Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Deezer is partnering with French collective management society SACEM to explore the potential impact that “artist-centric” streaming royalty payment models will have on remuneration for songwriters and publishers.

In a joint announcement on Wednesday (Oct. 25), Deezer and SACEM said they were carrying out an “in depth” study that will analyze streaming data to evaluate the viability of different economic models “aimed at remunerating songwriters, composers and publishing rights owners more fairly.”

A representative for Deezer tells Billboard that the first stage of the study commenced earlier this month using data from paid subscription accounts in France in the first quarter of 2023.

The next stage of the project, which is expected to last several months and focuses purely on the French digital music market, will see Deezer and SACEM specifically evaluate the impact that an artist-centric streaming model would have on the society’s 210,000-plus members and international partners, which include Universal Music Publishing Group and Wixen Music Publishing, as well as collective management organizations (CMOs) SOCAN and ASCAP.

“Songwriters, composers and publishers play a crucial role in the music industry as the creative driving force behind the songs we love, and it’s time to evolve how we reward these efforts,” said Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira in a statement. 

The joint initiative comes less than two months after Deezer announced it was partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG) on what it calls an “artist-centric music streaming model” for recorded music.

The new artist-centric model for recorded music replaces the traditional pro-rata model whereby one stream equals one play and the total number of plays is divided up by artists and labels according to how many they each accrue.

Since launching Oct. 1, the model has been exclusively limited to France, Deezer’s home market, and, so far, only applies to artists signed to UMG and French independent label Wagram Music. However, a spokesperson for Deezer says discussions are ongoing with all labels and content providers and that the company plans to have achieved “a full rollout with all providers and countries” in 2024.

The new model promises royalty “boosts” for “professional” artists whose music is actively searched for by users, as well as boosts for artists who maintain a level of 1,000 streams per month from at least 500 unique accounts.

It also includes a monetization cap of 1,000 streams for each user, meaning that every single user’s contribution to the royalty pool is counted as 1,000 plays no matter what the actual amount is. (If a subscriber listens to 2,000 streams, for example, then their streams will count half.) Deezer says the cap will help tackle fraud and ensure that royalties are shared more fairly between artists and rights holders.

Following in Deezer’s footsteps, Spotify is understood to be planning similar changes to its streaming royalty model that will come into effect in 2024. These are reported to include introducing minimum annual stream thresholds and financial penalties for music distributors and labels committing fraudulent acts, as well as a minimum play-time length for non-music tracks, such as bird sounds or white noise, before they can generate royalties.

Over the past two years, several other streaming services, including Soundcloud and Tidal, have either introduced or announced that they are exploring different economic models to the standard pro rata streaming model following criticism from creators over low royalty payouts.

In a statement, SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber said the launch of the study into how alternative remuneration models will impact publishers, authors and composers was an “essential” development, “which we hope will make it possible to increase the value of streaming for our members.”

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