Music Streaming Yet to Prove Premium Worth

Continuing our series on music streaming, today’s chart looks at whether its popularity is matched by the rate of people paying.

For every music streamer who pays, there are 3.6 who don’t, preferring a free trial or ad-supported service. Streaming may be more popular than ever, but there’s a lag in converting these listeners to paying listeners. As well as freemium tiers, account sharing has a role in this.

Diving into the users for each service, paid-for services like Apple Music and Tidal see the highest levels of sharing, allowing friends and family to access them without paying for an account.

Family plans and bundles may be the reason why older internet users are more likely to share their accounts on those services. Younger users may be able to benefit from family accounts, but they’re also the most likely to pay for premium access. This difference may arise from older users stating more of a preference for owning music outright rather than accessing it through a streaming service in our data.

By putting a spotlight on Apple Music and Spotify, we can see that their rivalry can overlook cross-platform engagement with them, and what that suggests about the needs for premium offerings.

30% of Apple Music listeners also listen to Spotify, while 18% of Spotify users listen to the rival service. From our music attitudes data, we know that music fans are keen to attend live gigs, like being among the first to discover new artists, and crucially, prefer a wide range of artists.

With this level of cross-platform interaction, streamers are picking different content and features from different services to create the ultimate streaming service and content library. Streaming services may benefit from thinking harder about what premium should mean, beyond providing the basic needs.