More Than 200 Quebec Musicians Demand Government Action Against Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Other Streaming Giants

Quebec musician Pierre LaPointe
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Quebec musician Pierre LaPointe
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Quebec musician Pierre LaPointe

Over 200 musicians signed a letter demanding that the Québécois government take action so that they can receive fair compensation from music streaming services such as Spotify.

Recording industry revenues are surging, with the US-based market enjoying $5.4 billion in revenues during the first six months alone.  The situation is similarly buoyant in Canada, but not everyone is profiting equally from this growth.  According to measly stats recently shared with Digital Music News, Spotify pays music artists a paltry $0.004 per stream on average.

This means that an artist would have to get far more than 300,000 streams in a month to earn $1,500, which is the equivalent of a minimum wage job.  That has stirred loud protests from superstar artists, including Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke.  But smaller artists are feeling the pinch the most, regardless of the geographic region.

Now, artists in Quebec are banding together to demand government action against lowly streaming payouts.  Just this week, a diverse collection of local singers, songwriters, producers, publishers and managers penned an open letter demanding change.  This includes Pierre Lapointe (pictured), Michel Rivard, Lousie Forestier and LOUD.

The group acknowledged that the advent of music streaming had greatly increased consumers’ choices and access to music.  But it’s becoming difficult for them to make a living because of it.  They added that this has led to a dramatic decrease in living conditions for many of them.

“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 artists also indicated that music streaming has caused a steep decrease of their album sales, without providing a sufficient revenue stream to offset this.

According to them, “It does not come close to paying proper value for our music.”

“The sales of albums have radically dipped and there hasn’t been enough online revenue to compensate for those losses — far from it in fact! We estimate that a million online plays generates around $5,000, a pathetic amount, and that has to be split by the songwriters, the singers and other industry professionals. It does not come close to paying proper value for our music.”

The letter further complained about how foreign companies like Spotify — unlike Canadian companies — are not required to invest in local productions. The artists believe that these companies benefit from Canadian markets without having to comply with its laws.

“These companies have become major players in our industry but they continue to prosper without having to respect our laws — and that goes far beyond simply the fiscal inequality of the situation.”

The final and perhaps most important point the music artists in Quebec are trying to make is that without viable music artists there will be no music, and everyone will suffer as a consequence of this, including music streaming services.


18 Responses

  1. ANON

    Yeah No SHIT!!!
    Where Have You Guys Been?
    This Article Doesn’t Come CLOSE To The Tertiary We Have Experienced
    Not Just Streaming Services The Social Media Services Too

  2. MG


    Québecois people doing what they do best: complaining.

    To hell being accountable and finding ways to improve the situation, call in the mighty government to help, it will solve everything!

    • Sam

      Another non-musician troll doing what they do best – mocking people to try and get attention and feel smart. Alas, another total fail on both attempts.

  3. Tom Hendricks

    Looks like hundreds more just joined the music revolution against the Big 3 Labels and for all musicians.

  4. Dean Hajas

    I’d like to invite Digital Music News to cover the Copyright © Infringement Action launched by Dean Hajas May 23. Defendants SONY / Universal – Pharrell Williams – Chad Hugo – Dave Aude – Matt Haywood of HHO Publishing – Robert John Mutt Lange in Federal Court doc T- 864 – 19.
    Senior Vice President of EMI Publishing points fingers at the Zomba records commissioned remix of the 2001 Britney Spears / I’m A Slave 4 U released in 2005 known as Slave Driver / B in the mixes. Plaintiff Dean Hajas brought 74 songs in total to London UK ?? in 2001 and 4 years later identified with the Original Track “Higher You Take Me” written on the kurzweil k2000 s keyboatd / sequencer / sampler on March 2nd 2000.
    As the Conservatorship looms over Britney Spears, the timing of the escalation in her personal and professional life seem very correlated.
    It would be a very large eye opener for Britney to hear the comparisons and have revelation for herself.
    Pass this along Paul to the Britney Camp .. I’ll provide a thumb drive with the musicology performed.

  5. Anonymous

    All musicians need to band together and remove all of their music. Ek the owner of Spotify is a billionaire while the musicians get paid fractions of a penny!

    • Blobbo

      absolutely this boycott is what needs to happen. There’s actually very little marketing benefit from posting on Spotify.

  6. Blobbo

    What needs to happen is a collective of musicians need to get together and start their own regional streaming service, and it has to be like a bus card, NOT all you can eat subscription. The prices can be very cheap, BUT each play goes to the artists, not some micropercentage bullshit like they do at Spotifarce.

    You get 100 plays for whatever price, and you can buy the song outright for XXX. Apple needs to NOT close down the buy per song store. They really need to abort that mission. Subscription model NEEDS TO BE DESTROYED, unless it’s like $50 month! God, these companies are run by industry-destructive assholes.

    • Blobbo

      Not just the musicians, but the musicians petition a regional govt, like Quebec or all of Canada to create such a service, with a grant and ongoing support etc. Musicians can post for a fee, or for a percentage of sales (10%). One way or the other. They control their own graphic presence, pricing etc.

  7. Jane

    Good on you Quebec. This action now needs to spread worldwide.

  8. Johnny

    “most important point the music artists in Quebec are trying to make is that without viable music artists there will be no music” WRONG!! Just millions and millions of new songs recorded by Amateur musicians! Mostly dreadful music, kinda like what’s on the radio now, LOL!

  9. Versus

    Agreed on musicians need to pull together on this and other pressures to the industries (music industry + tech industry). It’s similar to other fields of work where the workers have to pull together to demand a “living wage”. Of course, coming up with the exact numbers is a bit arbitrary, but in my view it is clearly on the very low side in terms of pay-outs.

    Also there is the issue of transparency. Most of the accounting of the streaming services (like accounting of labels before) is kept intentionally mysterious to the musicians themselves, so basically the companies can change the pay-out rate at will. So that suggests need for a minimum pay-per-stream or statutory pay rate. Furthermore, who knows if plays are even counted accurately?

  10. BAC

    Why do you write these stupid, fucking articles? You must be completely retarded to think that being a musician is like being somebody who works for wages and is entitled to some kind of “minimum wage” just by being a band in Quebec and releasing some shitty music on Spotify that nobody cares about. What a fucking joke.

    • Ted

      Your BAC is over the legal limit and it shows. “Retarded”? Go back under your bridge. You either didn’t read or didn’t comprehend the article. Back to skool for you! As always, the issue is fair pay.

      • BAC

        Fuck off, you retarded Socialist. The issue isn’t “fair pay” because what constitutes “fair pay” isn’t mentioned.

        You want Spotify and other companies to “invest in local productions”? What the fuck is that? You’re so entitled with your protection racket on Canuck radio that you think it should apply to on-demand streaming services.

        Go bend over for your Dear Leader, JUSTIN BLACKFACE, the evil spawn of his village bicycle whore of a mama and Fidel Castro.

        • Ted

          Again, showing your true colors – empty. You’ve got nothing of value to say with that kind of talk. One day – grow up.

  11. Jeff

    The situation is worse than what was reported. An artist I work with has seen Spotify’s payment per-stream decrease each month over the last 6 months. Two months ago it dropped below $.003 per-stream. Last month it was $.00291