Bill C-11 on online broadcasting is not making waves, but nonetheless it is paramount for the safety of our creators and the future of our culture.
Posted at 6:00 am
This new law, which aims to refresh Broadcasting Actstill based on the traditional radio system, is interfering with the world of digital platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, Amazon Music and others.
These platforms have replaced good old record stores, which means music and song artists are reaping crumbs from digital giants. But these platforms are also dispersal tools. And if nothing is done to highlight the content they offer, artists will continue to live in crumbs. Or worse, change jobs.
The federal government’s last attempt (Bill C-10) to fix things failed. The work initiated by Steven Guilbeault died on the order paper when the election was called. This time, Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, carries the ball. Hopefully it will make it better than its predecessor.
In recent days, big names in the music industry have had the opportunity to express their views. Secretly, some fifteen organizations expressed their views at a day of hearings held last Tuesday in Ottawa.
The Quebec Association of the Record, Entertainment and Video Industry (ADISQ) is among them. I read the brief presented. Typically, we ask platforms to offer more visibility to song creators from Quebec to ensure more distribution and, by extension, more sales.
To support its position, ADISQ commissioned a survey from the firm Léger Marketing, which I obtained. We found that 73% of Quebecers agree that “governments should put in place legislation to ensure that online music platforms contribute to music funding as traditional radio stations do.”
In addition, 70% of those asked “like being offered to listen to French-speaking Quebec music on listening services”.
The other goal, pursued by some particular Quebec organizations, is to contribute to creation and production. So far, the Canada Music Fund and the Canada Media Fund, the organizations that allow creators to receive grants, have been funded through contributions from radio and television. “Digital platforms are completely escaping this,” explains Eve Paré, director general of ADISQ. “They don’t contribute to Canadian content development.»
Artists desperately need things to change, because the money they can earn in the days of record stores is completely incomparable to the meager income they pocket today. “Quebec artists are drowning in a repertoire that contains millions of titles,” continues Eve Paré. During record stores, Quebec records accounted for 50% of sales. Now, on platforms, it drops to about 8%. »
You should know that for a million streams, the record company that produced the album will receive between $ 740 and $ 7,800 depending on the platform (Apple has the most to offer). So it is necessary to get a few million plays to get huge amounts.
How artists are presented in Quebec depends on different platforms, depending on their business model. This can be through playlists, the recommendation engine or the showcase.
Did we dare to include in this bill (as provided by C-10) content offered on social networks such as TikTok or YouTube? This question threatens to divide and complicate the task. But to also complicate the work of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which will be responsible for the application of these new rules.
This fight, ADISQ is not the only one to lead it. Jérôme Payette, director general of the Association of Music Publishing Professionals, also gave a speech last Tuesday in which he said: “If our music is not reaching the public, it creates a ripple effect that affects the sale of music. concert tickets, the cover of songs by other performers, the inclusion of music in audiovisual productions, and in all other sources of revenue. »
I also spoke a few days ago with Jean-Christian Céré, head of membership services at the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. “We want to have a reference in the digital world and it’s generating volume. There are seven million of us in Quebec, it takes clicks for an artist to live from the song.»
Eve Paré will travel to Ottawa to defend the ADISQ position. But he discovers that another battle is brewing: the resistance of Anglophones in other parts of Canada who don’t see things the same way. According to him, the debate is divided.
“It’s an epic game being played in Ottawa today,” he told me. Our libertarian friends from Alberta, who are for free internet, are against any form of regulation on the platform. They are clearly being fed by platforms that, for their part, want to circumvent all regulation. »
We witnessed the same phenomenon in Europe from digital giants when some countries set up regulations to regulate copyright.
They use unfair disinformation tactics. They tell content makers for TikTok or YouTube that they will be sold by regulation. These people are obviously terrified of losing their meager income.
On Tuesday, the Quebec government filed a motion to support this bill. It will take all the support if we want to lead a real battle against those who are pulling today on the strings of the music industry.
We’ve lost a few links over the past two decades and we have the unsatisfactory impression that this industry is no longer ours, that we are just “content providers”.
People who no longer have control over their culture are a lost person. It is known. This is why this law needs to be enacted.