Apple Music officially has 6.5 million paying subscribers, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook during Wall Street Journal’s global technology conference. This ended speculations and estimates made by third-party websites and publications – including us – who tried our hand at trying to guess the overall paying Apple Music subscriber figures.
In total, Apple Music still has 15 million subscribers – 8.5 million are still in their free trial runs. We’re still in the dark with regard to specific figures – like the number of family subscriptions as opposed to individual ones – and the exact distribution of people (geographically and age groups). With what we have now, it’s hard to calculate how much Apple earns from their streaming service.
Apple Music’s numbers vs Spotify
In comparison, top honcho of the music streaming service, Spotify, has 75 million subscribers with 20 million paying to receive an advertisement-free service. We can’t help but compare the two: Apple is out for Spotify’s head while the latter is trying to deflect all attacks and retain its current status.
Though Apple Music’s subscribers pale in comparison vs Spotify, Tim Cook is still ecstatic with the development, saying that “it’s going really well” and “lots of people are liking it” during the WSJ conference.
It’s a solid start
Regardless of Cook’s opinion, we can certainly agree that it’s a solid start for Apple Music, which will likely gradually grow into a better product in the next few months.
Spotify was launched in 2008, seven years before Apple Music. Even with Apple’s late foray into the music streaming business, it managed to create a dent in the streaming market – we could even say that it has dislodged more established services like Pandora, Rdio, and Tidal.
It exceeded expectations: we did not expect that Apple’s “pay-to-listen” model would be appealing to users when there’s a free ad-based service like Spotify. A six million figure – nearly a third of Spotify’s paid subscribers – is great for a streaming service that launched barely six months ago. Take note that it took it four years to reach four million, a figure Apple Music beat and exceeded in just a few months.
However, bear in mind that the figure may be inclusive of people who have forgotten to cancel their subscriptions after their three month trial run. Note that Apple automatically charges $9.99 the day after the free days end. They might have rolled their eyes, shook their heads over the lost $10, canceled their subscription, and forgot all about it.
It gradually improved
Apple Music had a shaky release: numerous users complained of the horrendous user interface and the unfriendly navigation system. Safe to say that Apple Music was crucified and blasted in online forums and communities, like Reddit. People have tried out the service and after a week of trying to cope with it, they might have decided that it wasn’t worthwhile at all.
However, Apple took note and managed to create a usable product, leading to it earning the
money trust of over six million users. Compared to its launch version, it now has a better interface, a cleaner design, and visuals which are characteristic of Apple.
It also started controversially, with company initially stating that it will not pay artists during the free trial months. This was met with widespread ire from the music industry, and when Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Apple venting her frustrations, the Cupertino-based company relented and immediately announced that it will pay up. Curiously, this issue might have contributed to its success: after all, it gained much-needed publicity and might have made the general customer base curious.
Beats Radio and Jimmy Iovine
Other than music streaming, Apple Music also provides a free Internet radio station: Beats Radio, which is done in partnership with Beats honchos Dr. Dre and renowned producer Jimmy Iovine. Note that Beats, the headphone-producing company, was acquired by Apple a year ago.
Speaking of Jimmy, he was instrumental in the success currently enjoyed by Apple Music. In the past week, Iovine exclaimed his dissatisfaction to music streaming services offering free, ad-based schemes (like Spotify). He is also part of Apple Music’s overall development team.
The switch to streaming
Although Apple changed the way music is bought and acquired through iTunes, the world is now more inclined to stream their music instead of directly buying and downloading it.
In any case, music streaming is more convenient to many, considering that it no longer requires users to download numerous audio files which can collectively take up gigabytes of storage space. Apple Music will also be a blessing to entry-level 16 GB (gigabyte) iPhone 6s users who are inevitably bound to have storage space problems.
Apple Music is bound to change the music streaming landscape. Since there are currently 15 million subscribers who are on their free trials, the 6.5 million paid subscriber figure is bound to increase. It may only be a matter of time before things start shaking up.