Apple’s burgeoning streaming music service just passed a big milestone. It now has more than 10 million paying subscribers—after just six months, the Financial Times has reported. Apple’s biggest competitor in the market, Spotify, took almost six years to reach the same goal.
Apple Music launched in June of 2015 and was the company’s first foray into the paid streaming market—a move that was an attempt to keep people within the iTunes ecosystem. Since Spotify launched a streaming music service in Europe in 2008 (followed by a U.S. launch in 2011), users have been slowly turning to streaming music services to get their songs as opposed to Apple’s once dominant a la carte iTunes music store model. Instead of buying each song for $1.29 in iTunes, Apple Music allows individual users to listen to virtually its entire catalog for $9.99 a month.
But before it even launched, Apple Music got off to a rocky start. Pop megastar Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to the company criticizing its stance on paying royalties to artists during a user’s 90-day free trial period. Apple originally had planned to not pay artists royalties when users streamed songs during free trial periods, something Swift and others in the industry said would especially hurt up-and-coming artists. A day later, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, announced that Apple had reversed its decision and would now pay artists royalties during free trials.
The news of the 10 million subscriber milestone is welcome news for Apple, which many say needs to find new revenue streams as the iPhone matures as a product and people get used to consuming their media via new technologies. Apple last confirmed Apple Music had 6.5 million paying subscribers in October 2015. The 3.5 million subscription jump was larger than most had anticipated over the holidays and Apple Music was expected to have 8 million paying subscribers by the end of 2015.
With the latest growth of Apple Music subscriptions, the company is set to have over 20 million paying subscribers sometime in late 2016. If it achieves that goal, it could well become the largest paid music streaming service in the world. Currently Spotify holds that crown with over 20 million paying subscribers, a figure it last updated before Apple Music’s launch in June. Upon news of Apple Music’s 10 million subscriber milestone, Spotify told Business Insider that the company has had its fastest paid subscriber growth ever in the second half of 2015, without being more specific. However, if their subscriber growth rate has not kept pace with Apple Music’s, it’s possible Apple could reach the title of largest streaming music provider well before the end of the year.