Spotify this week said that it now has 40 million paying subscribers, up from 30 million in March. That means that the music subscription service is growing well over twice as fast as its closest competitor, Apple Music.
News of the new milestone came via a tweet from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, who noted cheekily yesterday that “40 is the new 30. Million,” robbing me of an excellent headline.
Spotify’s success is impressive because it’s already the market leader, and because industry and fan darling Apple belatedly entered the market with its own surprisingly high-quality offering, called Apple Music.
“Since launch, Apple Music has grown to over 17 million subscribers,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week at the Apple press event. ”
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Apple’s customers have responded in droves to Apple Music. After all, those guys love throwing money at Apple. But as noted, Apple Music is actually really good, and it’s only gotten better since launch. And Apple has even added Android support, shades of iTunes on Windows in the early 2000s.
What is a surprise, I think, is that Spotify has not only withstood this assault, it has in fact grown even faster than Apple Music. That is, Spotify added 10 million new paying subscribers in six months, while Apple added just 4 million in 7 months. Using my high school algebra skills, I know that that works out to 3.42 million in six months, or about one-third of what Spotify saw.
To be fair, 17 million is a big number, and Apple has reached that figure much more quickly than did Spotify. (And in case it’s not clear, all Apple Music subscribers are paying subscribers; unlike Spotify, Apple doesn’t offer a free tier.)
Neither service is perfect. I’m not sure I will ever be able to recommend Apple Music to Android users, for example—how could you trust them? And as I noted in Spotify Falls Short for Those With Their Own Music Collections, that service, while excellent, has a fatal flaw. But there’s something to be said for a company that just does one thing and does it well, and with dramatically lower pricing and a new deal with Sonos, Spotify has gotten a lot more attractive this year.