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Music business analyst Mark Mulligan, (via Music Business Worldwide), expects Apple Music will have 8 million subscribers by the end of this year. He also forecasts Apple’s music streaming service will hit the 20 million subscriber mark by the end of 2016, making it the number two streaming service, behind only Spotify.

Music Business Analyst Says Apple Music to Hit 20 Million Users by End of 2016

“Apple might not have found the subscription market quite the plain sailing it had anticipated but it has still managed to establish itself as the second player with astounding pace. Its platform and marketing assets are well known, but its clear commitment to making Apple Music work have surprised some.” 

Mulligan does hedge his bets a bit, noting that the exact numbers could vary, saying there are “wildcards” in the equation, such as Apple Music’s three-month free trial that could have led to some accidental paid subscribers, and the $1 a month Spotify Premium three-month trial system.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in October that the company’s music streaming service had 6.5 million paying users. That meant it had retained 60% of the 11 million trial customers from its launch. An 8 million count at the end of the year would mean a 1.5 million leap in subscribers during the last few months of 2015.

Mulligan also believes that if Apple can get its subscribers to stick around at $10 per month, they’ll go back to pressuring the record labels to lower the costs on their end of the equation:

“If Apple finds growth tough going, expect it to throw everything it has got at getting the labels to agree to lower price point products so it can open up large chunks of the iTunes music customer base.”