Justin Bieber Wouldn’t Count as Canadian Under Canada’s Stringent Streaming Protection Bill

Canada streaming bill
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Canada streaming bill
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Photo Credit: Ryan

A new bill aimed at streaming more Canadian music in Canada may exclude artists like Justin Bieber. Here’s why.

Bill C-11 is currently making its way through the Canadian Parliament. But according to Spotify, the rules laid out in that bill may exclude Ontario-born artist Justin Bieber and other popular Canadian artists. That’s because songs must meet specific criteria to be considered ‘Canadian content.’

According to the current rules, a song must meet two of the following criteria to be considered Canadian:

  • Must be written entirely by a Canadian
  • Performed principally by a Canadian
  • Be broadcast or performed live in Canada
  • Have lyrics written entirely by a Canadian

Justin Bieber’s song “Ghost,” only meets one of those requirements under this Canada streaming bill. Traditional broadcasters already cannot count the song as Canadian content and if C-11 passes, music streaming services like Spotify won’t be able to count it as Canadian either. Spotify argues that these arbitrary rules may end up excluding actual Canadians from the Canada playlists.

“It’s important to understand that today’s music world is international in nature, involving the collaboration of artists from across the globe,” says Nathan Wiszniak, Spotify’s Head of Canadian Artist & Label marketing. “Under current Canadian content definitions, many songs that we know and love from Canadian artists would not be classified as Canadian.”

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has stated he has plans to ask the broadcast regulator to review the definition of Canadian content. If The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does revise the definition, it won’t happen until the bill passes through Parliament.

Spotify curates around 90 playlists aimed at spotlighting Canadian artists across several genres. Spotify says it uses a range of metrics to verify whether a song should be considered for inclusion in a playlist highlighting Canadian content.

“This means that we carry a much wider category of tracks we have identified as Canadian compared to what we believe would be classified as Canadian under current definitions,” Wiszniak says about Spotify’s Canadian playlists. “We are concerned that unless the Canadian content requirements are updated, this bill could limit the exposure of emerging and beloved Canadian artists, and, in turn, cause the overexposure of others, pushing listeners away.”

Bill C-11 has passed through the House of Commons and is being scrutinized in the Senate. The bill will be discussed after the Senators return from their summer break.