When Apple launched Apple Music five years ago, on June 30, 2015, many people thought it would be a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Apple would catch up with and eventually surpass Spotify. Apple’s financial and marketing power combined with an installed base of hundreds of millions of iOS devices seemed like a tough combination to beat for the Swedish music streaming pioneers.
And yet, ever since Apple launched its own streaming service halfway through 2015, Spotify has managed to keep Apple Music at arm’s length. If anything, Spotify appears to be pulling away from Apple Music in terms of paid subscribers. As the following chart illustrates, the gap between the two streaming services has gradually widened from 20 million when Apple Music was launched to roughly 60 million by March 2020.
While Apple hasn't publicly commented on its subscriber count since reaching 60 million in June 2019, estimates from MIDiA Research put Apple Music subscribers at 72 million for Q1 2020. Meanwhile Spotify, which reports its subscriber number on a quarterly basis, reached 130 million paid subscribers by the end of March.