Did Apple Music really have 10m more monthly users than Spotify in March?

Get your pinch of salt ready

Spotify is generally thought of as ruling the roost when it comes to music streaming services, but a recent report has claimed that Apple Music had 10 million more monthly unique users than Spotify in March 2017 in the US. 

The report, which comes from Verto Analytics, goes on to claim that although Apple’s service has much fewer sessions per month per user (12 compared to Spotify’s 51), Apple Music is leading the way in terms of both smartphone and tablet users. 

There are a couple of things to consider when viewing reports such as this, which could explain why appears to be out of step with our anecdotal experiences. 

Unpicking the numbers

The first thing to consider is that Apple Music comes pre-installed on every iPhone, and that the service comes with a 3 month free trial. Meanwhile Spotify only gives 30 days for free. 

This disparity, combined with the fact that Spotify has much more monthly sessions, indicates that although lots of people are occasionally opening the Apple Music app, people are returning to the Spotify app much more frequently over the course of the month.

This could explain why Apple Music’s numbers are so high in this report while Spotify still appears to dominate the streaming landscape.

Secondly we should consider how Verto acquired this data. According to the company, the data comes from a panel of consumers that opt-in to installing a measurement app on their phones. If this sample is of a biased selection of users then the overall data will be inaccurate, although the company claims that they "operate statistically built consumer panels, that reflect the online population of users."

Despite Verto's claims, we're sceptical of the numbers, and so is MusicAlly, which notes that Apple claimed that it had 20 million paying subscribers in December 2016 with 50% of these located outside of the US. If both these figures are true then Apple Music would have had to have gained around 30 million users to reach the numbers reported by Verto. 

Without Verto sharing their workings we might never know where these numbers have come from, but from our perspective they should be taken with a pinch of salt.