Who’s paying for Apple Music?

October 20, 2015, 12:51 PM UTC
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, gestures while responding to questions on October 19, 2015 in Laguna Beach, California at the opening of the 2015 WSJD Live. The event brings together top CEOs, founders, pioneers, investors and luminaries to explore the most exciting tech opportunities emerging around the world. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Frederic J. Brown — AFP/Getty Images

The Apple Music numbers Tim Cook announced Monday night—15 million subscribers, 6.5 million paid—are roughly in line with a pair of survey results Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research e-mailed his subscribers a few days earlier.

But Dawson’s analysis goes deeper. His samples were small (200 and 500 subjects, respectively), but they offer the most detail we’ve seen so far about who is still using Apple’s streaming music service at the end of the 3-month free trial, and why.

Among his findings:

  • Younger people were more likely to sign up, whereas older people were more likely to pay
  • Users who were interested in discovering new music were more likely to become paying customers
  • Getting users to switch from competing services like Pandora and Spotify is proving tough
  • Discovery, integration with iOS, and access to music they already owned were the features people liked most


Two of his published charts are particularly instructive. The first shows the status of Apple Music subscriptions by age. Note how much bigger the gray “now paying” bar is for the 65+ crowd compared with users between the ages of 18 of 25.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 8.15.51 AM


The second chart ranked the features listeners said they cared most about. Younger listeners tend to be more interested in discovering new music. Older listeners search for music they already know they like.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.37.14 AM

Curiously, music sharing, one of Apple Music’s tentpole features, is a relatively low priority across all age groups.

Apple Music, Dawson concluded, is off to a “decent” but not spectacular start.

Still, Apple managed to rack up more than 6.5 million paying customers in three and a half months. By comparison, it took Spotify nearly seven years to reach 20 million. Most of Spotify’s 75 million listeners are still streaming their music for free.

After three months, free is not an option on Apple Music.


Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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