Paid monthly music subscriptions have nearly doubled since 2016.
According to new data collection by MusicWatch, an estimated 51 million people in the US are now paid monthly subscribers on at least one major music streaming platform, including Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, Google/YouTube Music, and iHeartRadio.
The study, which was initially reported by Billboard, highlights the surging popularity of online music streaming platforms, which are together fueling the domestic music industry’s fourth consecutive year of growth. Amazon Prime Music was left out of the study since it is bundled with Amazon Prime. Napster, Tidal, and Deezer were also left out because their subscription numbers were considered too small a slice of the pie. Interestingly, SoundCloud isn’t even in the conversation.
The report also highlights the music industry’s deep reliance on tech for driving their profits. According to an RIAA report last year, music streaming collectively generated 65% of US recorded music revenue in 2017. At a time when the domestic music industry is coming off nearly 20 years of decline, the major labels are heavily reliant on companies like Spotify, who is halfway between it’s 24-month deals with Sony, Universal, and Warner.
The MusicWatch study also highlights the sustained dominance by Spotify and Apple, whom together make up “at least 80 percent” of the domestic music streaming market. Both platform have upwards of 20 million subscribers each, as reported last month. The remaining 11 million subscriptions are divvied out between the other five “majors” —with Pandora reporting around 6 million, and 5 million split between iHeartRadio, whose bordering on bankruptcy, and tech giants like Amazon and Google, which the report points out are already “falling surprisingly far behind.”
Apple announced that Apple Music surpassed the 50 million active user mark in May, reporting another 20 million at the end of July. Spotify, by comparison, reported 70 million users in January and 83 million subscribers at the end of June.
MusicWatch Report Highlights
- An estimated 51 million people in the U.S. are now paying monthly subscriptions for music streaming services
- An estimated 20 million separate users in the U.S. are currently sharing one of these paid accounts without shelling out money themselves
- At least 29 million users are either on free trials of streaming services without having yet converted to paid tiers, or are automatically subscribed to bundled music services without necessarily being active users (e.g. Amazon Prime/Amazon Music, Hulu/Spotify).
- In total, 157 million people in the country still stream music for free without trials (e.g. YouTube, Spotify’s free tier).
- Spotify and Apple Music combined dominate at least 80 percent of the domestic music streaming market
- Spotify and Apple Music reported upwards of 20 million paying subscribers each in the US, while Pandora (US only) has over 6 million subscribers
- 5 million combined paying subscribers belong to Google/YouTube, Amazon Music Unlimited, and iHeartRadio.
- The mean income of self-paying subscribers is 10% higher than that of non-paying users ($88,000 vs. $80,000, respectively).
- The mean age of self-paying streamers is 34 years old, while free and trial users have a mean age of 37 years old.
- The 45+ age groups are underrepresented among self-paying music subscribers.
- Streamers who share paid accounts are the youngest of the three groups, with a mean age of 29 years.