Canada will have greater prominence for streaming for local acts
The Canadian government is moving to put in place legislation that will see a number of audio and video streaming platforms give greater prominence to local musicians and creators.
Bill C-11 was approved by the Canadian House of Commons earlier this week Washington Examiner notes that it requires “a mostly ceremonial vote in the Senate” to be enacted into law and then enacted.
This is the second time for the bill as it was originally debated in 2021, but the announcement of a short election in September the same year meant that it was parked.
What it really means is that if one uses platforms like Netflix
A number of platforms that will be affected by this have outlined their opposition, and warned about, that Wall Street Journal says it, “unintended consequences – such as harming the people the new policy is meant to help”.
Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Cultural Heritage, opposed the benefit of the country’s cultural industry. “[It] will promote the creation of good jobs in the cultural sector, make Canadian content more accessible and make it easier for people to find homemade Canadian music and stories, “he said. Wall Street Journal.
The country has a long-standing quota for radio output, and this move by the government can see a similar policy applied to companies such as Spotify, Apple Music and TikTok.
As it stands, commercial radio in Canada must ensure that at least 35% of the popular music broadcast between 6am and 6pm on weekdays is Canadian. For Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Canada stations, the requirement is higher, with at least 50% of the music played each week qualifying as Canadian content.
Other countries also have a cultural protectionist attitude when it comes to radio quotas, such as France (where it was reduced from 40% to 35% in 2016) and New Zealand (where it is 20%).
Although it is relatively easy to get a quota system for radio – where most stations have rotation-based playlists determined in advance by station programmers and show producers – it becomes more complicated in the context of a music streaming platform.
In these cases, they run on a hybrid approach where playlists and recommendations are editorially curated (ie determined by the internal music layers) as well as algorithmically generated (ie determined by their tailored recommendation software).
For example, Spotify’s flagship playlist, New Music Friday, is located for a variety of markets, so there is already a mix of local selections with international tracks. However, for large playlists, such as Release Radar and Discover Weekly, these are unique to each user, based on their previous listening, liking, skipping, and adding to their own playlists.
How this enters into law in Canada and how it is implemented will be closely monitored by other governments.
Although they do not currently have a radio quota, they will look at streaming services and consider whether they are doing a good job of promoting local creators or whether they are a new catalyst for cultural imperialism where a handful of powerful nations impose their culture on the rest of the world. .
A recent discussion I had with the head of a large music company in Germany raised this very issue, and they said they would like to be able to call for a quota system on music streaming services to better promote German and German-language acts.
What is happening in Canada, and how easy it is for streaming platforms to meet the legal obligations, can have significant ripple effects for other markets that had never even considered a quota before.