Apple Launches iTunes in Canada (UPDATED)

After acknowledging the company had missed the November target for the Canadian version of the iTunes Music Store, Apple Computer quietly launched the service late Wednesday night. The iTMS Canada will serve some 32 million potential customers, and brings the number of countries having access to the iTMS to 14.

The company is charging CDN 99 cents for individual music tracks. Apple said the Canadian service will feature over 700,000 songs.

"The demand across Canada for the iTunes Music Store has been overwhelming," said Eddy Cue, Appleis vice president of Applications, in a prepared statement. "We are excited to be able to offer music fans in Canada their own customized iTunes Music Store featuring many top Canadian artist exclusives."

It is not immediately known how large the library of Canadian artists is.

The launch did not meet Appleis self-imposed deadline of opening the Canadian iTMS by the end of November. The company said in late October it would launch in Canada last month. Apple has been advertising on Canadian television networks for the past 10 days, whetting the appetites of those north of the American border who have been waiting for their own iTunes online store for over a year.

David Basskin, president of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), told The Mac Observer the iTMS coming to Canada is a welcome addition.

"Weive been looking forward to iTunes opening in Canada since the day it was announced," Mr. Basskin said. "We think that giving people more and more opportunity to buy music from legitimate online providers is the best weapon against music piracy. Anything that grows the market is fine with us."

CMRRA represents the people who own many of the songs that will be sold on the iTMS in Canada, including music publishers. The agency also partners with the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada (SODRAC) and other foreign music catalogs. CSI is a joint undertaking of CMRRA and SODRAC, and as such, negotiated the contract with Apple.

Mr. Basskin told TMO his agency has completed an agreement with Apple over reproduction sales in Canada, but would not discuss financial details or the tone of the negotiations.

"The CSI-Apple agreement makes the repertoires of both CMRRA and SODRAC available to Apple in a single transaction, and is an unprecedented development," he said. "This is the first deal, although it wonit be the last, in Canada offering licensees an unprecedented number of songs from both ourselves and SODRAC, drastically reducing the cost and complexity of licensing."

In total, both groups represent more than 85% of the music available in Canada.

Mr. Basskin said he does not know initially how many Canadian artists will have their music sold on Appleis iTMS. "Apple hasnit told me what Canadian-produced music they will or will not sell," he said.

Apple joins three other existing music services in Canada, but is the only service available to Macintosh owners. Archambault.ca, Napster.ca, and Puretracks.com have been operating in Canada for less than year. Their prices are generally around CDN$1.00 per track.

Archambault is primarily a Quebec-oriented service catering to French-speaking Canadians.

Napster charges CDN$1.19 for individual tracks and also offers a monthly subscription service for CDN$9.95. Apple has decided not to offer a subscription service, saying customers want to own their tracks and not rent them.

iTunes Music Store Key Dates
April 28, 2003 Apple launches the online iTunes Music Store in the U.S.
May 6, 2003 One million songs sold on iTMS
May 14, 2003 Two million songs sold on iTMS
June 23, 2003 Five million songs sold on iTMS
September 8, 2003 Ten million songs sold on iTMS
October 16, 2003 Apple & Pepsi launch giveaway of 100 million free songs
October 20, 2003 One million copies of iTunes for Windows downloaded in less than four days
November 6, 2003 1.5 million songs sold on iTMS in one week
December 15, 2003 25 million songs sold on iTMS
March 15, 2004 50 million songs sold on iTMS
April 28, 2004 Over 70 million songs sold on iTMS
May 5, 2004 3.3 million songs sold on iTMS in one week
June 15, 2004 Apple launches iTMS in UK, France & Germany
June 23, 2004 iTMS in Europe sells 800,000 songs in first week
July 12, 2004 100 million songs sold on iTMS
August 10, 2004 iTMS catalog tops one million songs
October 14, 2004 150 million songs sold on iTMS
October 26, 2004 Apple launches iTMS in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain
December 1, 2004 Apple launches iTMS in Canada

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