Apple Music Grabs Over 10M Subscribers in 6 Months

Since the streaming service launched in June of 2015, it has been growing at a brisk pace, according to sources familiar with the service.

Apple Music, Taylor Swift, Spotify, Pandora, streaming music

Apple Music has passed the 10 million subscriber plateau, hitting that mark in just six months—which is 10 times faster than the six years it took competitor Spotify to hit the same milestone.

The 10 million subscribers for Apple Music were revealed in a Jan. 10 report by The Financial Times, which was based on anonymous sources who are knowledgeable about the progress of Apple's streaming music service.

Apple launched Apple Music on June 30, 2015, in 100 countries, including the United States, to join the iTunes store as a means to give music lovers a new way to find a huge catalog of music in one destination. Individual memberships are priced at $9.99 per month, while a family membership for up to six family members is priced at $14.99 per month.

By diving into the streaming music business, Apple took on competitors including Spotify, Pandora, Google Play and others in offering subscribers the ability to listen to almost limitless music collections in real time from anywhere.

Apple did not respond to an eWEEK inquiry on Jan. 11 seeking comment about hitting the 10 million subscriber mark.

"It's good news that Apple is making streaming work but it is also going to accelerate the decline of downloads," Mark Mulligan, a music industry analyst with Midia Research, told The Financial Times. At that rate, Apple has "the potential to be the leading music subscription service sometime in 2017."

Interestingly, just two weeks before Apple Music launched last June, Spotify announced that it was getting $526 million in new funding, including a $115 million investment from Nordic telecom operator TeliaSonera AB, according to an earlier eWEEK story. With that investment money, Spotify, one of the most popular players in the streaming music market along with Pandora, is now valued at some $8.53 billion. The additional money is being used to help fortify Spotify as it faces Apple in the marketplace. Apple has a large user base and an established iTunes business that has been selling music by the song or album since 2003.

Spotify's premium music streaming accounts cost $9.99 per month for the first user, with a 50 percent discount for each additional family member who wants to use the service.

Spotify also announced last June that it had just reached the 20 million subscriber mark, barely a year after hitting the 10 million subscriber mark in May of 2014. The company claims about 75 million active users, including a majority who use its free ad-supported streaming services. Spotify, which is available in 58 countries, says it has about 30 million songs in its collection, with about 20,000 added daily. The company says it has paid out more than $3 billion in royalties to musical artists for the content it is providing to subscribers.

Before it even launched, Apple Music was embroiled in a controversy after the company announced that it would not pay royalties to musicians on music it provided during free 90-day trials it provides to subscribers. The company quickly changed its mind after megastar musician Taylor Swift posted an eloquent argument about the unfairness of the company's actions.

By withholding those payments, Apple's proposed action would have been most harmful to new musical artists who are still struggling to find success, wrote Swift. "This is not about me. … This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field … but will not get paid for a quarter of a year's worth of plays on his or her songs."

Swift also reminded Apple that the company doesn't give away its own products on a whim. "We don't ask you for free iPhones," she wrote. "Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation."

After Swift posted a link to her Tumblr post on Twitter, Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president for Internet software and services, responded to her post and said the company heard her argument and would pay the musicians even during the trial periods.