Apple Music hits 17 million subscribers

Apple added 2 million customers in the last three months, the company says at its iPhone event Wednesday morning.

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Joan E. Solsman
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At an event in San Francisco Wednesday, Apple updated details on its first entertainment subscription service, Apple Music.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple Music has recruited another 2 million subscribers, hitting 17 million people, the gadget giant said Wednesday.

Spotify said last month it has 39 million subscribers, and it had more than 100 million total listeners as of June.

Competition between streaming music services has grown bitter this year. Services like Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal are battling for supremacy in the fast-growing subscription market, even as the music industry has largely insisted all services offer the same overall catalog for the same general price. Spotify has a leg up on rivals, the only service permitted to offer a free, ad-supported version.

In June, Apple Music said it has hit 15 million subscribers, half the number of bigger rival Spotify.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook also said Wednesday that Apple Music would be broadcasting episodes of "Carpool Karaoke," a recurring comedy sketch by late-night talk show host James Corden early next year. (Corden hosts "The Late Late Show" on CBS, which owns CNET.)

He touted Apple Music's exclusive releases, calling the service "the premiere destination for new artists and existing artists to launch their exclusive music." He said Apple Music has had 70 great releases from stars like Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean and Drake.

High-profile music exclusives have emerged as the weapon of choice among streaming services competing to dominate the growing market. Apple Music and smaller competitor Tidal -- owned by rapper Jay Z and a host of other big-name artists -- have turned to exclusives to combat Spotify's advantage on price.

During Apple's June presentation to developers, the gadget giant unveiled a redesign of the subscription music service "from the ground up." The update is expected to roll out later this month when Apple would typically release its new operating software for mobiles, iOS 10. The changes include making it easier to get to your own downloaded music with a "Recently Added" section, a music player that shows lyrics, and a "For You" tab that also offers up songs tailored to each listener.

Later in the presentation Wednesday in downtown San Francisco, Apple is widely expected to unveil its new phones, the iPhone 7 and a larger 7 Plus.

The iPhone is the most popular device Apple has ever made and remains its biggest moneymaker. The company gets more than two-thirds of its sales from the iPhone, and in July, it confirmed it sold its billionth iPhone since Steve Jobs introduced it to the world in 2007. The device has spawned entire new industries, like apps, and changed the way we live.

But there are signs the iPhone phenomenon is slowing down. In April, Apple reported its first ever drop in phone sales and continued that trend the following quarter.

This is a developing story. Follow our live blog for real-time commentary, and check out all of today's Apple news.

-- Shara Tibken contributed to this report.