At 17 million subscribers, Apple Music is still playing a rocky game of catch-up

Apple Music still lags far behind Spotify in paying subscribers.
Apple Music still lags far behind Spotify in paying subscribers.
Image: Apple
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Apple Music has 17 million subscribers, Apple CEO Tim Cook proudly announced at the company’s event in San Francisco today (Sept. 7). Not too shabby for a music-streaming service that’s only been around since June 2015 and was expected to die a quick death.

But it’s not enough to topple competitors either. Apple Music’s user base still lags far behind the 39 million paying subscribers that Spotify announced last month.

Granted, Spotify has been around for much longer—it launched in 2006—but Apple’s default installation of its music program onto all iPhones, coupled with its aggressive rollout of original features over the past few months, should have handed the platform a higher growth rate than it’s exhibited thus far.

Apple Music’s new offerings include:

More updates may be forthcoming: Apple also announced wireless AirPod earphones for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that could pave the way for high-quality audio and other snazzy music-related features—though no specific plans related to Apple Music have been unveiled.

In the meantime, the streaming service is not above making overt digs at its rivals. Earlier this summer, Apple Music’s general counsel all but called Spotify executives liars—worse, stingy ones.