Quebec artists claim to be left behind in favor of Anglophones

The singer-songwriters are seeking $2 million in damages and their representatives are 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.

Francophone artists in Quebec estimate that from 2019 to 2021, they face a 45% shortfall due to a SOCAN calculation system that they consider unfair.

It is clear that Quebec has been underrepresented in SOCAN’s allocation systems over the years. »

A quote Part of a letter signed by Quebec artists

13 people signed 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 reviewed its calculation method in November 2021, but artists complain that they have not received financial compensation for the 18 months the old formula was in effect.

Socon board chair Mark Ouellet responded in an email to Radio-Canada.

Many songs on the radio, but revenue is declining

Singer-songwriter Vincent Valliers initially believed his songs were getting less airplay when he saw his royalty income curve decline. But, after checking, the songs were aired as before.

In an interview with Radio-Canada, he said, “This situation is not acceptable. “It’s really important.”

Vincent Valliers was one of the signatories of the letter.

Photo: Little Russian

It’s like I’m telling you that you’re going to create one work, But I will give 45% discount on your wages […] Thousands of dollars are at stake. »

A quote Vincent Vallieres, singer-songwriter, is one of the signatories of the letter

David Murphy, copyright manager and multi-signer at Vincent Valliers, has received calls from many clients who have noticed a decrease in income. He will soon file a class action lawsuit against SOCAN.

“The statistics clearly show that creatives in Quebec suffered during this period,” says David Murphy. “In terms of the number of listeners, a song played in Quebec made less money. »

With 25 years in the industry, the former chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Music Publishing Professionals (APEM) recalls that Quebec has fewer radio stations than the rest of Canada and therefore broadcasts fewer songs. , but they’re bigger, so they contribute more to SOCAN.

If Quebec doesn’t get its fair share, the rest of Canada gets more than its share. »

A quote David Murphy, Music and Audiovisual Rights Manager

“No market is affected in the same way by a change in distribution rules,” says Sogan.

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

Such changes are obviously not an indication that the previous rules were unfair, but evidence that SOCAN follows the evolution of the market and the tools available for analytical purposes in order to grant royalty payments. and as accurate as possible for its members and customers. »

A quote Mark Ouellet, Chair of SOCAN’s Board of Directors

Discrimination against Francophones?

In a formal notice sent to SOCAN in April 2022, the attorney representing David Murphy and his clients referred to “unlawful discrimination on the basis of language.”

“We take these allegations very seriously, and honesty and transparency are at the heart of SOCAN’s values,” said Marc Ouellet of SOCAN.

“Retroactive adjustment means getting money back from some Quebec-based members who benefited from the old rule,” he adds.

According to David Murphy, English-speaking artists in Quebec were able to benefit from the old system. Although they lost money when their songs were aired in Quebec, they benefited when they were in the rest of Canada.

French-speaking artists were unable to benefit as they were rarely heard on radio stations in other provinces.

Marie-Denis Pelletier sings at the microphone.

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

Image: Gravity

“It’s not just the amount [d’argent]It’s a matter of principle,” singer-songwriter Mary Denise Pelletier told Radio-Canada.

Not sure why creators in Quebec would pay creators in other parts of Canada. It is sloppy. »

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

SOCAN’s rules of distribution are approved by the board of directors, one-third of whose members are French speakers. “We regularly consult industry stakeholders to gain their views and perspectives,” the company promises.

“They need to be accountable,” thinks Marie Denise Pelletier. “All money created in Quebec should normally go to creators in Quebec. »

He believes that it can be discussed without going to court. Many artists are walking on eggshells because SOCAN has a monopoly on managing its radio royalty rights in Canada.

“We don’t want to alienate Chocon, but Chocon should not alienate its members,” the Quebec singer said.

SOCAN has over 180,000 members. He wants to meet with the francophone members concerned by the end of this month.

In collaboration with Louis-Philippe Ouimet

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