These singer-songwriters demand compensation of 2 million dollars and their representative threatens a class action lawsuit against the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), the organization that redistributes musical royalties to artists received on the radio.
Francophone artists in Quebec estimate that, from 2019 to 2021, they had a deficit of 45% due to a SOCAN calculation method that they consider unfair.
” It is clear that Quebec has been underrepresented for many years in SOCAN allocation methods. »
The 13 signatories of the letter :
Cœur de Pirate, Louis-Jean Cormier, Corneille, Elisapie, Louise Forestier, Ariane Moffatt, Marjo, Klô Pelgag, Marie Denise Pelletier, Gilles Vigneault, Vincent Vallières, Florent Vollant and Richard Séguin.
SOCAN revised its calculation method in November 2021, but the artists complain that they did not obtain financial compensation for the 18 months that the old formula was in force.
“It would be inappropriate and unwarranted to make any retroactive adjustments,” SOCAN board chairman Marc Ouellette responded in an email to Radio-Canada.
So many songs on the radio, but less and less revenue.
Singer-songwriter Vincent Vallières initially believed his songs were getting less radio play when he discovered his royalty income curve had flattened. But, after checking, the songs were broadcast as much as before.
“This situation is not acceptable,” he said in an interview with Radio-Canada. “It’s really important. »
” It’s like I’m telling you that you’re going to do a worked, but I’ll take 45% of your pay […] Thousands of dollars are at stake. »
Copyright manager for Vincent Vallières and several signatories, David Murphy, has received calls from several other clients who have noticed a drop in revenue. He will soon file a class action lawsuit against SOCAN.
“The figures clearly show that Quebec creators suffered damage during this period,” says David Murphy. “In terms of listeners reached, a song played in Quebec generated less money. »
In the field for 25 years, the former president of the board of directors of the Association of Music Publishing Professionals (APEM) recalls that there are fewer radio stations in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, so they broadcast fewer songs , but ‘ are bigger, so they contribute more to SOCAN.
” If Quebec doesn’t get its fair share, that means the rest of Canada has gotten more than its fair share. »
“No market is uniform in the way it is affected by a change in distribution rules,” SOCAN qualifies.
The company adds that it periodically changes its calculation methods to reflect music consumption habits and new technologies.
” Such changes are obviously not a sign that the previous rules have been unfair, but simply proof that SOCAN is following the evolution of the market and the tools available for analysis purposes to adapt to them in order to provide royalty payments in a fair manner. consistent and timely. and accurate as possible to its members and customers. »
Discrimination against Francophones?
In a formal notice sent to SOCAN in April 2022, the attorney representing the interests of David Murphy and his clients refers to “unlawful discrimination based on language.”
“We take these allegations very seriously, and fairness and transparency are at the heart of SOCAN’s values,” said SOCAN’s Marc Ouellet.
It adds that “retroactive adjustments would mean recovering money from certain Quebec-based members who benefited from the previous rule.”
According to David Murphy, English-speaking artists in Quebec have been able to benefit from the old method. Even if they lost money when their songs aired in Quebec, they would have profited when they were in the rest of Canada.
A rebalancing that French-speaking artists have not been able to benefit from, since they are barely heard on radio stations in other provinces.
“It’s not just the amount [d’argent]it’s a matter of principle,” singer-songwriter Marie Denise Pelletier told Radio-Canada.
” I don’t see why creators from Quebec would pay for creators from the rest of Canada. That makes no sense. »
SOCAN’s distribution rules are approved by the Board of Directors, whose members are one-third French-speaking. We regularly consult with industry stakeholders for their comments and perspectives.
“They will be held accountable”, thinks Marie Denise Pelletier. “All money generated in Quebec should normally go to Quebec creators. »
She “hopes that it can be discussed without going to court.” Many artists walk on eggshells because SOCAN has a monopoly on managing their radio royalty rights in Canada.
“We don’t want to alienate SOCAN, but SOCAN shouldn’t alienate its members,” said the Quebec singer.
SOCAN has 180,000 members. He intended to meet with concerned francophone members at the end of the month.
With the collaboration of Louis-Philippe Ouimet
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