Apple Music Available for U.K. and Ireland Alexa Echo Users As It is Announced That Apple Music has More U.S. Subscribers than Spotify
Last week it was announced that U.K. and Ireland residents can now ask Alexa Echo devices and the Amazon Fire TV to play music from Apple Music. Apple Music was made available to U.S. Echo devices users about three months ago at the start of 2019. The WSJ is also reporting (N.B. Paywall) that the number of U.S. Apple Music subscribers has surpassed U.S. Spotify subscribers. Users can set up the integration from the Alexa app by going to Settings -> Music -> Link New Service. Saying something along the lines of “Play today’s hits on Apple Music” or “Play [artist] on Apple Music” will invoke the feature.
Apple Music U.S. Subscribers Surpass U.S. Spotify Subscribers After Apple Music Comes to U.S. Echo Devices
Apple and Amazon initially announced in November that Apple Music would become available to U.S. users through Amazon Alexa in December 2018. The Wall Street Journal reports that “people familiar with the matter” have said as of February 2019 Apple Music now has more than 28 million paid subscribers, compared to Spotify which has 26 million subscribers. The same sources also state that Apple Music is growing at a faster rate (2.6 – 3 percent) in the U.S. than Spotify (1.5 – 2 percent). The introduction of Apple Music to the largest smart speaker installed base could certainly be a factor in the increased growth rate of Apple Music, especially when considering that listening to a streaming music service is the most popular daily and monthly use case of smart speakers.
Voicebot research from the 2019 U.S. Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report found that the U.S. Adult Smart Speaker Installed Base rose 39.8% from 2018, now at 66.4 million people. Voicebot research also found that the Amazon Echo Dot is the leading smart speaker by user count, alone holding 31.4% of smart speaker users. In addition, all Amazon Alexa Echo devices combined (the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Plus, Spot, and Echo Show) hold 61.1% of smart speaker users.
Increased Adoption of Smart Speakers in the U.K. Could Lead to Even Higher Apple Music Subscriber Count
In January 2019, eMarketer reported that smart speaker adoption doubled in the U.K. in 2018, rising to 9.5 million monthly active users. In the U.K., Amazon holds the dominant market share at 68%, and eMarketer is also expecting monthly smart speaker users to rise to 12.6 million in 2019. U.K. smart speaker usage is reported to have grown by 98.6% in 2018.
All of this data underscores Apple’s rollout of features to U.K. and Ireland residents as a smart strategy to grow its Music platform. Apple is taking advantage of Amazon’s dominant hold over the smart speaker market share in order to compete with its biggest rival, Spotify. Even Spotify recognizes the potential to increase subscribers with smart speakers, last year running a campaign to give away a free Google Home Mini to family plan account holders ($14.99/mo), this year saying that the promo helped raise their premium subscribers by 11%. As Apple works to keep up with Spotify, it will be interesting to watch both services grow as voice assistant adoption grows.