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Is Apple Music at 70 Million Subscribers Yet?

By Evan Niu, CFA - Feb 6, 2020 at 11:00AM

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The Mac maker's music-streaming service should be there by now.

Apple (AAPL 2.62%) has been rather quiet about Apple Music lately. The last disclosure regarding the Mac maker's music-streaming service came this past summer, when services chief Eddy Cue told a French media outlet that Apple Music had reached 60 million subscribers. That was about seven months ago, and CEO Tim Cook merely said on the most recent earnings call that Apple Music had hit a new all-time revenue record without sharing how many subscribers the service now has.

What's taking so long?

Apple Music on various Apple devices

Image source: Apple.

On the cusp of 70 million

Apple doesn't regularly disclose Apple Music subscribers but instead tends to announce when it hits various milestones. Here are some of the prior milestone disclosures:

Date

Subscribers

June 2019

60 million

January 2019

50 million

April 2018

40 million

September 2017

30 million

Data source: Apple.

It took just five months to add the most recent 10 million subscribers (that we know about), compared to roughly nine months to get from 40 million to 50 million. In other words, Apple Music subscriber growth appears to be accelerating as the company continues to focus on services monetization.

That also suggests that Apple Music should be approaching 70 million subscribers, if it hasn't already crossed that threshold. Cook's reticence on the topic is a bit peculiar considering Apple's penchant for touting milestones and achievements. Apple Music should be there by now.

Earlier this week, music-streaming leader Spotify (SPOT 3.92%) reported fourth-quarter earnings results. Since music streaming is its core business, Spotify discloses detailed metrics regarding premium subscribers and monthly active users (MAUs). The Swedish company now has 124 million premium subscribers, or over twice as many as Apple's last count. The relative proportion of each company's subscriber base has held fairly steady over the years.

Chart showing paid subscribers for Apple and Spotify

Data source: Apple and Spotify. Chart by author.

Amazon.com (AMZN 3.53%) recently threw its own data point into the mix, disclosing for the first time that it has 55 million music customers. However, that figure includes paid subscribers, ad-supported users listening for free, and everything in between because Amazon offers a slew of different plans for various use cases, including a cheap $4-per-month, single-device plan. The e-commerce tech giant's metric is most comparable to Spotify MAUs, which numbered 271 million at the end of the fourth quarter. Apple does not offer an ad-supported free tier.

Unfortunately, music streaming is a fairly small portion of Apple's overall business, so investors shouldn't expect the company to start disclosing Apple Music subscribers on a regular basis anytime soon. Assuming that Apple Music's average revenue per user (ARPU) is comparable to Spotify's premium ARPU (around $5), since both rivals offer identically priced plans and could conceivably have a similar product mix, 60 million subscribers would translate into $3.6 billion in annual revenue -- just 1.3% of the $267.7 billion in revenue Apple generated in 2019.

Investors will just have to wait until Apple is ready to brag again.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Amazon, Apple, and Spotify Technology. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, and Spotify Technology. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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