Consumer Information

Please Back Up Your Music

Have you ever wanted to listen to a track you’ve purchased and downloaded some time back only to discover it isn’t in your library?

With digital rights issues and hard drive errors it pays to back up your music – A lesson i’ve been reminded of today when I tried to listen to Zappacosta‘s 80’s Canadian rock classic “Nothing Can Stand In Your Way“.

I believe I had originally purchased this song years back from the now defunct Puretracks music service, well prior to that service’s closing in the fall of 2013, and although it is on my MP3 player it disappeared from my iTunes library because it had been purchased on a previous windows operating system based computer and the digital rights had likely expired before I had noticed.

Unfortunately I had encountered this issue a few times but was able to copy music back from my mp3 player into my library or copy the music from old CD or DVD backups of these recordings to the original media. And this issue is why I kept my hard copy collection of compact discs, cassettes and LPs, to restore music from if someone happens to the recordings on my computer and mp3 player.

As a precaution I make backups of my music (and films and audiobooks) to an external hard drive and other media. And I suggest that you consider doing so as well as Apple transitions from iTunes to the new app, if you use that service as I do.

You can also convert recordings off that service into mp3 or buy mp3s from Google Play, which takes care of some of the digital rights management issues some people have been encountering. But even then you should back up your media because of losses that can happen due to hard drive errors or other more complex issues one can have with mp3 players, phones, tablets and computers.

Yes, you could stream music to some of these mobile devices instead from services like Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music or Spotify. But data rates are expensive in Canada and public wi-fi is preferably used with VPN due to security issues. And sometimes specific tracks aren’t available on those services or suddenly disappear due to distribution issues.

I use some of these services at home, to keep from using space on my mobile devices, and prefer to use my mp3 player when I travel. But if I couldn’t I would probably get a micro-sd card and copy my music to it for my tablet, which is cheaper than paid internet access and less spotty than public wi-fi, which can be a pain when you’re trying to look at music videos on Youtube.

Your best bet is to always download and backup your media, to avoid having to contact a customer service representative that might be busy handling calls from other people whose access is also down, or might not be available due to the streaming service’s limited business hours.

I was quite happy to find the previously mentioned recording on an old writable CD-Rom I had burned years back and you should probably consider the possibility of this issue happening to you in the future.

More Competition For Cable

Not only is Apple expanding their live television offerings to Canadian Apple TV users in the Fall but Corus Entertainment has just announced that they will provide live broadcasts to Amazon Prime Video subscribers in Canada:

“Available soon to Prime members in Canada, STACKTV includes some of the best entertainment, drama, lifestyle and kids television channels, delivering audiences the latest episodes of hit series live and on-demand.

STACKTV will include: Global, Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, W Network, HISTORY®, Adult Swim, Slice, Showcase, National Geographic, Teletoon, Treehouse and YTV.”

Unfortunately sports and news fans will need to wait for more channels to be added to this service. But Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Prime Video, said he’s hopeful that voids in the offering will be filled over time, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

This additional service will be available for a monthly fee of $12.99 (plus taxes) via the Prime Video app on smart TVs, on Roku devices, iOS and Android mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. And Nickelodeon subscription video on-demand service will cost an extra $5.99 per month.

Prime Video is currently $7.99 plus tax or free to Amazon Prime members. And that streaming service currently offers film and television programs on demand, their catalogue expanding slowly to offer content that is currently only accessible by American users.


Goodbye iTunes

Bloomberg has reported that iTunes will be no more shortly, Apple having planned to replace this app with three individual apps for music, television and podcasts soon.

Originally announced on January 9th, 2001 at the 2001 Macworld Expo in San Francisco, this program had been released in March 2001 and brought Apple into the music industry, changing that industry by providing easy access to 200,000 individual tracks via a newly created online store by April 2003.

With iTunes 4.1, Apple extended access to their store to Microsoft Windows operating system users on October 16th, 2003, launching the Canadian iTunes store on December 2nd, 2004 with the release of iTunes 4.7.

When version 6 of the program was released on October 12th, 2005, users of this program were given access to popular television programs, Pixar shorts and music videos, later gaining access to Digital Rights Management free recordings via iTunes Plus and the release of version 7.2 of this program on May 29th, 2007. And Canadians were able to purchase or rent major studio films the following year on June 4, 2008 via iTunes 7.6, which eventually contributed to the demise of several DVD and blu-ray rental chains in Canada.

