Pandora, Spotify top ranking of music apps -- so where's Beats?

What are the first apps that pop into your head when you think music? If Apple's Beats Music is among them, you may be scanning farther down new App Annie standings than you might expect.

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Joan E. Solsman
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The ranking of some high-profile players like Apple's Beats Music may be eye-opening.. Spotify

New music-app rankings put Pandora and Spotify at the top of the charts, but go a little lower in the standings and things get interesting.

App Annie, an analytics company that monitors and reports on app downloads and revenue, released on Wednesday lists of the top US apps in the Google Play store and Apple's App Store, the primary shops for apps on the two biggest operating systems for smartphones. For both downloads and revenue in September, Pandora and Spotify come out No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. But players like Beats Music are relatively low in the listing for top apps by downloads. Beats placed ninth, below iHeartRadio, SoundCloud and Apple's own GarageBand.

App Annie

Given that Apple bought Beats for $3 billion in a high-profile deal earlier this year, that may come as a surprise. With 250,000 subscribers as of May, after four months operating with a high-profile partnership with AT&T, versus Spotify's 10 million paying members, it may not be that surprising that Beats is ranked so low.

Beats may not continue long in its current form, as Apple is widely believed to be integrating its streaming service into iTunes next year.

The lower download ranking may also reflect the fact that Beats Music has no free, ad-supported model; people must pay for the service to use it at all. Rivals like Pandora and Spotify have the option of listening free with commercials on mobile devices.

Despite Beats' lower ranking by downloads, it is relatively high for revenue, at No. 3. App Annie's revenue measurements include payments made to download an app and payments made within the app itself but don't capture revenue from sources like advertising.

Marcos Sanchez, App Annie's vice president of global corporate communications, said the firm has observed Apple-related apps perform well on revenue elsewhere.

"We have seen consistently in the US for sure that folks on the Apple platform tend to monetize better," he said. "It's a premium product, it's not cheap. You're probably going to have a demographic with more to spend."

The rankings come from App Annie Intelligence, analytics data based on estimates calculated with the company's proprietary algorithm. The algorithm uses data from App Annie's more than 55,000 analytics users and provides estimates on absolute download and revenue numbers.

Other big money-makers that may come as a surprise are music "creation" apps Magic Piano and Sing Karaoke by Smule. Though perhaps overlooked amid the fervor over streaming-music listening services, Smule has been rapidly increasing its number of users and revenue.

"We noticed that [music creation apps] are becoming increasingly popular, and people are starting to use them more," Sanchez said. "This is probably a reflection of how games have always been an enormous seller in apps...Music creation can almost mimic games."

Plus, he said, "everyone wants to be rock star."