The music industry has made a big shift to streaming and Canadian music artists are paying for it.
Streaming has changed the music industry for ever, but not for the better.
It was so gratifying to watch well-known Quebec musician Pierre Lapointe stand up for music creators on this year’s Franco Felix Awards programme, which was broadcast on C.B.C News from Montreal. Lapointe is one of Canada’s most celebrated French singer-songwriters.
Lapointe spoke out against digital streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music:
“The problem is the huge corporations who make loads of money and are not giving any of that money back to society, as they put all their money in tax havens. They’re the ones who have to make sure that money comes back to the creators to pay for the content they produce. I don’t understand how these multinational companies don’t understand this. So it’s up to the governments to make it happen, but the governments, including the Canadian government, are corrupt. They’re influenced by the lobbyists.”
He went on to say: “For a million streams on Spotify of my song Je déteste ma vie, one of my best-known songs, I made, as a songwriter, around $600.”
It’s clear to many music artists that the Government of Canada needs to ‘step up to the plate!’ Canadian music makers have been dealt a devastating blow since streaming giants have taken over the music industry, and just like anyone else, we deserve to earn a living wage.
In October, over 200 Quebec musicians signed a letter to demand the Government take action to make Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, other streaming giants pay out more to creators.
Excerpt from the letter of protest:
“For sure, the arrival of services like YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music have created a huge amount of choice and access to music like never before. Music has never been more present in our lives and that evolution is fantastic. But the paradox is that at the same time it’s become much more difficult for creators and the people around them to make a living. For many of us, our living conditions have become much worse in the last few years.”
The facts speak for themselves:
- 0.004¢ per song stream is what a songwriter makes on Spotify
- Spotify has raised its subscriber target at the end of 2019, from 255 to 270 million
- Spotify reported total revenue of €1.67bn in the second quarter of 2019, up by 31%, and 108 million subscribers (for the same quarter)
- The hit song “Happy” earned Pharrell Williams a mere $2,700 in songwriter royalties for 43 million plays streaming
– Audio Stream value - 1500 plays equal 1 album unit sale
- Video Stream value – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit sale
- 80% of music industry revenue came from streaming (2019)
- Musicians are the most followed users on social media worldwide
- Streaming on Pandora, an independent artist would need around 87, 515 plays a month to earn the US monthly minimum wage of $1,472 (approx. $9.49 Cnd per hr)
- YouTube and Apple Music pay $0.00074 and $0.0064 per stream
- In 2018, Canada had the world's sixth largest music industry
- In 1986, 26% of all global concert ticket revenue went to the top 1% of performers
- Today, it's 60% of global concert revenue that goes to the top 1% of performers
Why our government should be working for music creators to settle the disparity:
Rolling Stone reported that music makers only receive 12% of the money generated by the music industry and music superstars are the new 1%.
“The IFPI, the organization representing the interests of the global recorded music industry, has released its 2019 Global Industry Report. It indicates that global recorded music market grew by 9.7% in 2018, the fourth consecutive year of growth. The IFPI's figures show worldwide total revenues for 2018 were US$19.1 billion. Canada's recorded music market, however, appears to have stagnated.” Michael Raine, for Canadian Musician magazine.
Perhaps, even if billions of dollars are earned from streaming in Canada, streaming revenues will not sustain the Canadian music industry, if the lion’s share is going into the pockets of transnational streaming giants.
Editorial headline in the popular Montreal newspaper, Le Devoir on 30, October, 2019:
Musique en péril: le temps d’agir
Music at Risk: Time to Act
Robert Dutrisac goes on to say:
“Dominée par des sociétés transnationales, et apatrides quand il s’agit de payer leur dû en taxes et impôts, la révolution numérique est un véritable cauchemar pour l’industrie québécoise de la musique.”
Dominated by transnational corporations, who are stateless when it comes to paying their taxes, the digital revolution is a genuine nightmare for the Quebec music industry.
I would go much further and say this immense disparity is hurting the entire music industry, not just Quebec artists. Talented music artists in all of Canada have been marginalized and face poverty. I have personally seen the music industry go from being a viable income source to a financially risky bisiness since the 1990’s. We need Federal legislation to force the streaming giants to pay us our fair share.
“Pay the Band Not the Man”
Canadian Federation of Musicians - video
What's the best way to support Canadian musical creators? Buy downloads, buy CDs and albums of your favourite indie music artists!