The vast majority of iPhone owners aren’t using Apple Music yet

Apple’s Music maestros.
Apple’s Music maestros.
Image: Todd Williamson/Invision/AP
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Apple has announced its first Apple Music subscriber numbers, via an article in USA Today: After a month, 11 million people have signed up for trial memberships, with 2 million of those choosing Apple’s more expensive family plan for multiple users.

There are two ways to look at that:

  • After a month, most iPhone users aren’t interested so far. Despite Apple’s prime distribution within the iPhone’s built-in Music app, only a sliver of users have bothered to sign up for a trial subscription. Business Insider’s Jay Yarow walks through the math: He estimates there are about 500 million iPhone users globally, and about 60% have updated to iOS 8.4, which is required for Apple Music. That suggests an uptake rate below 5%.
  • After a month, Apple has already signed up an audience 15% of Spotify’s size. The streaming music service has 75 million free users globally, which has taken since 2008 to amass, and 20 million paying subscribers.

Will Apple eventually grow larger than Spotify? It’s possible, but it’s not happening yet.

“Assuming all the trial memberships are converted into paying customers come October,” USA Today’s Marco della Cava writes, “Apple would already boast half the paid memberships of reigning streaming champ Spotify.” But that is a terrible assumption to make. Most people don’t pay for Spotify or other streaming music services for a reason—they don’t want to pay for music. So it’s simply not clear yet how many paying subscribers Apple will have after its trial period.

Longer-term, assuming Apple continues to make improvements to Apple Music, and does a good job marketing the benefits of a streaming subscription, it’s conceivable that it will grow larger than Spotify. But you can’t really base Apple’s growth trajectory—for better or worse–on one month of trial data.