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:
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.