Bill C-11 on online streaming is not making a splash, but it is nonetheless of paramount importance to the survival of our creators and the future of our culture.
This new law, which aims to refresh the broadcasting law still based on the traditional radio system, is meddling in the world of digital platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, Amazon Music, and, others.
These platforms have replaced the old record stores, which means music and song artists are reaping crumbs from the digital giants. But these platforms are also dissemination tools. And if nothing is done to highlight the content they offer, artists will continue to settle for crumbs. Or worse yet, change jobs.
The latest attempt by the federal government (Bill C-10) to shake things up failed. The work started by Steven Guilbeault died in the order document when the election was called. This time, it is Pablo Rodríguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, who carries the ball. Let’s hope he does better than his predecessor.
In recent days, big names in the music industry have had the opportunity to express their vision. Discreetly, some fifteen organizations presented their point of view during a day of hearings held last Tuesday in Ottawa.
The Quebec Record, Entertainment and Video Industry Association (ADISQ) were among them. I read the brief that was presented. We’re asking platforms to offer more visibility to Quebec song creators to ensure more distribution and, by extension, more sales.
To support its position, ADISQ commissioned a survey from the Léger Marketing firm, which I obtained. We learned that 73% of Quebecers agree that “governments should enact laws to ensure that online music platforms contribute to the financing of music as traditional radio stations do.”
In addition, 70% of those surveyed “like to be offered French-speaking Quebec music on listening services.”
The other objective, pursued by some Québec organizations, is to contribute to creation and production. At the moment, the Canada Music Fund and the Canada Media Fund, the organizations that allow creators to receive grants, are financed by contributions from radio and television. “Digital platforms completely escape this,” explains Eve Paré, general director of ADISQ. “They do not contribute to the development of Canadian content. »
Artists desperately need things to change, because the money they could make back in the days of record stores doesn’t compare at all to the meager profits they make today. “Quebec artists find themselves immersed in a repertoire that contains millions of titles,” continues Eve Paré. At the time of the record stores, Quebec records accounted for 50% of sales. Today, with the platforms, it has dropped to around 8%. »
You should know that for one million streams, the label that produced the record will receive between $740 and $7,800 depending on the platform (Apple offers the most). Therefore, it is necessary to obtain several million plays to obtain a substantial sum.
How to showcase Quebec artists would depend on the various platforms, depending on their business model. This could be through the playlists, the recommendation engine, or the storefront.
Do we dare to include in this bill (as foreseen by C-10) content offered on social networks such as TikTok or YouTube? This question runs the risk of dividing and complicating the work. But also to complicate the task of the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission, which would be in charge of applying these new regulations.
In this battle, ADISQ is not the only one leading it. Jérôme Payette, general director of the Association of Music Publishing Professionals, also gave a speech last Tuesday in which he said: “If our music does not reach the public, this creates a domino effect that affects concert ticket sales. , the cover of songs by other performers, the incorporation of music in audiovisual productions, and above all other sources of income. »
I also spoke a few days ago with Jean-Christian Céré, head of member services for the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada. “We want there to be a reference in the digital world and to generate volume. There are seven million of us in Quebec, it takes clicks for an artist to make a living from the song. »
Eve Paré was going to Ottawa to defend ADISQ’s position. But she discovered that another battle was brewing: that of resistance from Anglophones in the rest of Canada who don’t see things the same way. According to her, the debate is dividing.
“It’s an epic game being played in Ottawa right now,” he told me. Our libertarian friends in Alberta, who are in favor of free internet, are against any form of regulation of the platform. They are fed by the platforms that, for their part, want to evade any regulation. »
We have witnessed the same phenomenon in Europe by the digital giants when certain countries have established regulations to regulate copyright.
They use unfair disinformation tactics. They tell those who produce content for TikTok or YouTube that the regulation will harm them. These people are terrified of losing their meager income.
On Tuesday, the Quebec government filed a motion to support this bill. All the support will be necessary if we want to lead a real fight against those who now pull the strings of the music industry.
We have lost some links in the last two decades and we have the unpleasant impression that this industry does not belong to us anymore, that we are only “content providers”.
A people that no longer have control over their culture is a lost people. It is well known. That is why this law must be enacted.
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