Amazon Music Growth Outpaces Spotify, Apple Music

Posted on July 11, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Spotify with 38 Comments

A new report says that Amazon is growing subscribers for its music service faster than market leaders Spotify and Apple. Spotify still dominates from a subscriber number perspective, of course. But Amazon could surpass Apple Music if the current growth rates hold.

According to a report in the Financial Times that is based on Midia Research data, the Amazon Music Unlimited subscriber base jumped by 70 percent in the past year, landing Amazon in the number three spot in the industry with about 32 million subscribers. By comparison, Spotify grew its subscriber base by 25 percent last year, to about 100 million subscribers. Apple Music has about 50 million subscribers.

(A previous report stated that Amazon Music was expected to reach 35 million subscribers by the end of 2019.)

“Amazon is the dark horse [in music],” Midia Research analyst Mark Mulligan told the publication. “People don’t pay as much attention to it [as to Apple and Spotify], but it’s been hugely effective.”

Midia credits Amazon’s success to its “ubiquity” with consumers and the Alexa/Echo smart speaker technologies, which have proven popular with its customers. Amazon Music Unlimited is also less expensive than its rivals—$10 vs. $15 per month—and that price falls even further, to $8, for those with an Amazon Prime membership. Amazon also offers a super-cheap subscription, at $4 per month, for those who want to listen only via a single Echo smart speaker.

As you might expect, Amazon’s user base is older than that of its rivals as well. Amazon’s is the oldest user base, followed by Apple and then Spotify.

“We’re not battling for the same customers as everyone else,” Amazon’s Steve Boom confirmed. “For the industry to reach its full potential, we can’t just look at 15- to 22-year-olds.”

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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Amazon Music Growth Outpaces Spotify, Apple Music”

  1. Skolvikings

    Begrudgingly, I had to subscribe to both Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited. Okay, first world problems, I didn't HAVE to subscribe to both, but we were in a probably common situation for people who use Echo devices. My daughter and I love and use Spotify, and I'm not going to switch to Amazon Music because I find the app is crap. However, my wife and son use Alexa to listen to music and were always stepping on each other's toes, since you can only listen for free on one Echo device at a time. So for their sake, I subscribed to Amazon Music so anyone in the house can independently listen to whatever music they want on any Echo device they happen to be near.

    • bassoprofundo

      In reply to Skolvikings:

      So if you have a Spotify Family subscription, different people can't cast to different Echos in the same house using Spotify Connect? I don't have a family sub since I already have one for GP Music, but I'm curious as to how this works. I've had Spotify Premium in the past, and I could always select an Echo to cast to from the app. Would think you could do this on multiple different accounts...

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Skolvikings:

      You just got to think of it like subscribing to HBO and Netflix. It's all good as long as it's getting used.

    • wolters

      In reply to Skolvikings:

      Let me also add a "Begrudgingly" comment...Begrudgingly, I subscribe  to Spotify and YouTube Premium (Google Play Music / YouTube Music).


      Let me say...YouTube Music?!?!? What is going on with that thing?


      Google Play Music is quite good but I can't hang on to it since it is going to go away soon. I really need my music locker.


      Spotify I keep around to get ready to bail YouTube Music if I need to and just use it. It is also more widely compatible with most platforms and it works great with my Surface Headphones.


      I will eventually be on just one service. I want to give YouTube Music a little bit longer.

    • Darekmeridian

      In reply to Skolvikings:

      I have been asking around my friend group which is mostly families and nearly every one who cares about music has at least 2 services.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to Skolvikings:

      I'm exactly the opposite: I find that Spotify's app is crap. It's very possible that I just haven't taken the time to properly learn it, but it's always bugged me, and I am quite happy with Amazon's.

      • yoshi

        In reply to jbinaz:

        I find Spotify to be more polished, but Amazon gives me what I want. I don't like the way Spotify tries to force me to playlists instead of showing new albums or top charts. Both of those are front and center on the Amazon app. Also, I find Amazon gives me better recommendations.

  2. ben55124

    I find the bundled prime music good enough. Only issue is the nag to upgrade to unlimited -- which sometimes blocks playback on android auto.

  3. EZAB

    "I also wonder why they don't have more than three on the chart. I wonder where Google is and SiriusXM (which also owns Pandora now)". I didn't know about SiriusXM and Pandora!


