Side Note

Apple Music might finally be overtaking Spotify in the U.S.

Spotify’s years-long dominance of the streaming music industry may finally be over. Apple Music now has more paid subscribers in the United States than Spotify, Tidal, and Sirius XM, according to a Digital Music News report citing confidential data from a private source. While it declined to share numbers in order to protect that source, the site revealed that both Apple Music and Spotify have over 20 million subscribers each in the U.S.

Apple Music may be taking over.

Apple Music may be taking over.

Streaming service subscriber numbers have proven a contentious subject as streaming has overtaken other means of consuming music. A Norwegian news outlet’s May report that Tidal had allegedly been fudging its streaming numbers to manipulate artist payouts drew attention to just how trustworthy or not all platform-provided streaming data can be. Still, industry experts predicted Apple Music’s ascendance over Spotify earlier this year. Spotify had several weeks of bad PR since May, when it announced and then walked back on a promise to remove problematic artists such as R. Kelly and XXXtentacion from its sponsored playlists.

Meanwhile, artist exclusives, one feature that has so far distinguished the platforms from one another, are proving tricky to manage. Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s joint album Everything Is Love was released on Apple Music and Spotify after only a day as a Tidal exclusive. In June, Pitchfork reported in June that Tidal-exclusive albums actually resulted in more piracy rather than more paid subscribers.

Apple Music’s slight edge over Spotify is, so far, more pressing for the companies than for consumers. Should one company eventually gain a clear majority of music subscribers, it could mean yet another shift in what music discovery looks like for artists and fans.


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Correction: A previous version of this story failed to specific that the Digital Music News story concerns U.S. subscribers, not global subscribers.