With all the fuss over streaming video services over the past six months, streaming music has been shuffled into the background somewhat. But streaming music remains big business that’s getting bigger.
Last year, it made up 80% of the music industry’s revenue, and added $4.3 billion to record company coffers in the first half of the year alone.
Some companies like Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) have built their entire business around streaming music. Others, like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), see monthly subscribers as a growing source of recurring revenue that also helps to boost sales of hardware, including headphones and smart speakers.
A recent report shows just how intense the battle for streaming subscribers can be, with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) rapidly gaining ground on Spotify and Apple Music. With Amazon growing its Amazon Music Unlimited subscriber base by over 70% in 2019, here’s the current standing for the top five streaming music stocks, worldwide, from first to last position.
Biggest Streaming Music Stocks: Spotify (SPOT)
Spotify remains the leader, with a commanding 36% of global streaming music subscribers. Last April, the company was the first to hit 100 million paid subscribers. Today, the company says it has a total of 227 million users, with 124 million of those paying a monthly subscription fee.
In 2019, that translated to revenue of $7.44 billion for SPOT, up 29% over 2018. SPOT stock rose nearly 33% in 2019.
Apple Music is a big part of the Services division that Apple is increasingly looking to for recurring revenue. Shifting its revenue mix to services reduces the impact when big ticket hardware products like the iPhone see declining sales. At the same time, the popularity of Apple Music helps the company sell hardware, including AirPods and the HomePod.
In Q2, Apple’s Service division accounted for $12.72 billion in revenue, lagging behind only the iPhone ($55.96 billion) in importance to the company.
At last count, Apple Music had over 60 million paying subscribers, putting it in second place, globally.
Amazon made headlines in January when a report put 2019 growth for its Amazon Music Unlimited streaming music services at over 70%. Amazon offers five tiers of streaming music, including Amazon Music Unlimited (the best comparison to Apple Music and Spotify), the audiophile Amazon Music HD and Amazon Music for Prime.
That amounts to a current total topping 55 million subscribers, putting it at third place. It’s also within shooting distance of second place to Apple Music, although Apple hasn’t updated its numbers since last summer, and Amazon is including the free services in its totals.
Like Apple, Amazon is looking to streaming music subscribers to pad its recurring revenue. It also uses streaming music to help sell Echo smart speakers.
China’s Tencent (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) operates a music division called Tencent Music Entertainment (TME). The multiple streaming music services operated by TME are estimated to have a 10% global share of paid music subscribers. That’s good enough for fourth place.
In Q3, TME reported it had added 4.4 million new paying customers. That brought its total to 35.4 million and quarterly streaming music subscription revenue of $132 million — up 48.3% year-over-year.
In addition to its ownership of TME, Tencent also holds a 9.1% stake in Spotify.
Unlike the top three (Spotify, Apple and Amazon), Google has struggled to grow its paid subscriber base for its streaming music services. At this point, it’s in fifth place, with an estimated 5% share of global music subscribers.
However, plans to convert Google Play Music subscribers to YouTube Music accounts, and pre-installing the YouTube Music app on Android Q devices could kickstart that adoption.
With an estimated 3.5 billion smartphones currently in active use globally, that means under 10% currently subscribe to a streaming music service. That leaves a lot of potential revenue on the table.
Expect all of these and the other streaming music services to continue to battle to sign up as many of those smartphone owners as possible.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.