The Buymusic.ca Blog

A blog by a Music Consumer for Music Consumers

Excellent News For Music Fans

I have just received word that the “Tour Tax”, a prohibitive fee that international artists were subjected to when performing in Canada, has been scrapped.

This counterproductive fee kept newer artists out of Canada, especially independent and unsigned artists, and has caused many clubs to stop featuring live acts altogether. 

Over 143,000 signatures had been registered on a change.org petition promoted on this blog in 2013, which was presented to Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister for Multiculturalism.

Google Play Music Comes To Canada

Google Play Music is now available to Canadians.

Canadians can now purchase music from this service and store their music library online in a cloud that can be accessed from computers and Android devices. But users of this service will of course be required to confirm their eligibility by using a credit card or debit card and will be required to install software on their computers and Android devices to access their library, Google Play music purchases and Google Play music subscription.

The price of individual track downloads range from $1.29 to $1.50 on this service whilst their music subscription service costs $9.99 per month ($7.99 prior to June 30th, 2014).

The initial set-up is relatively pain free though I suspect some individuals with low upload speeds will find it a bit time consuming.

Basically the Google Play music software scans your library for items Google doesn’t already have in their catalogue to download from your computer for your cloud and if you happen to have a significant number of these recordings the setup process may take some time.

Of the 2700 or so mp3 and iTunes recordings I have in my player ready directory, the directory where I store my very favourite music for easy transfer to my mp3 player, it recognised about 700. And the program didn’t accept a hundred or so DRM protected recordings so the process took about less than an hour using the highest bandwidth setting.

This means that people with a low upload rate will need to give the program time to download their recordings. But they shouldn’t have a problem doing something else while this happens in the background on a four core computer. And I listen to obscure French recordings so this can account for a large portion of the recordings that were not recognised.

I should also note that most of my recordings have a bit rate of 320 and the average mp3 has a considerably lower rate of 192 or 256. Google Play will likely recognise more of those 192 or 256 bit rate recordings and take less time to download the remaining lower rate recordings. 

Errors in cataloguing were rare in my case. I had issues with a David Foster recording and a duplicate entry for Bjork’s catalogue, both of which included characters that were replaced with Asian fonts. But the rest of my library appears fine. And like on iTunes purchases are automatically added to the cloud when purchased on Google Play.

I will of course be testing the Android software on my tablet over the next few days and posting an entry if I encounter any issues.

Is Free Television Being Phased Out ?

Do you guys remember when we were first told that off air television broadcasts would go digital and that more people would be getting free television using antennas ?

Do you remember when we could watch television programs for free online legally through the Canadian network web sites ?

Well, if you want proof that the cable and satellite companies don’t want people to “cut the cord” you just have to look at the current status of television in Canada.

It started with Global Television in my area.

I had decided to stop paying $7 plus tax per month for extra outlets and although I was able to receive Global Television clearly for months, it has suddenly disappeared one summer.

Apparently the owner of the network decided to reduce the strength of the transmission so now an external antennae is required. But this was of course no problem because I was able to access television programs online via the network’s web site.

Then a few months back I noticed I was no longer receiving CTV, which had a strong signal until then.

I am located within 15 kilometers from the broadcasting tower for both stations so there was no reason for my loss of CTV as well. But like Global Television, CTV is also owned by a cable or satellite provider so I had assumed that they also reduced their off air broadcasting strength. And again I decided to stick to on demand and online broadcasts until I get an external antenna.

By then I had switched from Rogers Cable to Bell Fibe TV so I was mostly just watching television programs on demand for free, just like I has done with Rogers. But since Rogers had purchased the rights to the hockey broadcasts there appeared to be issues relating to what could be viewed by what subscribers online.

Now Canadians are being asked to login their cable or satellite provider accounts to view television programs on the major network sites. And the selection of programing is currently  limited to the networks owned by their provider.

Bravo.

Personally I think we should be able to get our local channels off air and online based on our IP address.

There should be enough advertisement revenue there for networks to profit on and cable and satellite providers could always give people access to specialty networks and  on demand programming.

We should be progressing off the problematic off air VHF frequencies and move stations to UHF like most American networks have.

Phase 3 of the “Let’s Talk TV” consultations at the CRTC will begin in April with the publication of details on the public hearing scheduled in September. And from the government’s response last Budget Day, it appears that our cable/satellite channels may get unbundled.

Hopefully this will not be more expensive for consumers, a concern we should all share because these companies have been hiking their rates excessively over the past few years.

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting estimated in Oct 2013 that many of Canada’s cable companies had hiked their rates from 81% to 96% since 2002 ; Almost five times inflation. And Forbes believes the model is unsustainable so we’ve got to wonder what exactly we’re going to be subjected to as consumers.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had mentioned that “cable-TV companies have become like utilities because there are only so many providers that offer the service in a certain region” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last October so perhaps the current government is considering regulating them. But I guess we’ll only know for sure after  the public hearings in September.

By the way, you can access information in regards to the previous phases of “Let’s Talk TV” on the official CRTC web site, which includes comments from the public.

More Gift Card Offers

There are two overlapping gift card offers this week, both offering $5 off $25 iTunes gift cards.

You can take advantage of this offer at participating Sobeys stores up to the 20th of November or you can visit your local participating Rexall Pharmaplus for the same offer up to the 28th of November.

Check your local flyer for details one whether your local stores have this offer or not.

Update: Additional offers can be found at participating Metro and Best Buy locations.

At participating Metro grocery stores you can get $5 off a $30 iTunes gift card multipack whilst at participating Best Buy locations you can get $12 off a $60 iTunes gift card multipack.

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