The latest data indicates that more than 100 million people worldwide now pay to listen to music streaming services. Spotify leads the way in paid subscribers, with SiriusXM satellite radio a close second, and the relatively new Apple Music coming in third, and quickly gaining ground on its competitors.
The top three streaming music services, Spotify, SiriusXM and Apple Music together, account for more than 85 percent of the total number of music streaming service subscribers. Smaller rivals such as Tidal, Rhapsody (including Napster) and Deezer account for the majority of the remaining listeners, measured as of September 2016.
Spotify takes the top spot with 39 million paid listeners, an impressive number considering it was just early this year that the paid subscription tier of Spotify broke the 30 million mark. Spotify now boasts more than 100 million monthly listeners in total, and has aggressively promoted its paid tier as it prepares to go public in an IPO slated for 2017.
Recently, it was reported that Spotify is now seriously considering allowing some new music releases to be accessed on its paid tier only for a specified amount of time before that music is released on the free tier.
That contradicts CEO Daniel Ek's prior stance that the company would not differentiate the music available on the paid and free tiers, but with the company going public and needing to seal deals with the three major record labels in order to do so, it looks as if Spotify may make some concessions that could also push up the number of paid subscribers.
In second place is SiriusXM satellite radio with 30.6 million paying subscribers. Many may not consider SiriusXM a pure streaming service in that it delivers its content not only via the web but also by satellite to specially-equipped radio receivers. The majority of those receivers are located in vehicles, which gives SiriusXM a huge advantage over its competitors in that regard.
SiriusXM also has a secret weapon in the form of Howard Stern who, as the most popular radio personality in the United States, drives the subscriptions of millions of his devoted fans. The service is also well known for its varied talk and news offerings and curated musical content in numerous genres.
Apple Music takes the number three position, with an estimated 17 million subscribers. The service, which was just introduced last year, has grown rapidly because of its built-in Apple fan base, and is adding approximately 1 million new subscribers per month.
Other subscription services like Deezer (6 million subscribers), Pandora (4 million paid subscribers), Napster/Rhapsody (3.5 million) and Tidal (3 million) round out the tally to more than 100 million in total. Some industry experts predict that once that number grows even further, paid streaming may become the norm with free streaming eventually biting the dust in its favor.