SOCAN, the organization responsible for collecting and distributing royalties for artists from live performances, radio airplay, TV use, and digital streaming, released a new report as the federal government debates Bill C-11, which could–should–rewrite a lot of rules for the digital age.
Over the last year, SOCAN collected over $416 million over the last year from all sources. Breaking things down, they say that the average Canadian songwriter earned $67.14 from streaming.
That’s an awfully low number but beware the math. The first reaction is shock. But hang on.
It’s extraordinarily easy for anyone to upload their music to a streaming service. That’s opened the door–potentially–to worldwide distribution for anyone with a song. Thousands of Canadian artists take advantage of that every day. Note that Spotify alone sees 60,000 new songs uploaded every day. That’s 1.8 million a month or 21.6 million a year. There’s no way to tell how many of those songs are by Canadian artists, but the number isn’t insignificant.
But just because your music is available doesn’t mean people are going to hear it. It’s estimated that 20% of all the songs ever uploaded to Spotify haven’t been streamed once. Plenty of Canadian artists inevitably fall into that category. If so many songs aren’t being heard at all, that brings the overall average payout down. Way down.
That being said, this does underscore the difficulty Canadian artists have competing in the streaming space. More specifically, it shows how hard it is for Canadian artists to get promoted in Canada. Which brings us to Bill C-11.
If the bill is passed, platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, and the rest of them will be compelled to promote Canadian music in the same ways Canadian radio stations have had to since 1971. Canadian content rules are impossible to enforce the same way they are for legacy broadcasters, but there are methods by which these platforms can put something back into Canadian music. What form might those investments take? That’s the whole point of Bill C-11.
The SOCAN report is timed nicely to turn up the heat under legislators. Let’s see if it works.