In an article in The Financial Times, it is reported that Apple Music now has 56 million paid subscribers to the streaming service. That is up from 50 million reported in May of this year and Apple Music is now the top music streaming service in the United States. Globally however, Spotify continues to lead the way with 87 million subscribers and, globally, added more new customers than Apple’s music service. The Spotify figures come from their latest earnings report.
The report and information was focused on the continuing discussions going on between Apple and iHeartMedia. Those discussions have been rumored to be going on for several months now with rumors suggesting it could be as little as an investment by Apple into iHeart, all the way up to a purchase of the company. For Apple, this would be a gap-closing move to bring them closer to the Spotify subscribers number.
When it comes to streaming music services, particularly here in the United States, it has come down to Apple Music and Spotify. Back in September, it was reported that the two services make up 80% of the music subscription services here in the US. Globally, those figures are too far off either.
For Apple, as the company continues to shift from being a hardware-only or hardware dominant company to a service company, getting more subscribers to Music is a critical path to sustained revenue. Apple and Amazon recently announced that Music will be available through Amazon’s Echo devices starting December 17.
There is no firm indicator of where the negotiations between Apple and iHeartMedia sit currently or what type of discussion – partnership or acquisition – is on the table. Either way, the move to work with iHeart makes sense for Apple as they try to cut into the lead that Spotify has on them on the global stage.