APPLE MUSIC is on course to overtake Spotify as the hottest-streaming-service-in-the-world-roight-naaah, according to new figures .
A report in the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) says that if the current trajectory remains, Apple Music, complete with its assistant-management-pencil-tashed-indie-hobbit Zane Lowe, will overtake the streaming giant by the summer.
It's not a clear-cut thing. Because both Apple and Spotify offer a free tier, it's not as simple as saying "Apple Music is rising at five percent and Spotify is rising at two percent so there", because as well as the subscriber numbers, there's also differing business models.
Google Music and Amazon Music aren't even close, but both are still emphasising MP3 purchase as a means to sale far more strongly that iTunes, and for Spotify that's never been an option. In Google Play's case, for example, there's no ad-supported option - you subscribe or you buy individual MP3s to keep. That's not an even comparison.
Then there are other services like eMusic, recently resuscitated by an Israeli firm, which only offers MP3 purchase, but then you can both stream your purchases, and upload your own.
Then there's family plans. If you have a set fee for "up to five subscribers" then how do you know how many people are actually using that subscription?
In Amazon's case, you can buy a subscription for a single Alexa device. Does that count?
So if we're going down that road, users might not equal venue. If you've got more users, and you're making less per user, than that's less to pass back to the artists.
Then there's the freebies. When Kevin Bacon drools about "six months free Apple Music" (grow up Kevin, you're a middle-aged man now, stop pretending to be hip), how many people are actually using that freebie? If they don't, are they still part of the figures?
The whole thing is a minefield.
Apple's long-awaited Homepod will only play Apple Music. But both Alexa and Google Assistant can both be set to default to Spotify as well as their own services. Microsoft recently closed its Groove Music service, deferring to... Spotify. Alexa is coming to Windows computers, again offering Spotify or Amazon Music.
Eventually. Google will have to bring Assistant to Chrome and Chrome OS, and that'll expand its Play Music coverage, but on the other hand, given that Android is the most popular mobile OS in the world. why isn't Google already winning that one?
The fact is, there's no set methodology for streaming rankings. Perhaps Apple Music really is growing faster, perhaps its just counting differently.
Spotify tends on the side of celebrating milestones both of users and subscribers, but there's no way of comparing its figures… erm… well with Apples. µ
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