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Canada is in the top three countries for exporting music streams worldwide, new data from Spotify SPOT-N shows, with 92 per cent of all royalties for Canadian artists generated from listeners outside the country.

Canadian artists generated more than $400-million in royalties from listeners outside Canada on Spotify in 2023, and were the top exporters of music on the platform behind the U.S. and U.K., the annual Loud & Clear report published Thursday found.

But the music streaming platform is warning that some of the most successful songs exported from Canada may not qualify as officially Canadian under Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rules.

In order to qualify as Canadian currently, a song must meet two of the following criteria: the music or lyrics must be performed principally by a Canadian; it must consist of a live performance recorded wholly in Canada, or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada; or the lyrics must be written entirely by a Canadian.

In November last year, Calgary-born artist Tate McRae’s song Greedy became the world’s most popular song on Spotify. It spent four weeks at the top of the charts with more than 860 million plays globally.

Spotify said in a blog post published Thursday the song is unlikely to be counted as Canadian. It only meets one requirement: It was performed principally by a Canadian.

The federal government has asked the CRTC to update the definition of Canadian content under the online streaming act, which passed last year.

The act will require streaming platforms including Spotify to promote Canadian music and make Canadian artists’ music easier to find online. They must also invest in Canada’s music industry.

Last year major music labels, including Universal, Sony and Warner, warned the CRTC not to enact regulations that could lead to listeners “spoofing” their online location outside the country to avoid being force fed Canadian music they don’t like.

They urged the CRTC to allow platforms such as Spotify to continue to curate music based on people’s listening tastes.

Spotify wants the current definition of Canadian content to be updated so popular songs that may not currently qualify as Canadian are able to meet the criteria.

But members of the music industry, in evidence while Bill C-11 was passing through Parliament, said it was important that Canadian artists who may not be commercially successful are promoted, so their work is more “discoverable.” This should include active promotion of French artists from Quebec.

Liana White, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Musicians, said streaming platforms should promote all Canadian music, “genre aside, from folk to commercial.”

She also said musicians deserve increased royalties from streaming platforms, so that small as well as big artists can profit.

“There needs to be increased royalties, rather than the micro-pennies they are receiving now,” she said.

The Canadian edition of the streaming platform’s Loud & Clear report found that in 2023 Canadian artists’ music was streamed by first-time listeners more than 3.8 billion times on Spotify.

Punjabi artists based in Canada are among those generating bigger followings abroad than in this country. The Canadian Punjabi music producer and composer Ikwinder Singh – known as Ikky – has gained more than two billion streams across the globe on Spotify, including 8.6 million monthly listeners.

Less than 5 per cent of his streams are played in Canada. His biggest following is in India, including in Delhi where he has 1.8 million listeners.

Ikky’s track Baller reached no. 2 on the Spotify daily charts in India and spent 14 weeks in the top 10. It was also no. 4 in Pakistan, despite only reaching no. 74 in Canada.

AR Paisley, a South Asian rapper and song writer from Ontario, gets an average of 4 million listeners on the streaming platform. Less than 5 per cent of them are based in Canada, Spotify said.

The CRTC is currently carrying out consultations about implementing the online streaming act, including how much money streaming platforms need to pay out to support the creation of Canadian content.

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