Consumer Information

Apple Ending Music Downloads?

Since mid-March there have been rumours that Apple may be ending music downloads on March 31st, 2019 to promote their Music Streaming services. But contradictory statements have been issued so I don’t personally believe Apple would shut down such a lucrative service.

Yes, the streaming service has become quite popular with iPhone users and streaming accounted for 65% of the music sales in 2017 according to the Recording Industry Association of America. But digital downloads still accounted for 15% of these sales last year, regardless of their 25% reduction in sales from the previous year and iTunes retains a good percentage of these sales.

I support artists by buying music and music video downloads from iTunes, Google Play and CD Baby because artists generally get more royalties from these download services than their streaming counterpart, although it should be noted that SOCAN did confirm a hike in streaming royalties in their 2016 annual report.

I don’t own an iPhone and I am not interested in owning one, preferring to listen to my music on an older Sony digital music player instead of draining my Sony Xperia smartphone’s battery to listen to music. And iTunes has been my primary source of music since Puretracks closed, on both the Windows and Apple operating systems, so i’m hoping they will continue the service because I am not that interested in streaming services.

Although I have installed Spotify and several other streaming services on my desktop and tablets, the vast majority of the music I listen to was copied off compact discs and I don’t want to need an internet connection to play my music.

I’m not willing to pay extra to listen to music I already paid for and I occasionally visit areas with little to no internet access so paid streaming is not the best option for me.

I guess we’ll see what they’re planning my March 31st, 2019 and I will definitely contact them with my concerns if they ever choose to bow out of music downloads.

Great News From RIAA

The Recording Industry Association of America has compiled its data for 2017 and sales are up by 16.5%, driven by the heightened sale of vinyl records, music downloads and streaming service subscriptions.

The actual report can be found here (in PDF) and additional commentary on this growth in sales can be found on Medium.

Censorship Proposed

As you may or may not know, several companies have formed a lobby group called FairPlay Canada in order to block certain sites deemed to contain pirated material.

This group proposes the creation of a non-profit entity called the Independent Piracy Review Agency to administer this blocking “under the supervision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to help prevent international piracy sites and organizations from reaching and harming Canada’s creative economy”, as stipulated in a January 29th, 2018 application to the CRTC (PDF). But numerous issues in regards to this were brought up by Openmedia, including issues related to censorship and Net Neutrality. And one has to wonder who will be paying for this initiative.

Personally I have concerns about any entity being tasked with blocking sites because of what happened in July 2005, when Telus decided to block a pro-union website and blocked over 760 sites that just happened to share this pro-union website’s server “by accident”.

A preliminary injunction was required to force Telus to stop blocking these sites and although the proposal attempts to ease these concerns by saying the “system would have extensive checks and balances”, one has to wonder why members of this “trustworthy” group would refuse to air advertisements on this issue from Openmedia and use other tactics like that discovered by blogger Michael Geist.

Do we really want these people to block legal content that happens to be on servers where pirated recordings can be found? Can we be guarantied prompt responses to sites that were unduly blocked? And how exactly would they address the use of Virtual Private Networks, that can used to bypass blocking? Will they claim those services facilitate piracy, blocking them with no real consideration to their legitimate use?

In 2016 legal music streaming profits in Canada went up a whopping 144.9% and legal music downloads remain one of the primary sources of music for Canadians according to Music Canada. And the Nielsen Music 360 survey and BuzzAngle Music confirmed more Canadians are using these legal services in 2017 so people are clearly being lured away from the illegal services this proposal attempts to address.

The use of smartphones to stream music grew in this country according to a September 2017 report issued by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (PDF) ; From 40% in 2016 to 52% in 2017. And Netflix and other streaming services have successfully convinced many would be pirates to use their services instead so why would we need to open this pandora’s box?

Blocking sites will in no way cause recording artists to gain more royalties from the legal streaming services and address what Music Canada calls “The Value Gap“. And the premise of forcing people to attend hearings to keep their sites available to the public is absurd.

Most CRTC hearings are held in Gatineau, Quebec yet the proposal does not discuss where these other hearings might happen or if legal recourses would be made available to those who were forced to incur costs to defend themselves from false accusations. I guess we’re all supposed to subscribe to false dilemmas and presume everything will work out fine.

If you would like to file an intervention with the CRTC, you can do so by clicking here by 8pm Eastern, March 29th, 2018.

Record Store Day – April 21st, 2018

Record Store Day will be on April 21st this year and a release list has been made available.

I’m interested in the re-release of Platinum Blonde’s “Standing In The Dark” on white vinyl and Def Leppard’s “Live From Abbey Road” LP. 🙂

Radio-Canada to Destroy 151,000 CDs!

It appears that the Montreal offices of Radio-Canada will be destroying over 151,000 compact discs from their library to save space according to Radio-Canada International.

These recordings will be copied to a digital format by 2019, just before the french public broadcaster’s move to a new smaller building in 2020. And only around 56,000 compact discs from their extensive collection will be offered to cultural or educational organizations.

When asked why all of the recordings could not be sold or given away, a spokeswoman for Radio-Canada stated it would have been too expensive and time consuming to confirm what rights were involved, although one has to wonder about this excuse because of the early 2012 sale of Calgary’s CBC music archive to The Inner Sleeve, a Calgary Record store in March 2012.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sold 27,000 LPs and 35,000 CDs in that transaction and several other archives were closed since early 2012 because these were basically duplicates of the archive in Toronto.

Of the 650,000 compact discs contained at these archives in 2012, only 140,000 were “unique to one particular library” according to Exclaim. And some archivists and audiophiles are concerned about the potential loss of rare recordings in the process.

It’s a shame they couldn’t have simply forwarded Cancon recordings to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. But according to the CBC and Radio-Canada these were cost cutting measures…

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Why is Vinyl So Expensive?

I just ran into a Toronto Star article that I pretty much agree with.

Although I love the depth of analog, I now purchase the rare long play records to mount them on my walls as art and/or to find tracks that have not yet been released digitally online. And I would never think of replacing my CD collection with vinyl now because they’re way too expensive.

Yes, I can find popular and new releases (or new re-releases) for around $26 online. But many are well over $40 and some DVD-audio or Blu-Ray audio titles are cheaper.

I may indulge with a few of my very favourite albums and might buy LPs that include downloads but i’m happy with my collection for the moment.