music

Another Cash Grab?

The Copyright Act is being reviewed by the Canadian Government and some Canadians are of course concerned that this will include an extension of private copying levies to cell phones and the possibility of websites being blocked for minor copyright violations.

Unfortunately the government has been pretty quiet about this since their December 17th, 2017 press release and I didn’t want to speculate. But a line in the sand needs to be drawn, regardless of what is and isn’t being considered in the closed door meetings they might be having with foreign lobbyists.

I don’t think cell phones should be subject to the private copying levy because streaming is the preferred method of obtaining music on this device according to Music Canada, some customers listening to radio on these devices. And the possibility of having my site blocked because I accidentally linked a site that decided to offer pirated music is just absurd but these kind of proposals have been made in other countries.

This isn’t about giving artists more of their dues but giving labels more money. And streaming is where the improvements are needed when it comes to royalties for artists, so I see no point in levying cell phone storage.

The Copyright Board proposed levying hard drives and microSD memory cards in 2014 but that propose was rejected because a “recording audio medium” is defined by Part VIII, Section 79 of the Copyright Act as “a recording medium, regardless of its material form, onto which a sound recording may be reproduced and that is of a kind ordinarily used by individual consumers for that purpose”.

A cell phone’s primary function is communication, not the receipt, storage and playback of music. And this device is also used to take and view photographs and videos.

It makes no sense to levy this device for royalties for music and nothing else. And this slippery slope is not advantageous for consumers, who would object to paying levies for storing photographs, video and games on their new smartphone, or tablet.

I don’t like being gouged on data fees so I don’t listen to music, watch videos or play video games on mine now. And I seriously doubt i’d enjoy paying more for a newer model, for services I wouldn’t use.

Do we really want to burden the cell phone industry with this? And when it comes to blocking, this can be bypassed with Virtual Private Network services, so is the government going to go after those as well in the name of copyright?

VPNs are used by people who travel and use public wi-fi, for security reasons. Do we really want to loose access to this service over piracy? When a sharp decline in music piracy was observed in 2017 by Music Canada?

A form has been made available by Open Media to provide comments to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on these issues.

Please submit this form and share this link and your opinions on social media before September 17th, 2018. Thank you.

Save on Music, Books and DVDs at Indigo.ca

Music Book Offers & More

Indigo’s 5X Plum Point Offer may be expiring on the 12th of July, 2018. But their Free Shipping Offer On Books continues, all summer with no minimums. This would be a great opportunity to purchase music biographies, sheet music collection, music theory and other instructional books.

Prime Day will also happen on the 16th and 17th on Amazon.ca, so keep an eye out for deals on books, music, musical instruments and turntables. To get a free trail membership, click on the banner below.

Please note that a Buy 2 Get One Free offer on paperbacks is also available from American retailer Barnes & Noble. This offer will end on July 31st, 2018.

New Taxes On Streaming?

On New Years Day 2019, residents of Quebec will begin paying a tax on streaming services. And unfortunately the Canadian Radio & Telecommunication Commission is considering a “levy” to fund Canadian programming and a House of Commons committee is asking for sales taxes to be collected on these services.

This would of course raise the price of these services for the consumer, significantly. And these had been opposed by Canadians according to a Open Media poll conducted in early 2017 by the Innovative Research Group.

According to this poll, 70% of the respondents opposed a new tax on internet and mobile phone bills, 51% strongly. And in regards to the implementation of sales taxes on foreign streaming services, 47% of the respondents supported it provided the funds would be used on Canadian content.

CRTC chairman Ian Scott claimed the “levy” itself “would cost less than 50 cents on an average broadband bill of $47” durring a May 31st, 2018 Financial Times interview so they could easily just divert some of the sales taxes to Canadian Content instead. But there has yet to be a response in regards to these “contributions” from Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had both claimed there would be no internet taxes.

Please contact your local Member of Parliament on this issue. I will be contacting mine as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Global Music Report Released

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry released their global music report last Thursday and sales have gone up by 8.1% because of streaming, which had become more popular;Streaming revenues grew by 41% worldwide.

Click here for a link to the official IFPI blog entry on the “State Of The Industry” report.

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.

My Year End Predictions For Retail

With the death of Sears Canada, had become obvious that retail is changing way quicker than anticipated by economists.

