Spotify may rule the roost when it comes to music streaming services, but other services are catching up fast, including Apple Music, the music offering from Cupertino, California-based tech giant Apple. In an interview to Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the service had hit the 50 million subscribers mark, a big jump from the 40 million reported in April. However, there’s a catch – this figure also includes about 8 million free trial subscribers who were not included in the April total. Nevertheless, this still marks a rough 2-million-paid-subscribers-per-month growth track which Tim Cook is no doubt happy about.
Apple Music was launched in June 2015 in 100 countries worldwide and has seen rapid growth in the months since. The platform hit 10 million subscribers in only six months after its launch and has been growing steadily since. In fact, a February 2018 report in The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Apple’s subscriber count appears to be growing at 5 percent as compared to industry leader Spotify’s 2 percent. This puts Apple Music well on the track to overtake Spotify, especially in the United States which both services count as their primary market.
Originally started only as an audio-based service, Apple Music expanded into video in 2016 and announced plans to expand into original content production in January 2017. At the time, Jimmy Iovine, the Co-founder of Apple-acquired Beats Electronics, said that Apple Music was intended to grow into a “cultural platform” and a “one-stop shop for pop culture”. The service has made small steps into the content development space, amidst a great deal of speculation, and Tim Cook confirmed those plans, saying, “We are very interested in the content business...we will be playing in a way that is consistent with our brand. We’re not ready to give any details on it yet. But it’s clearly an area of interest.”
The growth of Apple Music could mark an important shift for a tech company that has built its fortunes almost exclusively on the sale of consumer electronics. While the company does not reveal specific revenue figures for Apple Music, its Services vertical – which includes Apple Music – earned $9.2 billion in the quarter ended March 31, a quarterly growth of 8 percent and year-on-year growth of 31 percent. While still dwarfed by Apple’s iPhone sales ($38 billion), this is nearly as much money as the company earned from the combined sales of iPads and Macs in the entire quarter ($9.9 billion).
It’s unlikely that Apple Music will make any major contribution to the company’s bottom line in the near future, but there’s definitely a lot of potential here for returns, especially considered Apple’s rumoured $1 billion commitment to create original video content.
In an interview this March at South by Southwest (SXSW), Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, told AppleInsider that Apple Music plans to go “after quality, not quantity”. It will be interesting to see what shape the service takes, particularly as it diversifies into the domain of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is taking place this year from June 4-8. Expect more updates and details about the future of Apple Music and other services then.