French Senator Julien Bargeton has presented Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak with a report that recommends a new tax on music streaming in France. Our translated quote indicates that he thinks it’s partly about preservation of French music culture, hypothesising that if, “we only have a choice between content that is produced by other great powers, (…) that our cultural heritage as well as our contemporary creation are no longer those to which we have access, we are changing the world drastically.”
French newspaper Les Echos reports that the changes are also aimed at making French pop music – or “F-Pop” – a global success. The tax would raise an extra €20 million from paid and free streaming, and €6 million from classical music. Bargeton argues that consumers won’t notice: the mooted tax would be set at 1.75% of the streaming platforms music revenues. The SNEP, which represents the interests of 93 record companies and labels in France, isn’t so sure, saying that the report (via automated translation), “leaves music in the lurch,” and says that its recommendations are based on “an erroneous analysis of the current dynamics of streaming and its players.”
The SNEP also dismisses the concept of “F-Pop” as “a state pop” that is “detrimental to musical diversity.” Alexandre Lasch, Director General, said: “Going along with the report would mean a failure of public policy support for our national and European champions at a time when they are facing competition from new entrants such as TikTok, who keep their audiences captive without paying creators.” (Again, an automated translation.)
The slightly protectionist feel to these recommendations are not unique to France: the proposed Canadian law, Bill C-11, that would force streaming platforms to feature more Canadian content has seen criticism from YouTube’s head of music, Lyor Cohen, amongst others – although Canadian collecting society SOCAN is in support of it. There’s a feeling that attempts at regulated change are looming over how streaming platforms work: whether that’s how they collect money, pay it out, recommend music – or a combination of all three. Startups famously move fast and break things; when they become the established industry, those breakages become part of daily life and thus come within the sphere of political influence.