The Disappearance of Domestic Hit Single A-Listers

Remember the days when all kinds of Canadian acts, unknown outside the country, populated the domestic charts? Well, those days appear to be over.

The year-end Billboard Canadian Hot 100 annual charts began in 2008. That year, there were 15 songs with unique Canadian artists who made the cut. From 2009 to 2012, things held steady at 17 or 18 unique Canadian artist songs among the top 100 of the year. Things reached a peak in 2013 with an impressive 19. After that, we see a significant decline. The 2014 chart had 16 unique Canadian artist songs, 2015 had 13, and 2016 only 12. Cut the latter number in half and we arrive at this year, 2017’s horrifying 6. Yes, that’s all, six: Alessia Cara, Drake, Justin Bieber, Shawn Hook, Shawn Mendes, and The Weeknd, all signed to American record labels.

Coincidentally, Canada granted access to foreign streaming service Spotify in September 2014. And, suspiciously, that very same month, Nielsen decided to include streaming data in compiling the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charts. Notice too that artists and labels, both foreign and domestic, around this time began telling fans to stream their music but would mention the name of only one streaming service of the many out there. Guess which one?

There is no CanCon in streaming. And the artists who are being promoted on the services are those signed to the big U.S. record labels who can outspend everyone else in marketing.

There are rumours that Apple will be dismantling the iTunes store, an act that, if carried out, would be a major earthquake for both the music industry and music consumers. Sunrise records is selling popular CDs for as much as $25 while they have bins full of DVDs selling for $2 and Bluray discs for $5. Does it make sense for audio only to be more expensive than audio plus video? Regarding online retail, it is often dependent on credit card purchases. Studies have found that 35% of Canadians refuse to use credit cards online with all the hacking going on. Remember the massive credit card hack into the now defunct A&B Sound’s online shop?

What is becoming clear is that the music industry as a whole is making it more and more difficult for people to purchase music, a suicidal move. It is interesting to watch the entertainment media interviewing recording artists who plug their new CD, when there is nowhere to purchase it easily.

There was a major political movement that spread significantly in the 20th century. In this system, masses of people were convinced was a good idea, the state owned everything. The individual owned nothing and could only be granted access through saving up coupons, performing extra work, or providing special favours to the members of the elite. What we are seeing here is something similar happening to the music industry. The concept of owning music is being phased out by special interests. Our money doesn’t allow for ownership, only for access. And all that money is discreetly, via gradual changes, being channelled into the pockets of a single individual. His name is Daniel Ek, and he now has an individual net worth of 1.6 billion dollars.