Nielsen Soundscan releases annual music sales figures for the United States in the first week of the new year and for Canada one month later. This year Nielsen released the U.S. figures, but nearly three months later, there has still not been a public release of the Canadian figures. However, a Globe and Mail story over the weekend included the data, which confirms that the Canadian digital market grew faster than the U.S. market in 2010. Last year, digital music sales grew by 19.8% in Canada, while the U.S. market was basically flat, with just 1% growth. As the chart below demonstrates, this marks five straight years in which the Canadian digital market has grown faster than the U.S.:
The recording industry will no doubt point to decelerating growth and the fact that the Canadian digital market comprises a smaller share of the market than in the U.S. Yet the reality is that Canadian market’s global ranking is the same for both digital and non-digital sales – according to the Recording Industry in Numbers 2010, Canada ranks 7th worldwide on both counts. Moreover, the Canadian market includes additional sources of revenue for artists and record labels that do not exist in the U.S. such as the private copying levy.
None of this should be taken to mean that the industry doesn’t face challenges. Like any media and entertainment industry, it obviously does, particularly as Canadians find alternate streaming sources for their music and different places to spend their entertainment dollars. However, the claims that Canada is a piracy haven where Canadians don’t purchase digital music is undermined by the industry’s own data, which again shows the Canadian digital music market growing faster than the U.S.