Streaming music and the battle of the services have been hot topics in the music industry for some time now, with market leaders Spotify and Apple Music now contending with a slew of new competitors in the space, including Amazon, Pandora and iHeart. A new study from research and consultant company Parks Associates indicated today that Amazon’s Prime Music service — bundled with its wider Prime membership package, but with a fraction of the song catalog of its bigger competitors — saw subscribers increase 50 percent in 2016, and actually leads the market share among U.S. broadband households at 15 percent, or nearly one-half of all streaming music subscribers.
Amazon has thus far declined to reveal the number of Amazon Prime subscribers (though some have estimated it at 66 million; while others has put it much lower) making the number of users of Prime Music — which is free to Prime subscribers — difficult to ascertain. But other numbers indicated in the study can provide some context; Parks Associates reports that Spotify had almost doubled its subscribers base over the previous year to seven percent of U.S. broadband households, or less than half of Prime Music’s user base.
Spotify claims 40 million subscribers to its premium service, but that’s a global number, making it difficult to compare to Amazon’s U.S.-only figures, and without an overall total number of how many U.S. broadband households the report is referring to it remains unclear how many users Prime Music actually has.
“Amazon’s bundled service model has been a successful strategy in boosting the company’s status in multiple content verticals,” said Parks Associates senior analyst Glenn Hower in a statement. “The number of households with access to Amazon’s music services through a Prime subscription is higher, as 28 percent of broadband households indicate they subscribe to Amazon Prime Video, so the number of streaming music subscribers likely reflects actual usage of the streaming music portion of Amazon’s service.”
The study also found that streaming subscribers increased from 26 percent in 2015 to 33 percent in 2016, and that Apple Music, SiriusXM and YouTube all “experienced modest adoption increases during this time,” suggesting at the very least that a significant number of Apple Music’s 10 million additional subscribers last year came from outside the United States. (Apple’s Eddy Cue, in announcing that Apple Music had reached 20 million subscribers, told Billboard in December that more than 50 percent of its subscribers are from outside the U.S.) Subscriber numbers for Pandora and Google Play largely remained static year-over-year.
One important note about Amazon, of course, is that they recently launched Amazon Music Unlimited, a full-service, tens-of-millions-of-songs-catalog streaming option that aims to compete alongside Spotify and Apple for the streaming market, and is offered at several reduced rates for Amazon customers.
A rep for Parks Associates did not respond to a request for clarification on the number of U.S. broadband households as of press time. Additionally, Amazon did not return a request for comment at press time.