months ago. Users are joining the platform at a much quicker rate than its popular Swedish rival, at 5 percent versus 2 percent. The number of total Apple Music subscribers has jumped from 20 million in December 2016 to 36 million at the start of this year, according to Statista.
At those growth rates, Apple Music, created in 2015, will have more paid subscribers than Spotify by the summer. The actual number of subscribers paying the full rate is somewhat hazy since both Apple and Spotify include members who are part of family plans and those with discounted subscriptions. In fact, Apple Music has more U.S. subscribers when you include people using a free or deeply discounted trial, the Journal reports. That’s because it has three to four times as many trial users as Spotify since it automatically signs people up to a three-month trial.
When you exclude trial users and family subscription plans, Spotify is ahead. It also dominates global numbers. Last month, the company said it had 70 million subscribers worldwide, about twice that of Apple Music and an even faster growth rate. It’s not clear how many of Apple’s 36 million and Spotify’s 70 million subscribers are based in the United States.
Both Spotify and Apple Music charge $10 to individual accounts for unlimited ad-free listening. Family subscriptions, which allow you to add six-member accounts, cost $15 for each service. Spotify has a free version with limited functionality and ads, whereas Apple Music requires users to pay.
Apple’s HomePod, a Siri-activated smart speaker set to launch later this week, could help Apple differentiate its service from rival platforms. Unlike other Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-connected speakers, HomePod will only support Apple Music for streaming.
Apple Music was a high point in the earnings report Apple released last week, which revealed that losses from fewer iPhone sales were being offset by high margins and its services business to the tune of an all-time quarterly revenue record.