Today, Spotify officially launched in Canada. The online music streaming service has been sought after in the country for years now, despite the many similar services that have strived to satisfy Canadian music lovers.
Spotify was created by Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Ek in 2008, and has since become the largest on-demand music streaming service in the world. The company was one of the first to popularize the concept of streaming, offering users legal access to a huge music collection without requiring them to pay for it. What you can pay for, however, is an ad-free account. These premium accounts omit the intermittent commercials that earn you the free listening (which come out to around four minutes an hour). 40 million active users and 10 million paying subscribers now take advantage of the their catalogue, which has over 20 million songs.
In 2009, Spotify claimed they would be moving to Canada in a few months. For no particular reason, the launch never happened. “I can’t really say there’s anything specific that stopped us, obviously we’re a big global business and our priorities change a little bit,” said Andres Sehr, Spotify’s Marketing Director. “The Canadian market is really important for us, it’s one of the largest music markets, and I think it’s more that we wanted to make sure we got it done right. Back at that time, as a company, it wasn’t right for us.”
He also explained that securing licensing rights for millions of songs is always a challenge in new locations. Canada is the 58thmarket to be graced by the music giant, and their goal is that around 1 in 4 Canadian users will subscribe to an ad-free premium account.
Last year, a telephone survey* conducted for the Media Technology Monitor revealed that nearly two-thirds of Canadians said they regularly streamed music online, a decent-sized leap from 61% in 2012 and 51% in 2011. The poll also revealed that the most popular source for free online music in Canada was YouTube. 53% of those polled said they used the video-sharing site to hunt down their favorite tunes.
As Canadians patiently awaited Spotify’s arrival, similar streaming services like Deezer, Rara, Rdio, Slacker, and Google Play Music struggled to fill the void. In the same survey above, only 1 in 5 said they used a streaming service similar to Spotify.
It is hard to tell whether the platform will catch on. But based on Spotify’s success in other markets, they will probably clean house with the Strong and Free.
*Note: The Media Technology Monitor commissioned Forum Research Inc. to speak with 4,009 anglophones by phone between Oct. 7 and Dec. 1, 2013. The survey results are considered accurate within 1.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.