The Definitive Guide to Streaming Music Services in Canada

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: streaming music services are the future of music consumption. You might as well get on board.

But as a fellow Canadian, I understand your confusion. We lag far, far behind Europe, the US, SE Asia and Australia when it comes to adopting streaming thanks to our teeny market size and the stubbornness of various regulatory and rights-holding bodies to get with the program. Hell, streaming use by consumers is so low in this country that SoundScan hasn’t even bothered releasing a weekly streaming report to clients, something that they’ve been doing in the US and other territories for years.  The numbers have just been too low to make it worthwhile.

However, times are changing.  Canadians are starting to get into the streaming habit.  SoundScan will start issuing a Canadian streaming report this week.  And Spotify, probably the best-known of all the services, has already gone into invitation mode with selected Canadians. Can Pandora be far behind?

But because we’ve had our faces pressed up against the digital glass for so long–there’s even a site called Cantada that tracks all the cool digital services that we are still (legally) denied–there’s much confusion over what we can and cannot access.

With that in mind, the massive staff at Geeks&Beats, my other online life, collaborated on what we believe is the definitive guide to streaming music services in this country. It’s a good start, but we’d appreciate any and all input, comments and corrections so that we’re 100% accurate. Please have a look.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

8 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Streaming Music Services in Canada

  • September 2, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    It could be because streaming music requires bandwidth and bandwidth cost money. If your like myself who can’t afford the $80 data plan, your opting to get the cheapest plan possible. Cheap plan equals no streaming service. If Bell and Rogers ever start lowering their prices then maybe more people will jump on board.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 11:43 am
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      True, but data pricing is coming down. And how much would the average person spend on music each month? Maybe spending less money on music in one area can offset another. Besides, streaming just sips at bandwidth. I’m a heavy streamer and I almost never exceed 75MB a month.

      Reply
      • September 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm
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        Did you mean 750 MB a month? I’m a middling streamer, and that’s where my data-usage sits. It would be a lot higher, but I use the offline-sync feature of Rdio whenever I can.

        (Or are you counting a wi-fi connection as streaming, which wouldn’t affect your mobile data plan?)

        Reply
        • September 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm
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          I use a combination of WiFi and data and it’s almost exclusively streaming. Downloading resident tracks would push that much higher, of course.

          Reply
          • September 3, 2014 at 10:17 am
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            Not trying to be pedantic or a pill here, but 75 MB works out to an hour and twenty minutes of streaming at 128 kbps quality. There might be lower options, but probably not less than 96 kbps, and even that’s less than two hours.

            Maybe whatever app you’re using automatically caches while you’re on wifi.

  • September 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm
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    Streaming on my phone = data.

    Do any of these services offer selectable streaming quality?

    I prefer Radio Paradise if I’m going to stream over data because (besides track announcements, no commercials, a curated free-format playlist with excellent variety, music discovery) you can choose the stream quality 24k, 64k, or 128.

    Being able to choose stream quality is such a bonus.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm
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    Screenshots for Rdio are pretty dated – the app is much, much better looking than that these days on iOS.

    Might be worth mentioning this announcement with regards to their Canadian presence:

    “Online streaming music service Rdio has announced the appointment of Michael Orrbrooke as General Manager of Canada. As part of his role, he will be responsible for developing new partnerships for the company within Canada and manage existing partnerships, including a recently announced marketing partnership with Shaw Communications. Michael will report directly to Scott Bagby, President of International for Rdio.”

    It’s also somewhat oddly worded in your guide to suggest that Shaw is building out their staff – that’s not the case, I don’t think?

    I don’t understand the point of a “definitive” Canadian guide that includes options we can’t legally obtain, and yet also omits major players we can (SiriusXM online only subscription), or speciality players that are truly world class (jazzradio.com, free or subscription for higher bitrate streams, with 30+ stations of fully curated Jazz organized by genre and style)

    There’s also some really indie efforts like SomaFM, but if you start going down that rabbit hole and looking at the smaller services, you might never leave your basement 🙂

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm
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    I’m thrilled Spotify invited me, and is finally arriving in Canada. I listen to it everyday, and don’t mind paying for one of the few truly worthwhile services on the internet, or anywhere!

    Reply

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