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Spotify hits 100 million subscribers, lapping Apple Music

Spotify's paid membership is double what Apple Music reported earlier this year.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Spotify surpassed 100 million subscribers at the end of March, the music streaming service said Monday in its first-quarter report. 

That keeps Spotify above its closest competitor, Apple Music; Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January that Apple Music hit 50 million subscribers at the end of last year. 

As society worldwide has shifted to streaming as the most common way people listen to tunes, Spotify and Apple Music have broken away as the two leaders in a race to dominate subscription music. Spotify is the biggest streaming service by both subscribers and those who listen for free in the world, but Apple Music reportedly has been outstripping Spotify's growth in the US, which is the world's biggest market for recorded music. 

Spotify's growth in the latest quarter hit the top end of the range that it had predicted in February. Looking ahead to the middle of this year, the company predicted it would gain another 7 million to 10 million paying members.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Spotify also said Monday that 217 million people now use its service at least once a month and it expects this number of total monthly active users -- which includes everyone who listens to Spotify free with advertising -- would rise to 222 million to 228 million by the middle of the year. Unlike Apple, Spotify has a free tier that lets anyone listen to music with advertising. Apple has never disclosed a monthly-active-user stat; almost all people who use Apple Music are paid subscribers. 

In the first quarter, Sweden-based Spotify reported a loss of 142 million euros ($158 million), or 79 cents a share, narrowing from a loss of 169 million euros, or 1.01 euros a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 33% to 1.51 billion euros in the quarter.

Spotify shares were 1% at $136.93 in recent trading. 

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