The figure was revealed by Apple executive Eddy Cue in an interview with USA Today. “We’re thrilled with the numbers so far,” said Cue, who added that 2m of those trialists have opted for the service’s family plan rather than an individual account.
How do Apple’s figures compare to its music-streaming rivals? Spotify has 75 million active users, with 20 million of them paying for its premium service, and the rest listening for free.
Other rivals include Deezer (16 million active users and 6 million subscribers), Rhapsody/Napster (3 million subscribers), Tidal (770,000 subscribers) and Google Play Music and Rdio (which have not announced figures).
The danger in such comparisons is that Apple Music is still in its three-month free trial period. The figures released by Apple cover people who have tried the service, but they have not yet been prompted to pay for it.
Only once that starts happening on 30 September will Apple and its music industry partners start to understand how successful Apple Music is likely to be.
“Assuming all the trial memberships are converted into paying customers come October, Apple would already boast half the paid memberships of reigning streaming champ Spotify,” noted USA Today. Quite the assumption.
If anything, 11 million seems like quite a low figure, given other stats like Apple’s 800 million iTunes account holders, or the hundreds of millions of iOS devices in use in the 100+ countries where Apple Music launched on 30 June.
The 2 million family-plan signups is the unknown element for now: those users are able to add up to five extra family members to their accounts, who will not show up in the 11 million figure. So Apple Music has more “listeners” than 11 million, but we do not yet know how many more.
Music labels and publishers are keen for Apple Music to fuel a surge in the global number of music-streaming subscribers beyond the 41 million reported by industry body the IFPI at the end of 2014, rather than simply attract existing subscribers from Spotify and other rivals.
Apple Music’s launch has encountered a number of challenges, starting with strong criticism of the company by independent labels and Taylor Swift over its plans not to pay royalties during the free-trial period - and a subsequent u-turn over the policy by Apple.
The service has also been criticised for its quality. The Loop blogger Jim Dalrymple, who is not usually seen as an Apple-basher, wrote a widely-shared Apple Music is a Nightmare and I’m Done With It article slamming bugs in the service, including the deletion of thousands of previously-purchased songs from his collection.
However, Apple Music has also won praise from early reviewers for the quality of its programmed playlists, as well as for its Beats 1 radio station.
The company has pushed out an iOS and iTunes update to solve some of the early bugs, and this week began offering some Beats 1 shows to stream on-demand, rather than forcing people to tune in live.
Spotify has been making its own product moves, expanding into video and adding features for runners in May, before launching a “Discover Weekly” playlist of new songs personalised to every user in July.
In the USA Today interview, Cue added that Apple’s App Store generated $1.7bn of transactions in July – a new record – taking its total payments to iOS developers to $33bn.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Thursday 6th August 2015 07.16 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010