music streaming

New Music Streaming Service

Amazon Music HD is now up and running and offering millions of tracks at 2 to 10 times the bitrate of other services.

New users from Canada that live outside of Quebec will be able to take advantage of a limited time offer to listen for free for 90 days.

How I save money on Streaming/Downloads

You can save money on the music, television and film streaming and downloading services in Canada by purchasing discounted gift cards to pay for downloads or subscriptions in advance.

I’ve personally obtained discounts and bonus loyalty points on gift cards for Amazon.ca (Amazon Music/Prime Video), Cineplex, iTunes, Google Play and Netflix. And have seen similar offers on gift cards for SiriusXM and Spotify on occasion at some retailers. But you’ve got to know where to look to find them:

Amazon.ca – Amazon occasionally has targeted promotions that are sent by email to their customers and occasionally pop up on banners on their site, most of which include promotional credits when one reloads their gift cards or adds funds to their Amazon Cash accounts. At the moment there is an offer for a $5 promotional credit for first-time users that add $20 to their Amazon Cash account before September 30th, 2020.

Best Buy Canada – iTunes gift cards are usually discounted at this electronics chain in the Christmas shopping season but offers do occasionally pop up from time to time.

Esso/Mobile Canada – Esso Extra points can be redeemed in store for Cineplex gift cards and online for Amazon.ca, Cineplex and iTunes gift cards. Click here for details.

Guardian/IDA – Both these pharmacies have rare offers on gift cards, also mostly in the Christmas shopping season. Their flyers might be worth a browse then.

Jean Coutu – Mostly located in Quebec, New Brunswick and Eastern Ontario, this pharmacy occasionally offers a discount on gift cards. And although you can’t collect or redeem Air Miles for gift cards at the stores themselves, you can redeem “Cash Miles” for Cineplex eVouchers from Air Miles collected at participating retailers.

Loblaws – This grocery chain and its affiliated stores (Your Independent Grocer, Real Canadian Superstore, Atlantic Superstore) mostly offer bonus Optimum points with the purchase of the above-mentioned gift cards but do occasionally offer discounts on these gift cards. Look at the bottom of the flyer pages for their weekly offers and/or occasional graphic showing the gift cards associated with the week’s offers.

London Drugs – Although I haven’t personally shopped at a London Drugs pharmacy, I’ve heard they occasionally have discounts and offers on their gift card selection. I’ve seen a flyer or two with some rather interesting offers that I couldn’t take advantage of because they don’t have a store in my community. They do ship gift cards by mail though.

Petro Canada – Although I haven’t seen discounts being offered on gift cards by this gas station chain, it is one of the few retailers that allow people to redeem their loyalty points on physical and electronic gift cards, specifically from Best Buy, Cineplex and iTunes.

Pharmasave – Another pharmacy that has discounts on gift cards, mainly in the Christmas shopping season.

Rexall – This chain of pharmacies used to offer bonus Air Miles for gift cards but have just introduced their own loyalty program, whose terms & conditions state points cannot be collected or redeemed on gift cards. But I suspect they may discount specific gift cards on occasion, like during the Christmas shopping season, so you may consider browsing the weekly flyers.

Shell – These gas stations rarely have flyers but they and Air Miles occasionally send out promotions that contain offers for bonus Air Miles, by mail, email and on their respective web sites. But the selection of cards may be limited in the smaller locations.

Shoppers Drug Mart – This pharmacy also offers bonus Optimum points and also occasionally offers discounts on specific gift cards, mostly posting these offers along the bottom of their flyer pages, among other information. They also occasionally add pictures of the gift cards that are eligible for an offer that week.

Sobeys – This grocery chain occasionally offers discounts and bonus Air Miles on gift cards, including a few of the gift cards listed above.

I haven’t yet tried Rakuten to get money back from my Cineplex and Cineplex gift card purchases but I’ll consider it in the future. And if I can think of some more discounts and loyalty point offers I’ll update this blog entry, as soon as possible. I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll be able to find some deals.

Newegg Canada

New Offer

Canadians can now try Amazon Music Unlimited for four months for 99 cents.

This music streaming service includes unlimited access to any song on the service, advert-free on-demand access, offline listening with unlimited skips and hands-free listening with Alexa.

After four months the monthly subscription fee is $9.99, $7.99 for Prime Members.

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.

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 MĂ©lanie 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.

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.