Canada a World Leader in Digital Download Sales Growth

This was report-card week for the global recording industry as they issued reports on music sales for 2006.  Lost among the various headlines (Howard points to 10% growth in Canada; press reports talked about the IFPI targeting ISPs) is a far more significant development. Canada was among the fastest growing digital download markets in the world, outpacing the United States and Europe. Last week, CRIA President Graham Henderson was telling the media that the Canadian digital market was not taking off and that "people are simply abandoning the marketplace altogether, and they've made the decision they'll just download the music and worry about how the artist gets paid later."

Not so. Canadian digital download sales grew by 122 percent last year, increasing from 6.7 million to 14.9 million (digital albums increased by a similar percentage).  By comparison, the U.S. grew 65 percent and Europe by 80 percent.  These are the industry's own numbers – far from abandoning the digital market, the Canadian market is growing faster on a percentage basis than the United States and Europe. CRIA would no doubt respond that the Canadian market is starting from a much smaller base and thus has more room to grow.  That may be true, yet the data suggests that the Canadian market is showing similar growth traits as those experienced in the U.S.  iTunes debuted in the U.S. in April 2003 and sales were relatively modest in that first year with 19.2 million tracks sold in the last six months of that year.  The big growth occurred in iTunes third and fourth year as the numbers jump from 143 million in 2004 to 582 million last year.  The Canadian market is nearly two years behind the U.S. as iTunes debuted in December 2004 in Canada.  The first year sales were also relatively modest, followed by dramatic jump last year.  Considering the more limited selection and the absence of television downloads, the only credible conclusion is that the Canadian market is performing very well.


  1. Or that it’s too cold to go outside and buy music.

  2. You mean Canadians are NOT thieves?
    Nielsen numbers are generally the ‘bible’ record companies use to monitor trends, track success, forecast and plan for next quarter. Congratulations Canada! The record companies are obviously managing to break through and sell their wares to us, and we in turn appear to be purchasing a broad(er) range of their goods. Particularly fascinating to see the second largest yr/yr increase in digital album sales is in ‘deep catalogue’ at 70%. This might suggest that Canada’s baby boomers – it’s largest demographic consuming group – have also (finally) garnered a love for digital music which suggests in turn that at least in the near term we will witness even stronger overall consumption trends.

    “Digital music is killing the recording industry?”… HOGWASH!

    The only real important next step to allow Canada’s industry to continue on a positive roll and ensure music’s future in Canada, is for the president’s at the board table of the CRIA to oust their pompous, doom and gloom touting, lying, fear-mongering, conniving leader and find a real champion who will ralley positive change, continued growth and maybe even a more positive outlook with Canadian consumers, on their behalf.

  3. Radio interview of the above
    As a quick note, this morning (January 22, 2007) CBC ([ link ]) had an interview with Mr. Henderson, and tomorrow will have a comparative interview with Mr. Geist. The show runs at 0545 for 15 minutes, and there are links to the interview on the BizNet site.