Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is closing in on music streaming leader Spotify (SPOT) and Apple (AAPL), now in second place, revealing for the first time that it has tens of millions of paid subscribers, a number that is growing at a fast rate.
Steve Boom, vice president of Amazon Music told Billboard that Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions have more than doubled during the course of the last six months and that it has tens of millions of customers. Boom said the growth is being driven by an uptick in the number of Amazon Prime customers and the growth of smart speakers like its line of Echo devices powered by its voice-activated digital assistant Alexa. He said that while lots of the news coverage predicts streaming music via smart speakers will become the norm in the future, it's actually happening now. “We wouldn't have grown to this scale if it hadn't been happening already," Boom told Billboard.
The executive’s comments about Amazon’s streaming music service come just as leading music streaming provider Spotify launched its IPO this week. But Spotify doesn’t have a voice-activated smart speaker line, which is where Boom thinks Amazon can drive more subscribers to its music service. He said the smart speakers have given the Seattle, Washington e-commerce giant an untapped group of music streamers, which is where most of the new paid subscriptions are coming from. The executive noted that it's both older listeners who tend to be slower to embrace new technologies as well as country music listeners, a demographic that hasn’t been quick to move to streaming music.
Amazon Music claims country songs are streamed 2.5 times more frequently on its platform than on others. Boom told Billboard that the goal is to expand the streaming market, not to go after the same demographics that other streaming services are targeting. "The technology itself is so simple that we don't just rely on those people who I would say are early tech adopters, which has been where a lot of growth in music streaming has been because it's been wrapped up inside of a smartphone. Not everybody wants to listen to music on a smartphone, it turns out," he said.