News

Canadian Digital Music Sales Growth Beats The U.S. For Third Consecutive Year

Nielsen Soundscan released the Canadian music sales figures for 2008 today and for the third straight year it sings the same tune — Canadian digital music sales are growing faster than the United States.  That's right – for digital music sales the market without the DMCA has grown faster each of the past three years than the home of the DMCA.  In fact, overall music sales also grew faster in Canada than in the U.S. (11.5% to 10.5% – both pretty good considering the economic climate).

The digital track sales growth for the past three years:

Year Canada United States
2008 58% 27%
2007 73% 45%
2006 122% 65%

Canada also beat the U.S. for digital album growth in 2008 (69% to 32%).  Traditional album sales dropped 8.5% in both countries.  While Nielsen Soundscan focuses on the declining album sales – akin to a car maker noting that sales of a particular model had declined even though overall sales were up – The real story is once again that the Canadian digital market is flourishing.  This leads to the same conclusion as last year – "the undeniable reality is that copyright is simply not the issue – the Canadian digital music market continues to grow faster than its U.S. counterpart and it is innovation, not government intervention, that will determine the digital winners and losers."

Update: In response to a couple of comments, including one from Nielsen Soundscan, I have crossed out the reference to car sales, which I agree is unnecessary given that the album data includes actual albums and album equivalents.  Further, there is no disputing that Canadian sales are starting from a lower point than U.S. sales.  Indeed, that is to be expected given that iTunes debuted in Canada nearly two years after launching in the U.S.  Moreover, the relative lack of French titles surely harms Canadian success.  That said, I believe the key point is that the Canadian market continues to grow faster than the U.S., undermining claims that the Canadian digital market cannot succeed without legal reforms.

13 Comments

  1. refererer
    quebec, pays, quebecois, canada, politique, neutre, gouvernement, francais, nationale, parti, peuple, independant, monde, pouvoir, referendum, politiques, guerre, etat, droit, canadienne, quebecoise, vote, souverainete, elections, democratie, independance, constitution, armee, canadien, medias, defense, liberation, nouvelle, histoire, lutte, liberal, onu, partis, campagne, internationale, sondages, national, voter, federal, territoire, commandites, citoyens

  2. The Industry Is Losing Firepower Quick!
    Let’s hope the info is “admissable” in the kangaroo court… errr…. parliamentary dicussions.

    And welcome back professor!

  3. Last year’s model not selling as well
    “… akin to a car maker noting that sales of a particular model had declined even though overall sales were up” …”

    Those guys are a hoot eh? I wish they could see themselves.

    “This leads to the same conclusion as last year – “the undeniable reality is that copyright is simply not the issue …”

    Perhaps we need to lobby the American govt to get their laws more in line with ours.

  4. Duncan Murdoch says:

    Not quite so clear cut
    If you look at digital track sales, you see sales in Canada have grown to about 40 million, whereas sales in the US are just over 1000 million. Following the usual “multiply by 10″ rule of thumb, in Canada per capita sales are about 40 percent of what they are in the US. Sales of vinyl are much closer to being even.

    So the Canadian market is catching up to the US one (last year per capita sales were about 30 percent of the US ones), but it’s not exactly winning. Obviously the fact that the iTunes Music Store opened in the US before Canada is important in explaining the lag, but there are other factors too: it’s not simply Canada 58, US 27.

  5. If the above poster’s stats are accurate, Canada must have been REALLY behind prior to 2006 to have such big growth figures and still lag so far behind the US.

  6. Chris Muratore says:

    Vice President, Research Services – Nielsen Music
    As my organization is the source of the statistics cited on this blog, I would like to ensure that the numbers are interpreted accurately.

    It is true that “Canadian digital music sales are growing faster than the United States”. This is, however, to be expected, given that the Canadian digital market continues to lag far behind the US market, in both relative and absolute terms. Digital sales in Canada are growing from a much smaller base, even after taking into consideration the different size of the two markets. As the Nielsen SoundScan figures make clear, Canadian digital track sales totaled 40.7 million in 2008, compared to 1.07 billion in the US. Digital album sales totaled 3.36 million in Canada, compared to 65.8 million in the US

    The “overall music sales” numbers which we provided and are cited on this blog provide a total number of individual music purchase transactions. This includes total music purchase decisions made by consumers in Canada for single tracks, digital and CD albums and music DVDs.

    A more accurate overall reflection of Canadian music industry sales trends is found in the “overall album sales” statistic, which totals all albums and track equivalent albums (i.e. 10 tracks = 1 album) This is why we referenced that statistic in the heading of our news release and as the first item in our 2008 Year End Factoids. As the item points out, “Overall album sales (including Albums and Track Equivalent Album sales) declined 8.5% compared to 2007, which shows that the digital growth did not offset the decline in physical sales during the year.”

    Mr. Geist’s mischaracterization of the “overall album sales” category as the equivalent of sales of a particular model of car is inaccurate and points to an apparent misunderstanding of the aggregate nature of this category.

  7. Chris Muratore….
    So, then your company is guilty of misrepresentation with those figures?

  8. aha
    AND ill add that his further misrepresentation is the fact that California and newyork are centers of acting and music and that the per capita would be much higher then the ratio of say just taking populations and doing a canada is ten times smaller there fore divide by ten.

    Ya see we aint so defrosted as ya thought EHHH

  9. ALSO
    notice that since the “throttling” has come into play even in the USA how the numbers are drastically reducing….TELL YOU SOMETHING YET?

  10. Classic Case of Ideology over Reality
    Similarly, smartphone sales in Ethiopia grew more than 100 times faster than in Finland last year. Also, ice hockey registration in California is growing substantially more quickly than in Canada. And wine consumption in Saudi Arabia is growing far more quickly than in France. Occasionally I think Michael Geist just doesn’t quite get the full picture. In this piece, though, it’s pretty clear he’s wilfully misrepresenting reality by cherrypicking quotes, taking them out of context, and turning them into headlines. I thought members of the Bar weren’t allowed to do that!

  11. Marnie Tunay says:

    Fakirs Canada
    Hello, Michael. I appreciate your honesty and integrity, as evidenced by your response to the comments on this post, and by the fact that, although you’ve been accused of “cherrypicking [sic] quotes,” -at any rate, you are clearly not selectively posting comments – in fact, you even permit comments, such as James R’s “Classic Case…” – which are abusive and defamatory of yourself.
    Best regards.
    Marnie Tunay
    http://fakirscanada.googlepages.com/

  12. Its because…
    It’s because Canadians have the freedom to download and explore new bands and help support emurged bands. Why would we buy albums from bands we’ve never heard? You first download a few singles and then buy the album if you like it. Why do you think Canada is home to such great bands? Heck, if anything, Americans are stealing from us. Nickelback, Rush, Protest the Hero, Sum 41, Billy Talent, Barenaked Ladies, Cancer Bats, Tragically Hip, Finger Eleven, The Guess Who, Hot Hot Heat, IllScarlet, Marianas Trench, Mobile, New Pronographers, Our Lady Peace, Three Days Grace, Thousand Foot Krutch, Tokyo Police Club and thousands more are all OUR stuff. You all have heard of them and if it wasn’t for us giving these bands a try though free music downloads, they would have been nothing. We cultivate new artists and no law is going to stop Canadians from being kick ass musicians.

  13. Sonic Producer says:

    It is true that “Canadian digital music sales are growing faster than the United States”. This is, however, to be expected, given that the Canadian digital market continues to lag far behind the US market, in both relative and absolute terms.

    http://sonicproducerscam.com