forecast on digital music listeners, the number of Spotify listeners surpassed those of Pandora two years sooner than predicted in our March 2019 forecast.
In 2019, Spotify grew by 25.8% to 65.4 million US listeners, surpassing Pandora which had been the dominant music streaming platform in the US since its launch in 2000. eMarketer defines listeners as internet users of any age who listen to Pandora or Spotify on any device at least once per month.
Spotify will continue to experience growth in 2020, gaining more than 10 million listeners year over year. By the end of 2020, we expect Spotify to reach 75.9 million listeners.
Spotify’s rapid growth can be attributed to a few key business decisions. In 2019, Spotify acquired multiple podcast companies, which resulted in more content on the platform. Following these acquisitions, Spotify made its podcast content more prominent by applying its recommendation algorithms and featuring them in more places. Additionally, Spotify partnered with Google Home Mini, Hulu and Samsung devices, offering deals that have allowed it to reach more listeners.
“Thanks to a great user experience and strong discovery features, Spotify has added listeners to its free and premium services a lot quicker than we expected,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Peter Vahle. “In 2019, Spotify focused on adding and curating podcast content, which was largely successful in driving engagement and appealing to a wider range of listeners.”
Conversely, Pandora has been losing listeners since its peak in 2014. At the end of 2019, Pandora had 63.1 million listeners, down 8.1% over 2018. Although Pandora will remain the second-largest platform in terms of listeners through 2024, it will continue to see a listener decline throughout that time.
Meanwhile, Apple and Amazon added listeners in 2019 but have much smaller listener bases than Pandora and Spotify. Amazon Music had 38.7 million listeners in 2019, up 27.0%, which is slightly above Spotify’s 25.8% growth. Much of Amazon Music’s growth can be attributed to the many music streaming options it offers—ad-supported, Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited and Amazon Music HD—in addition to the increasing popularity of its Echo smart speakers. In 2020, Amazon Music will grow by 12.0% reaching 43.3 million listeners.