The competition to be the streaming music leader is intense.
In February, Apple Music had 28 million paid subscribers in the U.S., while Spotify had 26 million paid subscribers in the U.S., marking the first time that Apple’s streaming music service passed Spotify.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the subscription figures, adding that while both services are growing, Apple Music’s growth rate is higher that Spotify’s.
Spotify is still a much larger service than Apple Music, with nearly 100 million paid subscribers worldwide and more than 100 million active users on its free, ad-supported tier. Apple Music does not have a free tier, but counts more than 50 million worldwide subscribers.
Combined, Spotify and Apple Music dwarf all other subscription competition. Pandora, which is now owned by SiriusXM, has north of 6 million paid subscribers, and nearly 70 million users on its free, ad-supported tiers. Amazon Music is said to have “10s of millions” of users, according to the company, though it's believed to lag behind Spotify and Apple.
Spotify has opted to lean into areas where Apple Music does not compete in an effort to grow its business. The company is building out new advertising tools and formats, including sponsorships of its signature playlists.
The company is also committed to spend $500 million this year on podcast acquisitions. So far, the company has acquired Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast, with other acquisitions likely. While podcasts are popular on Apple devices (the term is a portmanteau of “iPod and broadcast”), Apple Music has thus far focused on streaming music, music videos, and some music-related video programming.
Streaming music now accounts for 75% of all music revenues, according to The Recording Industry Association of America’s 2018 music industry revenue report.