The streaming war is far from over, but Spotify’s lead is growing with each passing day.
People are willing to pay for music. As funny as it sounds to hear that now, there was a time shortly after the dawn of the millennium where the industry wasn’t sure if that was still the case. The rise of digital piracy lead many to believe people were no longer willing to shell out cash to support recorded music, but premium streaming subscription services such as Spotify have proven that notion false.
This week, Spotify announced it has finally crossed the 100-million paid user mark during the first quarter of 2019. The streaming giant, which has long been the market leader for music consumption, added four million premium users in the three months ending March 31, a 4 percent spike quarterly and 32 percent over the previous year’s quarter. Ad-supported monthly active users now total 123 million, an increase of 6 percent on the quarter and 21 percent year over year. Overall, total monthly active users rose to 217 million in Q1, up 5 percent from the previous quarter and 26 percent year over year.
Spotify’s latest figures place the company’s total subscriber count at double that of its closest competitor, Apple Music. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January that Apple Music hit 50 million subscribers at the end of last year.
Apple Music does, however, have a higher paid user count in the United States, which is the world’s largest market for music consumption. Apple Music is also growing faster in the US than Spotify. That growth may not be enough to overtake Spotify on a global scale, but it does show consumer preferences for streaming services are not yet set in stone.
Spotify’s advantage in the ongoing streaming war is its free tier. Apple Music requires a paid subscription, but Spotify allows over one-hundred million people a month to access its music library through a free tier that inserts advertisements in between songs.
Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal, and other streaming services have subscription numbers far below that of Spotify and Apple Music. So much so, that bringing up their paid user count in this conversation feels pointless. Still, with the right innovations, it is possible for anyone to rise through the ranks and become the next leading streaming service. After all, there was a time when it seemed like Netflix would reign over video streaming forever, but the recent news of Disney+ and its low monthly cost has made many to believe the service is in jeopardy of losing its position as the market king.