Back in the 90’s, I suspected something was going on in the industry because one of the stores I had expected to have a future went under a few years after I had left the company.

Consumers Distributing was a chain of stores in Canada and the United States that operated with catalogs like Sears but dedicated only a small portion of their retail space to displays at all of their stores. And most of their merchandise could be found stacked on shelves the back of their outlets, which were brought forward by associates to the consumer, who chose their products from catalogs located in the retail space.

Had they survived into the 2000’s, I suspect they would have progressed from their six-digit catalog system, where people physically presented order slips to an order desk or called an order in using their credit cards, to a touchscreen system that simply gave consumers an order number. And I suspect Amazon would have simply purchased the company, automating the warehouse space further.

Unfortunately, the 212 store chain went under because Sears Canada had a foothold in the catalog market and it just could not survive both the recession of the time and Walmart’s expansion into the Canadian market. But I suspect Amazon may have a limited number of retail outlets that closely resemble Consumer’s Distributing stores in the future, where people could place orders and pick up purchases 24/7 from coded lockers.

Amazon Pickup Point locations already exist in Canada and the United States. And I believe they will likely expand these to Whole Foods locations, a chain that was recently purchased by Amazon.com, creating one stop shop locations in the major cities.

I’m personally hoping they’re going to convert my local Sears Home store here in Western Ottawa to a Whole Foods/Amazon outlet. But I doubt they will consider taking over that many Sears retail stores because the large department store format is pretty much dead.

Consumers are previewing merchandise online so retailers will not need to provide as many displays as they did before. And with 3D technology, I suspect people will scroll through merchandise on virtual reality headsets with customized 3D imagery before 2020.

Optometrist retailer sites already offer services in which people can place frames on their faces and all one would need to do in the very near future is to provide their measurements for virtual models, who would wear clothing for consumers to preview.

Norstrom currently offers a service where clothing is set aside for people to try out and I suspect other stores will offer this convenience shortly through their website, with the aforementioned virtual modeling. And I wouldn’t be surprised some stores would offer perks like high-end coffee and/or liquor through these services as well.

In regards to drones and self-driving vehicles, I don’t know if drones would be the best choice for our weather.

Not only does it get quite cold in most of Canada’s major cities during the winter, it also gets quite windy.

Those who have tried to take digital photographs in the cold here can attest to issues related to draining batteries and I’m sure that drones would be constantly slammed on the side of buildings and into trees by the wind in my suburb. We even get the occasional microburst here.

Self-driving vehicles are currently being tested in my community and I’m expecting pizza/food delivery to be the first service in my area to take advantage of this new technology. But I doubt I’ll be seeing drones delivering goods in my area before 2020, especially fragile items.

The Transport Canada regulations to fly drones are quite tight and I believe we are more likely to get deliveries from our grocery stores and pharmacies in normal vehicles for quite some time. Several of my local grocery stores have only recently started offering click and collect services.

I personally don’t see many advances in music retail either.

As you may or may not know, I had originally wanted to have a career in music retailing. But when the MP3 came along I knew stores would likely go online.

Vinyl sales will continue to expand slightly until higher resolution recordings become the norm and offer the depth of vinyl. And High Definition radio will eventually become the norm, requiring consumers to purchase equipment to listen to the higher resolution recordings, although most stations will likely continue to broadcast in FM and simply include high definition recording data on the same signal.

I don’t believe Canada will follow Norway’s example and go all digital because we haven’t gone all digital when it comes to television in the minor markets. And the government will probably want as much access to Canadians as possible for emergency and weather-related broadcasts so I won’t personally be purchasing an HD radio compatible device for some time.

Even if I wanted to purchase a receiver now they’re over $100 at the moment and there are only three of four HD radio stations in my city. It just isn’t a priority for most and will not likely be until well past 2020, although virtual reality multi-cam live concerts could be a “thing” soon.

4k cameras are getting incredibly compact and can be placed in multiple discrete locations at venues, enabling broadcasts to fans via the internet now. Mostly static front row, mezzanine, and other multiple angle shots but we can just imagine what they’ll be able to do soon with VR headsets. 360-degree 4k live shots of entire performances from the front row or stage, perhaps?

I don’t expect everything to happen next year but it’ll be quite interesting after 2020.