Talk Money with Tony Field – October 2, 2015


It has been three months since Apple Music was launched. That means the free trial period will have ended for many of the streaming service's eleven million users.

Many more of them will soon have to decide whether they opt out or start paying a monthly subscription to continue listening. Investors are wondering how many people will opt to subscribe?

Analysts have told CNBC they think that initially around 25 percent of Apple Music's users are likely to remain subscribers. That is around 2.7 million people.

How does that compare to other paid streaming services?

Spotify's Premium service has 20 million paying subscribers.

Tidal says it has signed up one million people. That might seem a relatively low figure but Tidal's subscription prices include an audiophile option (premium sound quality) that has a higher subscription price than Spotify or Apple.

Spotify says it has not been hurt by the launch of Apple Music. Rather, it says the arrival of Apple Music has helped promote streaming. Spotify has around 75 million listeners who use the free ad-supported version of the site. It says it plans to generate more revenue from this side of the business.

One way it wants to do this is to cooperate more closely with advertisers to tailor the ads to specific listeners.

The most popular streaming genre is hip-hop / R&B. The New York Times reports that hip-hop accounts for 27 percent of all streamed music.

That is larger than hip-hop's 17 percent share of the traditional album market. Part of this will be that hip-hop appeals to younger listeners who tend to be early adopters of new technology.

But there is more to it than just that.

Both Apple and Tidal have partnered with hip-hop artists to offer exclusive content.

This means that keen hip-hop fans might end up paying to subscribe to more than one streaming service.

Here is my talk with Paul Henry about streaming and online subscriptions.

Vinyl has also made a comeback, with an increase in sales of new and second hand LPs.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says sales of new LPs and singles were up 50 percent in the first half of the year in the United States. Total sales were US$226 million (NZ$352 million).

It was pointed out that revenue from the sales of new vinyl exceeded the revenue from ad-supported streaming sites, which totalled US$162 million (NZ$253 million).

Of course that overlooked the revenue streaming has generated from subscriptions. They generated an additional US$477.9 million (NZ$745 million).

Digital radio services added another US$387 million (NZ$604 million).

There is more and more competition for people's time and their money.

But it seems that some young people are still willing to pay for their news.

A poll by Media Insight Project (MIP) found that 40 percent of American adults aged 18 -34 are prepared to pay for news, whether it is via print, a website, app or email.

The MIP is a partnership between the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

It says an additional 13 percent of people rely on someone else's paid subscription for their news.

This illustrates a growing challenge for streaming sites, news sites and other websites relying on paid subscriptions.

Subscription fatigue! How many subscriptions does one person need?

It is a bit like all those loyalty cards bulking up your wallet.

The difference is that in the case of website subscriptions your credit card is being billed each month.

It's been a mixed morning for the US and European markets.

That was after figures were released showing that China's manufacturing sector contracted for a second consecutive month.

China's official purchasing manager's index came in at 49.8 last month. That was better than expected and it was also better than the August reading of 49.7. But anything below 50 indicates contraction.

Stocks finished virtually flat on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped by 0.08 percent.

But the broader S&P500 scrapped into positive territory, rising 0.20 percent.

The Nasdaq rose 0.15 percent.

Germany's DAX was down 1.57 percent and France's CAC 40 slipped 0.65 percent.

But London's FTSE gained 0.18 percent.

West Texas crude oil closed down 0.4 percent at US$44.91.

European Brent was down 0.7 percent to US$48.

Gold slipped US$2 or 0.2 percent to US$1,113.

The New Zealand dollar has made fresh gains overnight against the American currency.

It was trading at 64.02 US cents at 8am. At one point it had risen towards 64.40 cents.

The Kiwi was 91.06 Australian cents at 8am and 42.31 pence.

It was 76.78 Yen and 57.24 Euro cents.

Another New Zealander has been appointed to head one of Australia's biggest banks.

Shayne Elliott will replace Mike Smith as the chief executive of ANZ.

The 51-year-old is the chief financial officer at ANZ, having previously headed its institutional banking business.

He previously worked at Citibank and has had jobs in London, Cairo, and Melbourne.

Mr Elliott is a graduate of the University of Auckland and went to school at Waitakere College.

His new role comes with a salary package of up to AUS$6.6 million (NZ$6.9 million).

Another New Zealander, Ian Narev, is the head of Commonwealth Bank, which owns ASB.

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