The war for dominance in the streaming space has many players–Google/YouTube, Tidal, Napster, Deezer and a dozen or so others–but it’s looking more and more like the two top dogs will be Spotify and Apple Music.
Spotify is currently in the lead with more than 40 million subscribers but also continues to bleed money and needs to sort out its finances before it can issue an IPO. Apple Music is in second place with something less than 20 million subscribers and plagued by lingering bad first impressions about is UI but has access to an endless pit of money. not to mention a user base of tens of millions of iPhone users.
So it’s down to just these two players, right? That’s what Music Industry Blog seems to think.
Spotify has just delivered 2 landmark data points: 40 million subscribers and $5 billion paid to rights holders to date. Although the 3 million added in Q3 was down on the 7 million added in Q2 (boosted by a summer pricing promo) there is no escaping the fact that Spotify’s momentum has accelerated rather than declined since the emergence of Apple Music. 2016 is proving to be Spotify’s year. The question is how well the rest of the market is performing beyond the 2 market leaders?
The streaming music market as a whole is experiencing unprecedented growth, with the major labels collectively reporting a 52% increase in streaming revenue in Q2 2016 compared to the same period 12 months ago. Given that total streaming revenues (including YouTube etc. but not Pandora) grew by 44% in 2015 (according to the IFPI) the picture that is emerging is one of, at worst, sustained growth, at best, accelerating growth.
Although the major label numbers have to be interpreted with caution due to factors such as Minimum Revenue Guarantees (MRGs) – see my previous post for much more detail on this – the headline trend is growth. However, headline growth is not necessarily a reflection of how most of the market is actually performing. In fact, a forensic examination of these numbers cross referenced against reported Apple Music and Spotify numbers reveals that the outlook for the rest of the pack is very different indeed.