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Spotify Pulls In 50 Million Premium Subscribers: Can Apple Music Keep Up?

2 March 2017, 9:32 pm EST By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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Spotify has announced that it now has over 50 million premium subscribers, incurring yet another firm lead in the music streaming space. Apple and Tidal are far behind, and it might require drastic measures for them to keep up.  ( Spotify | Twitter )

Spotify is kind of a godsend, letting users listen to almost every song on the go for a monthly fee that'll cost less than two physical CD albums.

While it can't boast the classic feeling of opening up a vinyl record or crate-digging inside old record shacks, it is, however, convenient, fast, and hassle-free. Fifty million people seem to think so too.

Spotify Reaches 50 Million Subscribers

Yes, Spotify now has 50 million premium subscribers, which is an impressive surge of growth for the company, having clocked just 30 million paid subscribers in March 2016, 40 million by September 2016, and now halfway to a hundred million. The figure, however, only includes premium users — the numbers might be close to or clock more than a hundred million when free non-premium listeners are included in the tally.

However one looks at the figures, it's undeniable that Spotify has a firm lead over its music streaming competitors. Apple Music is nowhere near Spotify's present-day subscriber count, with only 20 million total as of December 2016. There's still a ways to go for Apple before it can rake in comparable numbers.

Meanwhile, Tidal, another streaming service, is far, far behind, with a reported 1.1 million subscriber count as of October 2016, according to The Verge, and there are even rumors that the streaming service is embellishing its subscriber count so as to appear it's doing better than it really is.

Can Apple Music Best Spotify?

Prospects for the company only look bright. Soon, Spotify could start offering Hi-Fi lossless audio for an additional price, mirroring Tidal's Hi-Fi streaming service at present. Its subscriber count renders it the leader still in the fairly incipient space that is music streaming, and it'll likely enjoy that honor for a long time, unless Apple Music does something drastic, such as offering exclusive video content, which it eventually will, with an exclusive season-length Carpool Karaoke spinoff. But will it push past Spotify's current numbers? Time will tell.

Still A Long Way To Go Before It Can Turn A Profit

Passing the 50 million mark is a significant milestone for Spotify at a time when music streaming is increasingly overtaking physical music sales. Last year was the first time streaming services beat out physical CD purchases, and it's becoming a dominant driver of revenue in the music industry, according to Billboard.

But while its subscriber count is certainly one to boast about, Spotify has yet to turn a profit, having lost nearly $200 million on $2.2 billion in revenue in 2015. Moreover, the company's $1 billion of convertible debt, raised in early 2016, will require steep interest payments the longer the company remains private. There are talks of the company going public like Snapchat had done so recently, suggesting a 2018 IPO for the streaming service.

Spotify's continued lead could also help it acquire more artists exclusively. At present, artists such as Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and a handful of others have opted not to release their music, or at least prohibit a portion of their work, on the streaming service, but this doesn't solve the company's problems altogether. It still has to worry about music licensing fees and customer acquisition, among others.

At any rate, an uptick in subscriber count can only be a good sign.

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