Quebec artists claim to be disadvantaged in favor of Anglophones

These singer-songwriters are demanding compensation of two million dollars and their representative is threatening a class action lawsuit against the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), the organization that redistributes music royalties to artists. authors perceived on the radios.

Francophone artists in Quebec estimate that between 2019 and 2021, they had a 45% shortfall due to a SOCAN calculation method that they consider unfair.

It is clear that Quebec has been under-represented for many years in SOCAN’s allocation methods. »

A quote from Excerpt from the letter signed by the Quebec artists

The 13 signatories of the letter :

Pirate’s heart; Louis-Jean Cormier; Crow; Elisapie; Louise Forestier; Ariane Moffatt; Marjo; Klo Pelgag; Marie Denise Pelletier; Gilles Vigneault; Vincent Vallieres; Florent Vollant; Richard Seguin.

SOCAN reviewed its calculation method in November 2021, but artists complain of not obtaining financial compensation for the 18 months when the old formula was in effect.

“It would be inappropriate and unjustified to make any retroactive adjustment,” replied SOCAN Board Chairman Marc Ouellette in an email to Radio-Canada.

So many songs on the radio, but dwindling revenue

Singer-songwriter Vincent Vallières initially believed his songs were playing less on the radio when he found his royalty income curve had dropped. 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 major. »

Vincent Vallières is one of the signatories of the letter.

Photo: The Little Russian

It’s like I’m telling you that you’re going to make a job, but I’m going to take 45% off your paycheck. […] Thousands of dollars are at stake. »

A quote from Vincent Vallières, singer-songwriter, one of the signatories of the letter

The copyright manager of Vincent Vallières and several signatories, David Murphy, has received calls from several other clients who have noticed a drop in income. He will soon be filing a class action lawsuit against SOCAN.

“The figures clearly show that creators in Quebec were harmed 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 chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Music Publishing Professionals (APEM) recalls that there are fewer Quebec radio stations than in the rest of Canada, so they broadcast fewer songs. , but they’re bigger, so they contribute more to SOCAN.

If Quebec does not receive its fair share, that means the rest of Canada has received more than its share. »

A quote from David Murphy, music and audiovisual rights manager

“No market is uniform in the way it is affected by a change in distribution rules,” nuance SOCAN.

The company adds that it regularly changes its calculation methods to reflect music consumption habits and new technologies.

Such changes are obviously not a sign that the previous rules were unfair, but simply proof that SOCAN is following the evolution of the market and the tools available for analysis purposes in order to adapt to them in order to provide royalty payments. as consistent, timely and accurate as possible to its members and clients. »

A quote from Marc Ouellette, Chairman of SOCAN’s Board of Directors

Discrimination against Francophones?

In a formal notice sent to SOCAN in April 2022, the lawyer who represents 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.

He adds that “retroactive adjustments would mean taking money back from certain Quebec-based members who benefited from the old rule”.

According to David Murphy, English-speaking artists in Quebec have indeed been able to benefit from the old method. Even if they lost money when their songs were broadcast in Quebec, they would have benefited when they were in the rest of Canada.

A rebalancing from which French-speaking artists have not been able to benefit, since they are hardly heard on the radio stations of other provinces.

Marie-Denise Pelletier sings at the microphone.

Marie Denise Pelletier is one of the signatories of the letter.

Picture: Attraction

“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 in Quebec would pay for creators in the rest of Canada. That does not make any sense. »

A quote from Marie Denise Pelletier, Quebec singer-songwriter, signatory of the letter

SOCAN’s distribution rules are approved by the Board of Directors, one-third of whose members are French-speaking. “We regularly consult with industry stakeholders to obtain their comments and perspectives,” the Company assures.

“They will have to be accountable,” thinks Marie Denise Pelletier. “All the money generated in Quebec should normally go to creators in Quebec. »

She “hopes that it will be possible to discuss without resorting to the courts”. Many artists walk on eggshells, because SOCAN has a monopoly on the management of its 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. She intends to meet with concerned Francophone members by the end of the month.

With the collaboration of Louis-Philippe Ouimet

The article is in French

Tags: Quebec artists claim disadvantaged favor Anglophones

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