The IFPI, the global recording industry association, recently released its Recording Industry in Numbers 2012, which provides detailed sales data from countries around the world. Years ago, the Canadian Recording Industry Association would promote its annual sales data, but it no longer does. Perhaps that is because the data tells a far different story from the one CRIA (now Music Canada) seeks to promote. While CRIA talks about “rebuilding the marketplace”, the industry’s own data indicates that Canada already stands among the global leaders in digital music sales.
The most obvious metric (and one relied upon by IFPI) is paid digital music downloads. According to the IFPI data, Canadians purchased 94.2 million single track downloads in 2011, making it the third largest market in the world (trailing only the U.S. and UK). The Canadian numbers represented a 39% increase in sales, far ahead of the U.S. (8% growth) and U.K. (10% growth). The data shows Canadians purchased more single track downloads than Germany or Japan, and more than double the sales in France, despite the fact that each of those countries has far larger populations. In fact, Canadian sales were larger than all the sales from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden combined. Moreover, given the current growth rates, Canada seems likely to pass the U.S. on per capita single track downloads in about 18 months (not coincidentally iTunes entered the Canadian market 18 months after it debuted in the U.S.).