According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the battle between Apple and Spotify continues to escalate. “People familiar with the matter” revealed that Apple Music now has more paid US subscribers than Spotify—specifically, more than 28 million versus Spotify’s 26 million as of February 2019.
Those sources also claim that Apple Music is expanding more rapidly in the US, at a rate of about 2.6 to 3 percent. Spotify’s growth rate is reportedly 1.5 to 2 percent.
It’s unlikely that Apple will claim this as a victory, because it, like Spotify, doesn’t publicly break out regional subscriber counts. However, if the estimates are accurate, they show that US customers are embracing Apple Music as much as (and possibly more than) its Swedish competitor.
But the numbers in the report only reflect paid US subscribers. Spotify, which claimed 207 million active users globally in December, remains the leader of music streaming. Of those 207 million users, 96 million are paid subscribers or users currently in a trial that will lead to subscription.
Unlike Apple Music, Spotify has a free, ad-supported tier. Globally, Apple Music has 50 million paid subscribers; therefore, the numbers from this recent report show that more than half of Apple Music’s subscriber count comes from the United States.
While Apple Music’s growth doesn’t spell incredible revenue gains for the company in comparison to its other efforts (it costs a lot to pay record labels, artists, etc), it’s a sign that the company is moving in the right direction. Lately, Apple has shifted its strategy to creating and offering more services in an effort to offset sluggish iPhone sales. Apple’s new TV streaming service TV+ and its gaming subscription service Apple Arcade will join Apple Music in the company’s services portfolio when they launch later this year. The company already launched News+, a paid news and magazine subscription service available in the Apple News app.
This new report follows an Apple and Spotify clash in Europe after the Swedish company argued to the European Commission that Apple is abusing its power to give its music streaming service an upper hand. Spotify has been forced into Apple’s In-App Purchase service, which gives Apple a 30 percent commission for transactions made in iOS apps like Spotify’s. That system forced Spotify to raise its prices in Europe to €12.99 per month, a change that happened about one year before Apple Music debuted at Spotify’s original €9.99 monthly price.
As a result, Spotify has tried to circumvent Apple’s system by directing users to its website, where transactions wouldn’t be subjected to Apple’s commission fee. Apple wasn’t keen on this strategy and has responded by taking a long time to approve new versions of Spotify’s iOS app. Experts believe Spotify has a good case in Europe, but the European Commission has yet to respond to the company’s antitrust request.