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US Music Streaming Subscriptions, By The Numbers – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

US Music Streaming Subscriptions, By The Numbers

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MusicWatch has just released a comprehensive study of the music subscription streaming landscape in the US.  The main headline is that music streaming subs are now at 51M in the US – Apple and Spotify have 20M each, Pandora has 6M, and the remaining 5M are split between Google/YouTube, Amazon Music Unlimited, iHeart and Tidal.

While these sound like lofty numbers for the subscription side of the house there’s another troubling storyline in the data.  MusicWatch estimates 20M listeners “free ride” on one subscription, and 29M additional listeners are either perpetually in free-trial mode, or have music streaming included in a bundled subscription like Amazon Prime.  That’s an extra 49M listeners who are getting subscription-level streaming without buying a full-priced sub.  This is what’s driving the streamers’ ARPUs down and making the entire music industry very nervous.

For this study MusicWatch didn’t focus on free ad-supported streaming, so I’ll give you some rough numbers for comparison.  If you do some comScore napkin math Pandora alone has over 70M addressable listeners, Spotify has about 30M, and Apple and iHeart have a few million each.

So in total the subscribers+free riders equal about 100M in the US, and the ad-free addressable audience is another 100M.  Granted, there may be some duplication in these numbers from listeners who use multiple music services, but it’s safe to assume that well over half the US population now listens to some form of music streaming.


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