Online music in CanadaOnline platforms that allow users to discover and share new music, and create new business opportunities for advertisers, are seen as a growth market by broadcasters and music publishers alike, reported Mediacaster Magazine today.  Canadian Music Week sponsor Slacker, as well as Rdio, Spotify, Pandora and Jango are just a few of the unaffiliated new streaming music services available in Canada; now, leading broadcasters are joining the game and launching their own music brands online. Astral Radio is leading the way among radio broadcasters in Canada with confirmation of its plans to launch a new on-demand music and music video streaming service. CBC has already announced its plans for the launch of a new digital music service, with online programming and on-demand services, based on recent agreements AVLA, the International Audio-Video Licensing Agency. Shaw Media recently made its own online music announcement, as well.

The new Astral service will be accessible from its radio station websites and on mobile devices.

It’s being launched by all of the Virgin Radio stations in Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver), the NRJ network across Quebec, and various other Canadian Top 40 format Astral stations, such as HOT 103 and the Sun fm network. Available online now, the service will be available on mobile devices this spring.

After launching the first Virgin Radio station in North America in August 2008, Astral introduced three additional stations under the same banner to create a four-station Virgin Radio network in the key Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montréal markets.

The network was described as generating a great deal of enthusiasm among listeners and advertisers that translated into increased market shares and advertising sales.

In August 2009, the 10 Énergie network stations in Québec adopted a new brand image, becoming NRJ under an agreement with Groupe NRJ, a major global private radio group with operations in 12 countries, over 400 frequencies reaching 17 million listeners and unique multiplatform expertise.

That agreement gave NRJ listeners throughout Québec access to exclusive on-air and online content.

The new Astral service will enable listeners to access different musical content in audio and video formats, the company reports. It will also offer weekly releases, exclusive content, a music video library and customizable playlist functions, as well as specialized web radio channels.

Astral says its on-demand player will exploit all the opportunities that social media present so that music lovers can share their discoveries and their favourites on a variety of social media platforms.

The on-demand player has been made possible thanks to agreements concluded between Astral Radio and four major music labels. Some agreements have been signed in Quebec. Astral Radio also counts on announcing agreements with the main Quebec record labels over the coming months.

Radio continues to be the primary source of music discovery for fans. We are very excited to offer our listeners multiple ways to discover, enjoy and share their music. We also value our relationship with the music industry and look forward to working together in breaking new artists,” said Rob Farina, Executive Vice-President, Content, at Astral Radio.

A major campaign to promote the service is planned on participating radio stations, all Cineplex theatre screens across Canada, as well as a digital online marketing campaign.

Advertisers will also have the opportunity to integrate their brand and/or their offer with this exclusive musical service in several ways. Advertisers will also be able to sponsor different sections of the site, such as artist of the month, exclusive interviews, countdowns and the web radio channels.

In addition to extending the experience with their favourite radio brand online, Astral Radio’s on-demand player will offer advertisers new business opportunities via the multiplatform offer from Astral Radio, which already includes radio, web and mobility,” added Mario Cecchini, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Astral Radio.