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Apple Music hits 38M subscribers, up 2M in a month

At SXSW, Apple exec Eddy Cue says the world has 2 billion music subscribers up for grabs -- and Apple Music and Spotify account for only 100 million.

Apple Music on iPhone

Some of the options Apple Music offers.

James Martin/CNET

Apple Music has hit 38 million subscribers, up by 2 million in just over one month. 

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president for internet software and services, announced the new number for the music streaming service at the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals. At SXSW, he also talked about Apple's acquisition of Texture, a distributor of digital magazines.

Apple resisted the subscription streaming music model for years as its iTunes music app dominated sales of digitally downloaded music. But as streaming music grew to become the main way people listen and pay for music today, Apple Music ramped up with more subscribers than any other competitors -- except Spotify. 

Spotify has 71 million paying members and 159 million people who use the service at least once a month, the company said last month in its filing to become a publicly traded company. Spotify enjoys an advantage with a free, ad-supported tier that rivals like Apple Music lack. To lure in members, Apple Music has leaned on heavy marketing and exclusives for hit albums, as well as the crucial benefit of the millions of iPhones in consumers' pockets. 

During his appearance at SXSW, Cue outlined a huge pot of streaming music subscriptions still up for grabs. He said the world has about 2 billion potential subscribers who have both the access and the means to pay for streaming music, but Apple Music and Spotify's subscribers have only reached a little more than 100 million combined. 

He also batted away another suggestion that Apple might buy Netflix, even as it ramps up a huge apparatus to produce its own original shows and movies. Cue said that Apple is "completely all in" on its content plans, which includes a $1 billion budget for originals. But asked if Apple, which has a gigantic $283.1 billion in cash reserves, would buy a media production giant like Netflix or Disney, Cue dismissed the idea, saying the company isn't chasing "quantity."

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