Spotify is finally coming to Canada, and just about everyone is shocked. The service allows US customers to stream millions of songs for free (if you can put up with ads), or for $10US/month if you like listening to music without someone trying to sell you Viagra.
Spotify is also available in 57 other countries, so its Canadian entrance is lagging quite a bit behind the times. Why? Four years ago, when Pandora tried entering the Canadian market, they ran back to the US as soon as they found out how much it would cost them. According to the Globe and Mail, Re:Sound, a royalty-collecting agency for the record companies, requested that it be allowed to charge “the greater of two figures: 45 per cent of the site’s gross revenues in Canada or 7.5-tenths of a cent for every song streamed.” Most streaming companies decided right then to stay far away from Canada’s streaming scene, as it’s only slightly more cost effective than throwing their money directly into a fire. 45% of revenues is a ton of money, especially since SOCAN, another agency, takes more off the top for music publishing companies.
Keep in mind, AM/FM radio stations pay 2% of revenues, which is a considerable number, but obviously worth it to keep music on the airwaves (even though they’re the same five Nickelback, Rush, and Carly Rae Jepson songs they play on repeat to satisfy Canadian music requirements).
That’s why it’s so shocking that now, four years on (and three years after their launch in the US), Spotify has announced that they’re coming to Canada. This is the biggest news on the Canadian music scene since Drake wrote a love letter to Toronto.
While they haven’t officially announced a date, an open invitation list has been put on the website where people can sign up for an email invitation to the service. Regrettably, there’s a disclaimer at the bottom that “Spotify cannot guarantee that I will receive an ‘invite code’ or when,” setting us up for perhaps the most devastating product withdrawal since the Avro Arrow, as a back up plan.
In any case, it appears Spotify feels they can still make money despite the royalty fees they’re facing, showing that no matter how much Canadians love Canadian music, they love free streaming more.
Update (14/08/14): Spotify has begun sending out invitation codes to use the service, contrary to earlier beliefs that it may never happen. You can request one here. A quick scan of the software shows a seemingly identical model to the US, wherein the free version comes with both banner and audio ads and limits on sound quality, but unlimited listening capability. The music selection is generally excellent. Unlimited removes the ads, and Premium improves the sound quality, along with a variety of other features. No news yet on the pricing of the non-free editions.