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Apple Music ‘Well Past’ 20 Million Subscribers; Eddy Cue Says Long-Term Exclusives ‘Never Good’ for Industry

Apple Music has gone "well past" the 20 million paid subscribers that it announced late last year, but senior vp Eddy Cue wants more.

Apple Music has gone “well past” the 20 million paid subscriber mark that it announced late last year, but senior vp Eddy Cue wants more. Speaking at the Code Media conference on Monday night, Cue said the company was “thrilled” with subscriber growth, but that the “world has less than 100 million people subscribing to music, and there’s billions of people listening to music, so we still think the potential for growth is exponential. So no, we’re not satisfied and we want a lot more.”

Asked by moderator Peter Kafka how exactly they plan on attracting more subscribers, given such a competitive and crowded streaming space, Cue pulled out a non-specific “you’ve gotta keep innovating” but added that they have “a few more things we’ll be doing this year.” Whether that means more exclusives in the Drake or Chance the Rapper vein remains to be seen, but Cue then explained Apple’s strategy regarding the controversial tactic. 

“In general, I think the exclusives are promotions,” he said. “The world has always had promotions, and I think it’ll continue to do that. Our promotions with Drake have been great because we’ve done some things together like the movie, like music videos, other things that are unique, that by us working with him together from the very beginning of what he’s working on, we’re able to do unique things.”


But Cue doesn’t think long-term exclusives — see Beyonce’s still-going Lemonade arrangement on Tidal — are good for the business as a whole. “I think it’s great for the music business for there to be competition, and for subscription to grow,” he said. “That’s what’s great for the music business, and that’s what we’re doings. There are ways to do that, and we’ll try different ways. Ultimately it’s never good for the music industry if it was separated on a long term basis, but on a promotional basis, on acts that we’re doing unique [partnerships] with, I think that’s great for music.”

Watch the Apple Music chat beginning at the 20-minute mark: