A Global Snapshot of Android's Top Music Apps, and a Glimpse Into Digital Listening's Future

The following is a guest post by Tyler Hayes, Cheetah Mobile’s U.S. communications manager.

When Apple unveiled its new streaming music service to iOS users on June 30, it also promised the service would be coming to Android sometime in the fall -- a meaningful gesture considering its hostility towards Android in the past. The move indicated that Apple intends to continue competing heavily in the music industry, as consumers transition from buying and downloading music to streaming and renting it.

Cheetah Mobile is in a unique position to provide context around the current landscape of music apps and streaming services across the Android ecosystem and the challenges Apple may face.

Our most popular app, Clean Master -- an app which helps users take control of their phone by enabling junk file cleaning, CPU cooling, photo management, and individual app passcode with AppLock, among other features -- has a massive userbase that includes hundreds of millions of installed apps all over the world. Additionally, our entire app catalog is very diverse with 71 percent of users (outside of China).

(It's important to note that data privacy is Cheetah Mobile's main concern, which is why no personal or private data is ever passed back to us. The data that is collected as part of junk file cleaning is always completely anonymous. It's how we can tell app usage -- the number of times an app is opened -- but why we don't know the length of time the app is used each time. We don't want to know your personal information inside the app.)

On iOS, the only way (without modifying the OS through jailbreaking) to get apps installed is by using the App Store. On Android, however, it's not guaranteed that a mobile phone will ship with the Google Play store. Xiaomi, for example, one of the world's largest phone manufacturers, includes its own app store rather than Google Play in its phones. That's why our list of top installed music apps provides a good overall representation of real-world use.

Looking At Music Apps On Android

If the Beats Music app which launched in January 2014 (Apple acquired it in May 2014) is any indication of the challenge ahead for Apple's new service on Android, it will be a tough road. Beats Music shows up as a top 20 music app in the U.S., but not when looking at the top 20 worldwide. 

Beats Music doesn’t show up in the 10 most-used music apps in the U.S. -- it's number 12. However, Beats Music usage does skew very heavily towards the U.S. market. The top 5 usage markets for Beats Music is listed below. Outside of the U.S., usage drops off pretty substantially, which is why only 5 markets are listed.

It's tough to tell if Beats Music had a particularly hard time getting traction with Apple acquiring it soon after launch. The breaks may have been put on following the acquisition and internal transition to Apple.

Google Play Music may not be talked about as much as other music services (in the U.S.), but it has a high usage ranking. Rdio, on the other hand, often gets compared to Spotify in reviews or news stories, but it doesn’t appear in any of the top app lists or rankings based on usage.

Guvera, Saavn, QQMusic, Gaana, and even Deezer may not be familiar to the U.S. market, but worldwide they're still an important part of the music conversation. In the case of Saavn and Gaana, these fill the desire for a specialized type of music service.

Beyond just usage, it's worth looking at how all these music apps are connected. We looked at what other music apps users tend to also have installed when they use ones like Pandora, Spotify, Shazam, SoundCloud, and iHeartRadio. Music apps, both streaming services and other types, aren't exclusive -- users install and use lots of different kinds. A lot of these apps attack different aspects of listening to or interacting with music.

The music industry is no longer defined solely by a single store or way of discovering music. With mobile and the new app economy, music is now completely customizable and unique. People can discover new music through karaoke apps or video services. This is a glimpse and good overview at what the new music industry looks like as it continues to transition to its future.