    I would like to know where iHeartRadio is on the list, (Free and Paid). I use it a lot for AM radio. No one ever talks about iHeart. The App still works good on Windows Phone. Paul/Brad could you maybe do a review of the iHeart App on the iPhone? Thanks.

  4. dallasnorth40

    That is what I use. You just can't beat it if you are a Prime subscriber.

  5. orbsitron

    In response to Skolvikings' post on the Premium Comments section:


    If you have a Spotify Family subscription, then you can create a "SkolvikingsFamily" Spotify account for the Echo speakers (or for Sonos, etc.). That way, you only subscribe to one service and you get the benefits of Spotify specifically, like their curated playlists, community playlists, the "smart" playlists, the infinite play feature, etc., even on the Echo speakers.


    Another benefit is that you can share your Spotify playlists with the different family members' accounts, including the "SkolvikingsFamily" account and so any of your family members can play the shared, curated playlists on their phones or smart speakers etc.


    I pay $16.49 per month, after taxes, for my Spotify family subscription and I can play music, commercial free, at the same time as other family members, on our phones, assistant speakers, Sonos, etc. That may be $2 more expensive than Spotify Premium + Amazon Unlimited-for-One-Echo, but for the benefits and ease of sharing playlists, etc. it's worth it for me.


    The only downside I've seen to our solution is the lack of the ability to stream Spotify music from the Spotify cloud or download Spotify music offline to Apple Watch. My wife would use her Apple Watch a lot more if she didn't need to bring her phone with her to listen to music.


    I'm not sure the limited nature of the Spotify app on Apple Watch is due to...

    1) Spotify not attempting to implement those scenarios (ie: low priority to be on Apple Watch)

    2) WatchOS not having 3rd APIs that would allow for Spotify to craft a user experience which Spotify is happy with for those scenarios

    3) Apple blocking Spotify the way they have on iOS over the inability to upsell or even mention the idea of a premium subscription


    I've heard arguments claiming all three reasons. I personally believe it's likely a combination of #2 and #3. While I know other apps do offer download of offline music, the transfer is very slow and the UX is poor. Other 3rd parties have complained about the APIs available to improve that experience. Not sure about the streaming from the cloud instead of the phone feature though. That might be entirely due to #3 or some technical issue other than #2 that I just haven't heard discussed. Regardless, if streaming and/or downloading becomes an option for the Spotify app on Apple Watch, then the solution I describe above will truly be ideal and the value is already excellent.

  6. SvenJ

    Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. I didn't do actual math on the above, but if you have 100 subscribers and add 100 more, that's 100% growth. If you have 1000 subscribers and add 500 more that's only 50% growth. Those people better look out, they are falling behind.

  7. skane2600

    As I've pointed out before, growth rates between things that have significantly different base numbers, can be misleading. That's not to say that Amazon couldn't eventually dominate, but at this stage their growth rate isn't evidence that they will.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to skane2600:

      Sure. It depends on which headline you want to write. The article, using the same numbers, could has easily have been:


      Industry Leader Spotify Growth Dwarfs Rivals

      Music titan Spotify increased their user base by 20 million subscribers resulting in double the users of #2 Apple and dwarfing also-ran Amazon who only showed growth of a comparatively small 13 million.

  8. craisin

    I have been with Spotify since the first week it came on the scene. I was amazed that they then had 1000 users in first 3 days (I think). I never dreamed it would be ever this large (I remained a free user for about 3 months but have paid (gladly) ever since.

    At about $3 per week, they must be really raking it in (granted most would go out in royalties). I find it amazing that artists were worried it would affect CD sales (it has of course) but they must all now be much better off money-wise. I don't think too many people now "pirate" music. The free version of Spotify was still good (the ads were not too unpleasant) but I like to reward the music industry in some way.

  9. Greg Green

    So amazon grew by 19 million and Spotify grew by 20 million. That’s not outpacing. That’s trailing.

  10. Rob_Wade

    First, I have plenty of "devices", so it makes zero sense for me to throw more money into yet another piece of equipment. Second, I have no desire to use anything but Cortana. Third, NONE of these services provides me all the features I had with Groove before MS destroyed it, so there's really no reason for me to use any of those services.

  11. Patrick3D

    Amazon faces a problem in that they will hit a ceiling based on how many Alexa-enabled devices they have sold. I'm not aware of anyone subscribing to their music service on its own that don't have an Echo or Fire device. That said, I recently upgraded my Amazon music subscription from the single-device Echo plan to the unlimited plan, I'm very happy with the service. I can't imagine subscribing to a music service that isn't voice controlled.