On May 13th, Apple had announced that the AppleTV app was available to Canadian iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers that are running iOS 12.3 and tvOS 12.3. And that Mac and select Samsung Smart TV owners (2018/19 models) will be able to install and use that new program in the fall.

I suspect the iTunes music store will simply be rebranded to Apple Music, offering streaming and music downloads. And redirect older links to this service.

Record Shows This Weekend

Are you going to be in St. Catharines, Ontario or St. John’s, Newfoundland on Sunday, June the 2nd, 2019? Then you might like to pop in the local record shows that are happening in these cities.

Both events will be occurring at their respectful Holiday Inns :

St. Catharines Record Show / Holiday Inn, 327 Ontario St. / 10:30am-4pm / $4 Admission
Record Fair / Holiday Inn, 180 Portugal Cove Road / 10am-4pm / $2 Admission

Where is it?

Remember back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when the media and content providers claimed we would be accessing content from the four corners of the earth?

Well, it’s nearly 2020 and we’re still having serious distribution issues when it comes to music and film from Europe.

This may not be a problem for most english speakers in this country, who primarily look at Hollywood blockbusters and the odd independent film from the states, Canada, Britain, Ireland or Australia. But when you wander on the Internet Movie Database and encounter films that feature actors and actresses you know from some of those films, you may notice that these have not been made available to North Americans, regardless of the major award nominations or wins these have accumulated.

In my case I have been encountering dead ends trying to rent or purchase recent music and films from Denmark and Finland, that i’ve been searching for since the release of the Academy Award winning film “In A Better World” in 2011.

This excellent Danish drama is available on blu-ray in North America and can be downloaded via Google Play and iTunes in Canada and the United States. But Canadians will not be able to find “Someone You Love“, another Scandinavian drama featuring Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt, or Danish teen horror flick “Danny’s Doomsday“, which features William Jøhnk Nielsen (one of the young, lead actors in “In A Better World“).

Those films were made available on DVD and blu-ray for a short time after their original 2014 theatrical release and are still available for rental and purchase in Europe via several services, including iTunes and Google Play. But only “Danny’s Doomsday” has made it “across the pond”, exclusively to Prime Video in the states.

I’ve contacted iTunes, Google Play and Amazon/Prime Video repetitively in regards to several other European films and the response is pretty much “we’re slowly adding to our catalog so it might appear online soon”, the response i’ve received for over a decade in response to my requests for several classic french films i’ve wanted.

The delays in regards to the french films i’ve asked for are understandable because they’re rather obscure outside of Quebec and the other parts of North America where french isn’t common. But I won’t lie and say I don’t find it rather irritating to see soundtracks from the more recent films being featured on those services instead.

Seriously, I had purchased some of the music off the “Urban Family” soundtrack from iTunes four years before randomly encountering the Finnish musical on some obscure channel on my Roku a few weeks back. And to make matters worse I have also yet to be able to purchase “Uusi Ullottovuus“, a catchy tune by the Brotherus Brothers, the young sibling trio that features Johannes Brotherus, one of the lead actors of that film!

There are also no guaranties that a foreign film will remain available for a long time in North America, which is made apparent by the disappearance of the multiple award winning films like “Good Bye Lenin!” and “I’m Not Scared” from our store shelves and content providers. And all we can do is add titles to our wish lists on the latter, occasionally checking with JustWatch to see if a film pops up somewhere online.

Yes, you could try to find these films on DVD or Blu-ray on eBay or Amazon and use an all region DVD or blu-ray player if these discs aren’t coded for our region but this can get quite costly because of the shipping and handling costs per disc, although the later is more bearable if the DVD or Blu-ray you’re purchasing is compatible with your current player ; Consult your DVD or blu-ray player’s manual for details.

Personally, i’d prefer paying the foreign film producers directly to rent or download their films, when no distributor is available. But there are usually contract issues lingering in the background that keeps that from happening, unfortunately.

I have managed to secure some foreign films on DVD and blu-ray, that were produced in North America. But i’m guessing these are going to get rarer as more and more people just stream or download films legally.

I guess we all need to be patient about these things. But sometimes…

Argh!


Ontario Event Ticket Update

The provincial government of Ontario has removed the price cap on resold tickets in that province and increased fines for violators of the Ticket Sales Act, from $10,000 to $25,000.

The prohibitions related to scalper bots remain but the requirement for sellers to disclose the number of tickets they have available has also been removed.

The newly elected government had paused the implementation of the act in July 2018 and had promised consultations.

Click here for the Consumer Protection Ontario site on “Buying tickets to events in Ontario”.