Apple Music has confirmed that its streaming service has surpassed 20 million paying subscribers. The company told Billboard that it had 17 million subscribers three months ago, 13 million in April and, 11 million in February.

Apple
Image: Flickr

Spotify is still far ahead

Apple Music still lags Spotify, which has a subscriber base of over 40 million users. But Apple’s music service has been on the market for just a year and a half so far. More than 50% of its users are outside the United States, and over 60% of them have not bought anything on the iTunes store in 12 months or more.

Apple’s SVP Eddy Cue said, “The vast majority are new customers.”

Cue told Billboard that they are not going to rest here and want more and to go faster.

“We can’t forget that, as an industry, we still have very few music subscribers. There are billions of people listening to music and we haven’t even hit 100 million subscribers. There’s a lot of growth opportunity,” Cue said.

Apple’s success can be attributed to it launching many number one albums, such as Drake’s (both solo and with Future What a Time To Be Alive; Travis Scott’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight; DJ Khaled’s Major Key and more.

Exclusives will keep coming to Apple Music

Cue added that despite the mandate from Universal Music Group Chairman Lucian Grainge, exclusives will keep coming to Apple’s platform “where appropriate.” In reference to Universal Music, Cue said they work really well for everyone involved.

“It’s really about launching things,” Cue says. “Sometimes it makes sense to do that.”

Apple has outperformed its peers in the case of hip hop artists and is also influencing traditional radio and club play. Cue said the company is determined to give the hip hop genre a greater spotlight, thinking that hip hop was underrepresented both on iTunes and on streaming charts.

Cue also stated that the year has been quite good for the company.

“We were thrilled to see that we could take [artists’] passions and drive them all the way to No. 1. Chance the Rapper, who we put on Apple Music exclusively, hit the top 10 on the Billboard charts and I can’t recall that being done before.”

Cue believes that the increasing competition in the streaming music space will be good for all if the new entrants are able to compel people to buy music. Amazon and iHeartRadio have announced their plan of entering the subscription game, while Pandora also launched Pandora Premium.