If the current digital music trend remains the same, then it’s good news for Spotify, Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (SIRI), and Apple Inc. (AAPL), and bad news for Pandora Media, Inc. (P).

As of this month, there are more than 100 million paid streaming music subscribers worldwide, according to Digital Music News. Some people within the industry believe that once that number reaches 200 million, it will lead to an acceleration of new signups that will result in the eventual end for ad-based streaming music services.

The numbers below are according to Digital Music News:

Streaming Music Service

# Of Paid Subscribers


39.0 million

Sirius Satellite Radio

30.6 million

Apple Music

17.0 million


6.0 million


4.0 million

Rhapsody (+ Napster)

3.5 million


3.0 million

Spotify, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Apple Music account for 85% of the entire paid subscriber market. It should also be noted that despite Apple Music being in third place at this time, it’s adding approximately 1 million new subscribers per month, which gives it the potential to close the gap between Sirius and Spotify in relatively short order.

Another important point here is that if Apple can generate this much interest on its own in approximately one year, then it’s not going to acquire Pandora. Any potential acquirer of Pandora who sees the numbers above and recognizes the trend in the industry is not likely to make an offer. Either Pandora figures out how to attain more paid subscribers or it’s going to face significant challenges.

Emmanuel Zunz, CEO of digital music distributor ONErpm recently told Digital Music News, “If we have 100 million or 200 million paying subscribers, then you can probably afford to move away from ad-supported. At a certain point you can afford to shut it off, you can afford to say, ‘okay, no more free streaming’.”  

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