The top dog in the streaming music business in the United States is Spotify, which boasts more paid subscribers than any of its rivals. However, that could change by the end of the year. Apple Music is on pace to overtake Spotify in paid subscriber numbers in the US by the end of the year, as Apple has been able to generate a higher subscriber rate for its streaming music service than Spotify since launching in June 2015.
Citing "people in the record business familiar with figures reported by two service," The Wall Street Journal says Apple's streaming music service is growing at a 5 percent clip each month, versus Spotify's 2 percent growth rate. If those figures stayed the same over the next several month, Apple Music would overtake Spotify by summer to become the biggest streaming music service in the US.
Apple Music's big advantage is having an entire ecosystem of hardware and software. Just as Microsoft was able to make Internet Explorer a dominant browser back in the day by bundling it with Windows, Apple preloads its Apple Music app on all of its iPhone and Apple Watch devices, among other hardware. And of course Android users are free to download the app through Google Play, it just obviously does not come preinstalled.
Overtaking Spotify on a worldwide basis presents a bigger challenge for Apple. Just last month, Spotify announced it had topped 70 million global subscribers. That is more than double the 30 million Apple reported for its Apple Music service last September, and nearly double the 36 million it told WSJ it has currently.
Spotify is planning to become a publicly traded company with an initial public offering (IPO) looming. It will be interesting to see if investors are skittish, given that Spotify will mostly likely drop to No. 2 in the US this year, or if the global numbers will keep interest high. Going public could also bolster Spotify's subscriber numbers, depending on the attention its IPO received.
Apple Music and Spotify cost the same, with both charging $14.99 per month for a family plan supporting up to six users, and offering a $4.99 per month student plan. However, Apple Music is available in more places—115 territories, versus 61 for Spotify, both of which include the US.