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Photo by studioEAST/Getty Images

Apple appointed a new executive to oversee its Apple Music business as it continues to grow, inching up to 48 million subscribers from 30 million in September, the company announced, per Reuters. Of those subscribers, 40 million pay for the service.

Why it matters: Apple is inching closer to its closest competitor, Spotify, which has roughly 70 million subscribers. Both firms charge subscribers $8.99 a month.

Oliver Schusser has been appointed vice president of Apple Music and international content, reporting to Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of internet software and services.

Apple has been taking steps to beef up its music service for months:

  • In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is planning to produce original television shows and movies to compete with Spotify, which announced a joint content bundle with video service provider Hulu on Thursday.
  • In December, Apple confirmed it is buying music-identification app Shazam, for a reported price of roughly $400 million.

Still, the tech giant faces competition. Other music subscription services like SoundCloud and Amazon Prime Music don't disclose subscriber numbers, although Amazon did tell The Verge last week it has "tens of millions of active subscribers."

The bigger picture: Investing in Apple Music, along with other apps, is part of chief executive Tim Cook's push to double Apple's "services" or software revenue by 2020.

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Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

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Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

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Pfizer CEO: "It will be terrible" if COVID-19 vaccine prices limit access

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told "Axios on HBO" that it "will be terrible for society" if the price of coronavirus vaccines ever prohibits some people from taking them.

Why it matters: Widespread uptake of the vaccine — which might require annual booster shots — will reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread and mutate, but it's unclear who will pay for future shots or how much they'll cost.