CBC Music is simply giving Canadians what they can't find elsewhere

May 16, 2012, Toronto

This letter to the editor was published on CARTT.CA

CBC launched CBC Music just over three months ago with the goal of better-serving the musical needs of Canadians. The support from both artists and fans has been nothing short of overwhelming. To date, over 29,000 Canadian musicians have signed up and created artist pages on CBCMusic.ca and uploaded over 140,000 Canadian songs which are available for listening.

There are no less than 500 concerts on the site, 95% of which are Canadian. And the service features a number of all-Canadian web radio stations including ones that have been showcasing Canadian composers, Canadian Songwriters as well as ones featuring the music of Leonard Cohen and Gordon Lightfoot. We've received a host of positive e-mails, tweets, Facebook and blog posts.

Clearly, CBC Music is resonating in a significant way with Canadians across the country. We're not only giving them the music they want, when they want it, where they want it, but also providing rich information, context and interviews. We wrap a story around the music that fans connect with on CBCMusic.ca.

So its imperative everyone understands the facts as they pertain to Stingrays application against CBC Music (which the company outlined on Cartt.ca on Tuesday).

In it's application, Stingray alleges CBC Music is somehow harmful to the competitive market for online music services, we're getting preferential treatment (as it pertains to the rights payment structure) and that we should be a 100% Canadian service.

When we look at the specific concerns they raise, there are a few things that CBC would like to clarify.

First off, the basis of the argument put forward by Stingray is not correct. In fact, CBC Music does not receive any preferential treatment when we negotiate our rights deals. Just like all broadcasters and distributors, the nature of the services we offer are examined (either by the Copyright Board or the party we are negotiating with) and then rates are set - or negotiated - accordingly.

On the question of whether CBC Music should be competing in the same space as private broadcasters, we can say quite simply that CBC Music exists to serve Canadians, musicians and our cultural community in a rapidly expanding digital environment.

We will be submitting a comprehensive response to the CRTC and in that response, among other relevant points, we will touch upon…

  1. The distinctiveness of the service. No other service features such a wide range of editorial content and context along with music;
  2. The importance of CBC Music in showcasing and promoting Canadian artists;
  3. The vital role we play in the Canadian music ecosystem; and
  4. The benefit of having Canadian music promoted and showcased alongside major artists from around the world.

On that note, an important piece of our strategy involves showcasing Canadian artists side-by-side with the best in international music. It allows us to promote Canadian talent effectively to a broad audience of music fans, it's consistent with how people consume music and most importantly, it's what the artists and their labels have told us they want from CBC.

Before we launched CBC Music, we talked personally with many artists, managers, and music labels. There was not a SINGLE artist, manager or music label who told us that they would prefer to be showcased in an exclusively Canadian service. They have all expressed strong support for having their music played with their international peers and in fact, have suggested that a "Canadian only" service would be doing them a disservice, that it would only serve to ghettoize Canadian content.

CBC Music's capacity to deliver multiple digital streams also provides Canadian listeners with more of the great classical, jazz, world and other genres of music we cannot serve solely through CBC's broadcast radio service. Listeners have told CBC repeatedly that the distribution of music in these genres is important as a public service, although they are not always Canadian content.

CBC is providing a service that is distinct in the marketplace, one not currently on offer by other broadcasters. It goes far beyond live streaming - providing places for Canadians to connect with fans of their favourite genre, combining the power of music with video, photos, concert tour info and user contributions.

Simply put, CBC Music is a world-class service Canadians should expect from their public broadcaster.

Kirstine Stewart
Executive vice-president, CBC English Services

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