Today's post is a special guest contribution by Sensor Tower's VP of Operations, Jeff Yates.
With Apple's acquisition of Beats Music last year, and today's launch of a new streaming music service, the world is poised to listen and change. While Apple is considered to be a strong favorite to come out on top of the streaming music competition, the timing of the winners and losers is never quite as clear as the pundits may have you think.
There's nothing like good hard data to back up your market assessment, identify the bodies before they hit the ground, and shore up your competitive positioning if you are in the fight with other apps in this space.
To that end, we've taken Sensor Tower's Store Intelligence product for a spin,* to size up the "pre-fight" positioning of the major contenders. We'll revisit the arena again in a month or so, to see how things have panned out.
Note: For our leading metric, we've focused on download counts rather than revenue. Many streaming music services monetize outside of the Apple eco-system, and we want to make sure we're comparing apples to apples.
There's no shortage of streaming audio and music-related apps for iOS and Android, so we used a combination of good old internet review analysis, as well as the top and trending features from Store Intelligence, to build our initial seed list of apps to research.
Next, we added these apps to Sensor Tower's Store Intelligence platform to see how they performed over the past year.
Our list is broken into two parts, based primarily on daily download rates. Apps that are considered Top Tier averaged over 10K downloads per day. The rest, we put into our second tier.
For those with access to Sensor Tower's Store Intelligence Platform, here are two URLs that capture this top and second tier collection of apps:
Looking at our top tier players in the run up to June 30, here are our chief observations:
Spotify has maintained a steady global climb in downloads.
Several top contenders (Spotify, Beats, Pandora) received a solid boost around the December 25th holiday in 2014.
Beats Music saw a strong initial jump into the fray with its January 2014 launch. This success was followed by various spikes that perhaps relate to Apple's follow-on announcement of its acquisition in March 2014, and subsequent closure of that deal in August 2014. Nevertheless, Beats has not yet established definitive growth.
SoundCloud has maintained modest, but steady, growth - probably because of its very broad global reach.
The second tier streaming music and audio apps are a bit less dynamic since the start of last year, but a few changes stand out.
Rdio downloads have definitely dropped off, despite a number of strong jumps in the first 3 quarters of 2014. Though it's been a prouplar favorite, and had a strong start, Rdio has definitely languished since the start of 2015.
Guvera Music appears to be on a sporadic though clear climb up, probably driven predominantly from growth outside the US.
Google Play Music continues to make gradual, though modest inroads on the iOS platform. Not to worry - Apple plans to do the same thing with its streaming music service in Q4 2015, via an app on Android.
How do things shape up when looking only at the United States, which is Apple's home turf? Here's what we saw for our top tier streaming music and audio apps.
Pandora currently leads the pack in US-only downloads, with Spotify close behind.
Finally, we looked at Apple-managed activity in the App Store, to see if this revealed any bias against streaming music apps competing directly with Apple's new service.
Fortunately, Sensor Tower's iOS App Profile Pages provide a comprehensive look at how, when, and what apps are featured in the App Store.
Spotify's featuring has recently dropped quite a bit, and is now only being featured in 2 instances per day. In the past, Spotify was regularly featured in 10-20 instances per day. Upon close inspection, we can see that these features were only provided in App Stores outside of the U.S., and North America in general.
Spotify's featuring has definitely languished in the App Store over the last few months, and especially the last few days, despite the app's strong download growth globally and in the U.S.
The impact of Apple's new streaming music service is certain to be seen in the months ahead. Since it will not be manifested as a standalone app (it is part of iOS 8.4), we may only be able to assess its impact via the downward pressure on other apps in its category.
Time will tell, but without a doubt, the top contenders are set for a strong fight, with plenty of dedicated fans lining up behind their favorite apps. It may be inevitable that Apple will come out on top, on iOS at least. But the strong momentum of Spotify (globally), Pandora (in the U.S.), and SoundCloud (a strong and steady force) will make for a great show.
Interested in learning more about how to get download and revenue estimates for mobile apps? Schedule a Store Intelligence demo with our team, and we'll show you how!
Thank you to Sensor Tower's VP of Operations, Jeff Yates, for this special edition guest post!