Paid Streaming Subscribers will soon surpass free users

premium music streaming, music streaming, music biz, music, music industry, music business, spotify, apple music, 2019

Who is paying for music? According to a new report from the UK, almost everyone.

A new study released by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), a UK trade association, claims that the number of paid streaming music subscriptions will soon overtake the number of people accessing the same services for free.

The report, which was released on February 5, surveyed usage of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer, and YouTube Music, among others. The trade association found that more males already pay to stream (24.3%) rather than stream for free (23.9%), and more 25-34 year-olds also choose paid-for (34.9%) than free (27.9%). By a narrower margin, the same is now also true for 35-44s and 45-54s. You can view a full table of insights below. For women, more chose to stream music for free (19.1%) instead of paying to stream (16.8%).

For the time being, more people still stream for free (21.5%) rather than pay (20.6%), but the current conversation rates indicate a victory for paid-for services could come later this year.

Speaking on the results of the study, ERA CEO Kim Bayley said, “Ten or fifteen years ago popular opinion had it that it was all over for the music business and people would no longer pay for music. These figures are a striking vindication of the innovation and investment of digital services.

She added, “What is all the more remarkable is that the likes of Spotify and YouTube also offer fantastic free services, funded by advertising. These figures suggest that music fans increasingly believe that the added features offered by paid-for services, and the curation which enables them to navigate literally millions of tracks, are definitely worth the money.”

The ERA based its data on their recurring entertainment survey which every quarter for the past five years has quizzed a panel of 1,500 people on how they consume music video and games, tracking changing service and format preferences.

HOW PAID IS BEATING FREE IN THE STREAMING MARKET

 AllNov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid9.9%18.3%20.6%2.3%
Free17.6%21.7%21.5%-0.2%
  
MalesNov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid11.3%19.7%24.2%4.5%
Free19.9%21.7%23.9%2.2%
  
FemalesNov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid8.4%16.8%16.8%0.0%
Free14.9%21.7%19.1%-2.6%
  
Under 25sNov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid26.2%53.8%57.1%3.3%
Free31.8%64.0%45.7%-18.3%
  
25-44Nov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid23.00%34.2%34.97%0.8%
Free33.80%30.2%27.87%-2.3%
  
35-44Nov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid16.70%23.9%26.54%2.6%
Free20.10%25.6%24.38%-1.2%
  
45-54Nov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid6.70%14.6%15.67%1.0%
Free15.00%15.1%17.00%1.9%
  
55+Nov-16Nov-17Nov-18Change +/-%
Paid3.30%4.5%7.20%2.7%
Free12.10%10.7%14.90%4.2%

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.