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April 11, 2019updated 12 Apr 2019 10:30am

Apple Music overtakes Spotify in the US and will soon do so globally

By GlobalData Technology

Apple Music has overtaken Spotify for subscribers in the US, marking major changes in the music streaming market.

Apple Music vs Spotify

While both companies only divulge their worldwide subscribers’ figures, sources close to both have reportedly revealed that Apple Music has 28 million subscribers in the US, compared to 26 million for Spotify.

Worldwide, Apple still has a significant mountain to climb, with Spotify currently boasting 96 million subscribers, compared to 56 million Apple subscribers.

However, Apple Music is growing faster at 2.8%, against 2.3% recorded by Spotify. Experts assert these figures demonstrate the potential for the streaming service to close in on the top spot in online music streaming.

Apple has been using its smartphone market penetration and its financial weight to entice new customers in an effort to aggressively catch-up to Spotify. To this end, Apple has been relying on hardware devices pre-installed with Apple Music, including 900 million iPhone users around the world.

Moreover, Apple made a smart business move by providing a three-month free trial for new subscribers, which allowed users to settle into the software, spending hours collecting a library of music to subsequently become dependent on the Apple service for music.

The biggest US carrier, Verizon, bundles free Apple Music subscriptions with certain cell phone service plans, but Spotify has similar deals with Sprint and Samsung.

Spotify still maintains a sizeable lead globally. However, Apple Music appears to be following a model that is both profitable and sustainable, with a growth rate that is eating at the success of Spotify.

Outstanding legal issues

While the battle for music streaming supremacy is often viewed as a zero-sum game, the impressive growth exhibited by Apple Music suggests that Spotify is quickly coming under pressure to maintain its position.

It would be fair to say Apple and Spotify are not on good terms. Last month, the Spotify CEO blasted Apple for what it called “unfair” policies around its App Store and filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission.

It appears that Spotify is feeling the heat of Apple with a rather unusual public statement against their rivals, which coincidentally came at the same time as Apple Music is taking the lead in the US.

The complaint stemmed from the notion that Apple has been stifling its competitors with high tax rates, limiting their communication with customers and blocking upgrades to the service.