Washington - Apple Music now has 10 million paid subscribers, according to a report from the Financial Times - a userbase that it took Spotify six years to accumulate.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the report indicates that the company's move into the streaming music world seems to be paying early dividends. The company had reported in October that it had nabbed 6.5 million paying customers, three months after it debuted under a three-month free trial for all users. At that time, 8.5 million users were still under the trial.
Apple Music had the distinct advantage of having a built-in audience, launching directly onto millions of iPhones by way of the company's default music app. (Not to mention Mac, iPads and iPods.) Since then, Apple has also released the service for Android phones, opening up its potential customer base even more.
The 10 million figure isn't an unqualified success - Apple has lost a good number of people who signed up for the free trial. But if the company is able to keep this kind of growth up, Music Business Worldwide projected that the firm could reach 100 million users in 6 years - reportedly an internal goal for Apple. That would far outstrip what any streaming music service has accomplished so far.
That's not to say that other music streaming services are on the ropes. Spotify currently boasts at least 20 million paying customers among its 75 million active users, according to numbers it released in June. (Unlike Apple Music, Spotify has a free tier.) Following the FT report, Spotify spokesman Jonathan Prince took to Twitter to say that the company had seen its “fastest ever” subscriber growth in the last half of 2015, likely putting it at around 25 million subscribers in total.
Both services cost $9.99 per month for paying customers, though a Spotify subscription made through the Apple store costs $12.99 due to Apple store policies.
Streaming music is the undisputed bright spot for the music industry right now. That leaves no mystery as to why Apple wanted to start adapting the music download juggernaut it's built with iTunes into a different business model.
Sales of digital downloads have started to fall, like the CD before them. (Vinyl is up slightly, but not enough to offset the drop-offs in other categories.) Nielsen said in its annual end-of-the-year music report that 2015 digital sales were down 2.9 percent from the same time last year. The report also found that we're buying fewer tracks overall, from 1.1 billion in 2014 to 964.8 million in 2015.
Overall music consumption, however, was up 26 percent - thanks, in large part, to an increase in audio and video music streaming.