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.).
Not only is the Canadian digital market far larger than virtually every European market, it continues to grow faster than the U.S. digital music market as well. In fact, the Canadian digital music market has grown faster than the U.S. market for the past six consecutive years. The latest data on digital music sales growth:
The 2011 data is also notable because growth accelerated after declining for several years. Canadian overall music sales growth was also positive, growing by 2.6%. By comparison, among the top 20 global markets, the U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Norway, and South Africa all declined. It goes without saying that all of this growth and global leadership has occurred without copyright reform or digital lock rules.
While the news is obviously a very good one for record labels (despite their seeming desire to hide it), it is worth noting that the share of Canadian artist revenues from Canadian sales is lower than most other countries. According to the IFPI’s statistics of repertoire origin (for physical sales), Canadian artists garner only 30 percent of sales. By comparison, countries such as the U.S. (93%), Finland (67%), France (65%), Germany (46%), Italy (54%), UK (42%), Brazil (63%), and South Africa (48%) domestic artists all generate far more sales. Language is certainly a factor (Australia has a similar 31% rate), but the data highlights why foreign record labels have been so aggressive in lobbying the Canadian market as benefits accrue disproportionately to labels representing foreign artists rather than Canadian ones.