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Apple Music now boasts 20 million subscribers, and more than half are outside the U.S.

Apple Music continues to amass new paid subscribers, but Apple is not done growing the service just yet.

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed that Apple Music now has 20 million paid subscribers, up from 17 million in September. More than half of Apple Music’s subscribers reside outside the U.S., according to Apple. But Apple’s senior VP of Internet software and services Eddy Cue told Billboard magazine that there’s still room to grow—especially when to comes to catching up to Spotify’s 40 million paid subscribers.

“Of course we want more [subscribers] and we want it to go faster—we’re hungry!” Cue said. “We can’t forget that, as an industry, we still have very few music subscribers. There are billions of people listening to music and we haven’t even hit 100 million subscribers. There’s a lot of growth opportunity.”

Spotify, the leading player in streaming music, has hit 100 million users, but only 40 million are actual paid subscribers. The majority listen to Spotify’s free, ad-supported tier, which has been a contentious issue within the music industry. However, Cue said there’s room for both services to co-exist, and even for incoming players like Amazon and Pandora.

“If they drive more people to pay and buy music then that’s a good thing for all of us,” Cue said. Additionally, Apple revealed that 60 percent of Apple Music subscribers have not purchased content from the iTunes Store, pointing to a shift in media consumption. But whether Apple will stop selling iTunes downloads altogether in favor of streaming is yet to be seen.

The story behind the story: Despite Cue embracing competition from other services in this interview, Apple has not been known for playing nice in the “streaming wars.”

This summer, Apple introduced a proposal that would fix the rates for songwriting royalties. The proposal would simplify the costs per stream, forcing Spotify to pony up more cash to rights holders.

Spotify has reportedly retaliated by rejecting to market artists who have signed up for an exclusive with Apple Music, and by fighting the 30 percent cut that Apple gets every month if a user subscribes to Spotify from the App Store.

IDG Insider

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