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Music fans celebrate hotly anticipated Canadian launch of ITunes
TORONTO (CP) – ITunes finally launched in Canada on Thursday, bringing with it over 700,000 songs, exclusive tracks, celebrity playlists and multiple CD burning rights.
“I’m thrilled. There goes my day,” said Kyle Moffat, a 29-year-old music enthusiast in Toronto who’d been checking the site twice weekly for a few months in anticipation of the opening. “It (about) time,” said another downloading fanatic identified as FormatC2 on the forum, which was buzzing with activity Thursday.
Apple’s paid downloading service, which offers all of its songs at 99 cents each or albums starting at $9.99, started accepting Canadian orders close to midnight EST on Wednesday night at
“The demand across Canada has been overwhelming,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice-president of applications. “We’ve had a lot of e-mail requests and calls looking for the ITunes store.”
He added that Apple’s IPod portable music player, which works jointly with the ITunes software, has been selling briskly across the country.
The launch was well received by music rights holders, who say ITunes’s popularity has encouraged people to turn away from illegal downloading sites like Kazaa.
“Anything that expands the number of legitimate legal licensed options for people to get music online, help the fight against piracy and give Canadians far more choice . . . is great,” said David Basskin of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency, one of several groups that negotiated copyright issues with Apple.
The ITunes Music Store opened in April 2003 in the U.S., servicing only Mac computers. It expanded to the Windows platform a few months later. Since then, the company says more than one hundred million songs have been purchased through the Internet.
The Canadian version of ITunes can be used with Mac and Windows.
Apple has since opened online stores in Europe as well in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
Once purchased, users can play songs on up to five personal computers, burn a song onto CDs an unlimited number of times, burn the same playlist up to seven times and listen to the music on an unlimited number of IPods. The bilingual site, which will only accept orders from those with a valid credit card with a billing address in Canada, also offers more than 9,000 audio books.
ITunes joins several other legal download sites available in Canada such as, and Quebec’s
Music fan Moffat says the others can’t beat Apple’s convenience, ease of use and exclusive track offerings. For instance, ITunes was the first to sell U2’s highly anticipated new record.
“I’ve gone through both Napster and Puretracks, I just find the selection isn’t half as good as ITunes,” said Moffat, who has 1,900 songs on his IPod. “ITunes has a lot of the old stuff . . . and it organizes music for you in a nice, clear way.”
Rick Broadhead, a technology analyst and author, expects ITunes to “blow everyone out of the water.”
“They are very quickly going to become the dominant player in online music downloading in Canada,” he said, adding that he couldn’t point to a single bad review of the service.
It’s that kind of positive word of mouth that’s helped make ITunes the market leader everywhere it’s available, says Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.
The fact that an American company could potentially swallow homegrown businesses doesn’t really matter to consumers, he added.
“People don’t buy on nationalism. People buy on what benefits something offers. What ITunes has done is create a tremendous buzz around their product. This is the product of choice.”
Toronto-based Puretracks, which also boasts a 700,000-song catalogue, responded to ITunes’s launch with an announcement that it has partnered with SaskTel and Aliant to open new online stores with the telecom companies. Puretracks prices start at 79 cents a song.
Puretracks says its local expertise, especially with the independent lables, will continue to appeal to Canadians.
“Canadians listen to Canadian music. Thirty per cent of what we here on the radio is Canadian and we tend to like it . . . in terms of Canadian content we far outstrip them,” Puretracks co-founder Alistair Mitchell said of ITunes.
However, Mitchell said anything that helps turn consumers on to paid download services is good for the whole industry.
“Choice is good. By putting three grocery stores on the same intersection, everyone benefits,” he said.