Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Counterpoint: Apple Music Hits 68 Million Paid Subscribers

By Evan Niu, CFA - Updated Apr 7, 2020 at 8:28AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The global market for music-streaming subscriptions has hit an estimated 358 million.

It's been nearly a year since Apple (AAPL 2.62%) services chief Eddy Cue said Apple Music had reached 60 million subscribers. The company doesn't regularly disclose Apple Music subscriptions, instead only giving investors updates when it reaches certain milestones. In contrast, rival Spotify (SPOT 3.92%) reports user metrics every quarter because music streaming is its core business. The Swedish company finished 2019 with 124 million paid subscribers.

Recent estimates from Counterpoint Research peg Apple Music's subscriber base at the end of 2019 at around 68 million.

Apple Music app displayed on a MacBook Air

Image source: Apple.

Global paid subscriptions top 350 million

Last week, the market researcher released estimates on how the global music-streaming market grew last year. Total subscriptions jumped 32% to 358 million. Spotify remains the leader in terms of both revenue share and paid subscription share, with Apple trailing by a notable margin.


Paid Subscription Market Share (2019)



Apple Music


Amazon Music


Tencent Music


Alphabet's YouTube Music




Data source: Counterpoint Research.

Translating those market shares into absolute numbers for companies that don't disclose metrics directly, Apple Music finished the year with approximately 68 million paid subscribers, while Amazon had around 53.7 million. The e-commerce juggernaut said in January that Amazon Music had 55 million customers, but that figure includes ad-supported users in the free tier.

When including free users, Tencent Music (which operates the QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo platforms in China) has the largest music-streaming user base in the world at 644 million, but just 39.9 million of those users are paying customers. Spotify and Tencent Music have stakes in each other following an equity swap in 2017.

"Spotify maintained its top spot with the help of promotional activities like free Spotify Premium for three months, price cuts, customized campaigns like Spotify and a focus on exclusive content," Counterpoint analyst Abhilash Kumar said in a release. "Tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google have started focusing on music streaming and have sufficient cash at their disposal to give stiff competition to Spotify."

Counterpoint also notes that expanding into podcasts and exclusive content is driving growth of paid subscriptions. Over the past year, Spotify has made a massive push into podcasts, spending an estimated $600 million on four podcast acquisitions so far (Gimlet, Anchor, Gimlet, and The Ringer). Apple has long been the leading platform in podcasts but has largely neglected the industry. The Cupertino tech giant is now reportedly investing in exclusive podcast content for Apple Music.

The music-streaming industry will be one sector that will be relatively spared by the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead, Counterpoint expects the global music-streaming market to jump over 25% in 2020 to exceed 450 million subscriptions by year-end.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, 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 Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Spotify Technology and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$169.24 (2.62%) $4.32
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
$119.70 (2.63%) $3.07, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
$142.69 (3.53%) $4.86
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
$120.65 (2.68%) $3.15
Spotify Stock Quote
$120.09 (3.92%) $4.53
Tencent Music Entertainment Group Stock Quote
Tencent Music Entertainment Group
$4.14 (0.98%) $0.04

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/10/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.