Music Streaming App Revenue and Usage Statistics (2022)

David Curry

Updated: May 4, 2022

Music streaming has its roots in the peer-to-peer file sharing industry. Napster, Limewire and BitTorrent were at the forefront of changing the way people thought about music, and while they only lasted a few years before being taken down for unauthorised use of copyright material, it moved the industry towards new forms of accessibility.

Apple’s iTunes store and iPod launched in 2001 and the success of the device was seen as a potential step forward from Napster, which had been forcibly closed down that same year, however, the internet was still rife with free music downloaders.

By the mid-2000s, Pandora and Spotify had both launched, which both tried to reshape the cost of music. Instead of paying for the song, Pandora and Spotify would pay a much smaller amount per stream to the record company.

This fundamentally changed how music is valued. Instead of sales, the emphasis was on repeated listens and getting a song in a popular playlist or radio station. The music industry shunned the new platforms at the start, with several artists blocking Spotify and Pandora from using their material.

YouTube also got its start in 2005 and by 2010 it was the most popular video service in the world, overtaking MTV and other channels as the premier place to watch music videos. Major music labels launched VEVO in 2009 as a way to control the distribution and revenue share of music videos on YouTube.

Even with the poor reception from the music industry, YouTube, Pandora and Spotify continued to grow in users. But it wouldn’t be until the mid-2010s that music streaming became the dominant revenue generator for music labels, surpassing physical and digital.

Apple Music launched in 2015, further verifying streaming as the future of digital music.

In 2021, music streaming is far ahead of other forms of music distribution, however this has led to some artists losing income and having to find new ways to stay relevant. For some, that means more tours, merchandise and other fan interactions.

We have collected data and statistics on the music streaming sector. Read on below to find out more.

Top music streaming apps

Spotify The most popular music streaming platform in the world, with over 350 million users and 150 million subscribers
Apple Music Once the leader in digital music, Apple Music is behind Spotify in overall users but ahead in some countries 
Amazon Music Amazon has quietly built up its userbase through Amazon Prime subscribers, with 55 million using the service 
YouTube Far ahead of all others in total usage with two billion users, but behind Spotify and Apple in paid subscribers
Pandora One of the oldest streaming platforms still going, popular in the US with car drivers as an alternative to radio 
SoundCloud A popular streaming platform for independent and undiscovered artists, which has seen limited monetary success
Tidal Once marketed as the pro-artist music streaming platform, it is now owned by payment processing firm Square
Tencent Music Tencent has three apps in China for music streaming: KuGou, QQ and Kuwo, which are the leaders in the category
Gaana Music India’s most popular music streaming platform, with 185 million monthly active users

Music streaming revenue

Revenue from music streaming has increased every year since inception. From 2014, it has grew at an average rate of 43.9% and become the primary revenue source for most music labels.

Global music streaming revenue

Year Revenue
2012 $1 billion
2013 $1.4 billion
2014 $1.9 billion
2015 $2.8 billion
2016 $4.7 billion
2017 $6.8 billion
2018 $9.9 billion
2019 $13.8 billion
2020 $18.9 billion

Music streaming revenue (US)

Year Revenue
2015 $2.3 billion
2016 $4 billion
2017 $5.7 billion
2018 $7.3 billion
2019 $8.9 billion
2020 $10.1 billion

Source: RIAA

Music streaming income vs other formats

Music streaming is the dominant format in the US, with 83% of revenue coming from the format. Percentages are lower in Europe and Asia, although all countries are increasingly adopting streaming as their primary format for music listening.

Music streaming marketshare

Spotify is the platform for about a third of all music streaming listeners worldwide, with Apple Music in second place. Tencent and Netease are the two key platforms in China, despite Spotify and Apple Music not being blocked by the Chinese government.

Music streaming subscribers by app

As one of the first music streaming platforms, Spotify had over 50 million subscribers before Apple had launched its own platform. It has kept this lead, although marketshare has declined as more services have launched.

Music streaming subscribers 2020

App Subscribers
Spotify 165 million
Apple Music 88 million
Amazon Music 70 million
YouTube Premium 50 million
Deezer 7 million
Pandora 6 million
Tidal 3 million

Music streaming users by app

In terms of usage, YouTube is far ahead of other platforms, with two billion active users who listen to music. Tencent’s various music platforms in China have over 800 million users, while Spotify free and paid users total 381 million.

Music streaming subscribers (US)

Year Revenue
2016 $22.7 million
2017 $35.3 million
2018 $46.9 million
2019 $60.4 million
2020 $75.5 million

Source: RIAA

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.