Spotify breaks 100 million paid subscribers, holding lead over Apple Music

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Spotify on Monday revealed that it has topped 100 million paid subscribers worldwide, putting it twice as far ahead as Apple Music, albeit with a years-long headstart.

Premium subscribers grew 32 percent year-over-year in the March quarter, Spotify said. Total listenership reached 217 million people, aided by 2 million in India, who've only been able to sign up since February.

The Swedish firm is aiming for between 222 and 228 million listeners by the end of the current quarter. Of those, 107 to 110 million are forecast to be on Premium.

The company reported $158.3 million in losses, but recently acquired three separate podcasting firms: Anchor, Gimlet Media, and Parcast. Apple has traditionally enjoyed a lead role in podcasts thanks to iTunes, but Spotify said it intends to build a better ad model with superior "targeting, measurement, and reporting capabilities."

Smartspeakers are another focus, Spotify mentioned, without commenting on rumors that it's developing first-party hardware. The service is a native option on Amazon Alexa- and Google Home-compatible speakers, though not on Apple's HomePod, where only Apple Music has full Siri control.

Spotify was the first major on-demand music platform, launching in 2008. Apple Music has enjoyed relatively rapid growth — its 50 million users have appeared since just 2015, aided by default integration across Apple devices. It recently surpassed Spotify Premium in the U.S., even if ad-based listeners continue to give Spotify an overall advantage in listener base.

The two companies are engaged in a legal war in Europe, where Spotify recently launched a competition complaint with the European Commission. Apple has established artificial barriers to competition, Spotify charges, pointing to the fact that it takes 15% to 30% from third-party App Store subscriptions, simultaneously denying those parties the same level of integration as Apple Music. In its defense Apple has argued that Spotify wants "all those benefits [of the App Store] while also retaining 100 percent of the revenue."