  12. lvthunder

    It would be interesting to see this from a money perspective instead of the number of users. I'm guessing Apple would be in the lead there unless the Spotify numbers don't include the free accounts.


    I also wonder why they don't have more then three on the chart. I wonder where Google is and SiriusXM (which also owns Pandora now).

  13. Bats

    This is not surprising. I believe it's mainly because of the large Echo user base. It's just so easy and convenient to just say "Alexa, play......." , and the ability to play any music you want for just $4 month is of great value to most people. Especially those who use the very popular Amazon Echo.

  14. jdjan

    It’s the Echo effect. I yielded to the $4 single device subscription because it was so convenient to have Alexa play any tune without having to pair my phone each time.


    My main music service is Google Play - but that’s mainly because I am grandfathered in @ $8/month and get ad-free YouTube bundled as well.

  15. steenmachine

    Apple has quoted over 60 million as of July 1.


    And agree with @Bats comment, that the success and convenience of Echo is good reason why Amazon has significantly jumped.

  16. bluvg

    C'mon, Google. Get the awful YouTube Music app on par with Google Play Music and get in the game! It's been radio silence on YTM for way too long. It's crazy to see something as bad as Amazon Music--perhaps the worst music app--getting traction when you have a library of music on YouTube that *no one else has*.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to bluvg:

      Agreed. Amazon Music is actually pretty poor, and it's only the Echo devices that have boosted subscriptions. As Google are now rapidly catching up Amazon in smart speaker sales, there's a good chance GPM will see a large boost in subscribers too - but YTM is still pretty poor in comparison.

  17. rosyna

    Aren’t Spotify and Apple Music both $10/mo?

  18. red.radar

    Bah... my subscription service is ebay.


    Rip, Catalog and Resell.



    Edit: I was attempting to use sarcasm to point out the relative expense of carrying multiple music subscription plans vs the low cost and flexibility of physical ownership. I wasn't trying to advocate anything illegal. My apologies that point was mis-communicated.


    • illuminated

      In reply to red.radar:

      Guys like that are the reasons why I cannot watch BluRays on my TV. I have only one PC with BluRay drive in the entire house and I just want to rip the movie to PC and stream it to TV via Plex. However I cannot do that without buying some sort of shady software from some shady place. So no BluRays for me. Thank you everybody :)

    • remc86007

      In reply to red.radar:

      That is illegal. Do you not care to support the people that made the music you are listening to?

      • Daekar

        In reply to remc86007:

        I buy, rip, and give away the CDs to the less fortunate. Even if that's illegal, I have trouble feeling bad about it.

        • Rob_Wade

          In reply to Daekar:

          I'm not surprised. That's an example of what's wrong with society. You don't feel bad about doing something wrong.

          • magmastyle

            In reply to Rob_Wade:

            Did you miss his response about buying? What is illegal about that? or is there a law against ripping the CDs you own? Or you just feel like saying something to fit your own narrative?

            • MikeGalos

              In reply to magmastyle:

              What's illegal is selling the license you bought with the medium and then using the copy you made of the intellectual property you no longer own. If you sold it, you sold all of it including any copies you made.


              • red.radar

                In reply to MikeGalos:

                Technically I think what is illegal is the selling for commercial profit. The idea that you buy a copy, format shift and then recover your costs by selling a single disk is not commercial scale copyright infringement. It doesn't show a motive to make a profit.


                I may be wrong, the 2000s filesharing case precident is a little fuzzy. Where is our resident lawyer?


                Ethically sketchy and dubious. However you unlikely to get busted because your not committing mass scale infringement. The RIAA is more likely to go after ebay, but they are unlikely to win a case because ebay can't be responsible for what their users are doing with the disk unless they promote the loophole. They are also highly unlikely to sue your local library ... that just writes its own campaign speeches right there.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to red.radar:

                  I doubt there's any loophole in the law for non-commercial scale copyright infringement. Whether the IP owners come after you is a separate question from the legalities.

  19. illuminated

    Amazon is amazing percentage-wise but I always prefer dedicated services. Search on Amazon is a mess. I search for music and find cat food or power tools. Never had that problem with spotify. They have no cat food. I love that.

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