Today, Music Canada CEO Patrick Rogers appeared before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as part of multi-phase consultations to implement the Online Streaming Act.
The focus of this Phase 1 hearing, which began November 20 and is scheduled to run for three weeks, is to consider what financial contributions online music and AV streaming services – such as Spotify, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Music – should contribute to Canada’s broadcasting framework which aims to support Canadian and Indigenous content.
As outlined in Music Canada’s initial submissions to the CRTC (which you can find here) and reiterated today by Rogers, Music Canada encouraged the Commission to keep Canadian and Indigenous artists at the centre of their policy decisions. Streaming is a global marketplace where these artists are competing not only for fans and engagement in Canada but across the world. The ultimate framework should encourage and incentivize platforms to grow their on-the-ground investments and teams in Canada who play an essential role in helping these artists break through in global markets. Artists should be able to choose to work with whatever talent and businesses they see as best poised to help them achieve their creative and career goals.
Watch Rogers’ full remarks to the CRTC here, and you can ream them below.
You can follow the virtual public hearings here.
Oral Remarks of Music Canada
Presented by Patrick Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Music Canada
November 22, 2023
Good afternoon everyone,
My name is Patrick Rogers and I am the CEO of Music Canada. We are the trade association for Canada’s major labels all of whom have offices in Toronto and Montreal full of Canadians dedicated to helping Canadian artists reach and connect with their fans at home and around the world.
I am excited to take part in this hearing because we recognize that this is a once-in-a-generation regulatory process. I hope that you will take the earnestness of this presentation as respect for CRTC’s influence on the day-to-day lives of Canadians and as a desire to help you get it right.
Today, I will share with you the three key principles that make up our core understanding of the topics at hand.
The first is that while our members, who partner with Canadian artists, are not being regulated directly, the decisions you make about the platforms will profoundly impact artists and how they connect with their fans. Fundamentally, we encourage you to keep Canadian and Indigenous ARTISTS at the heart of your policy.
As leaders in the Canadian music industry, our members work closely with the platforms and their teams on the ground here. That is why we have engaged throughout the legislative and now regulatory processes to ensure that decision makers like you have the clearest view into our world to make the best policy possible.
Decisions made here will impact what Canadians listen to, who does business in this country, and the opportunities that flow to Canadian artists. For these reasons, Music Canada has submitted examples of how the platforms’ activities and investments in Canada positively impact the Canadian music industry. Financial contribution obligations must not jeopardize these investments. We believe strongly in the correlation between the platforms’ investments in people, marketing, and sponsorship in Canada and the doors that have opened for Canadian and Indigenous artists both here and abroad.
Access to markets abroad is critical, because the streaming services are global in nature. Every song by every artist in Canada is in competition with every song and every artist from around the world. Canadian artists should be given every advantage in the global streaming market, instead of being given a “Made in Canada” ceiling.
Which brings me to my second principle: We can all be proud of the accomplishments of the radio regulations created and successfully administered by the CRTC without feeling the need to port them over to the streaming age. Because the streaming space isn’t a little different from radio – it’s, in most cases, the opposite.
There is a finite number of regulated radio hours each year, whereas the amount of potential listening on streaming is infinite. While radio is programmed, streaming is based on user choice. And while the best and rarest thing that can happen to you while listening to your favourite song on the radio is that another song you like will come on – the goal of streaming algorithms is to give you an endless stream of your favourites and new titles and new artists to add to your listening repertoire.
Ultimately, the success of your work will depend on whether or not the new frameworks and funding models and criteria that you create meet the drive, innovation and immense goals of the modern artist – not the industry of the past.
Importantly, today’s streaming platforms do not represent the end of history. In my lifetime the industry has moved from $20 physical CD sales, to overwhelming piracy that nearly eradicated artists’ livelihoods, to downloads, and now to streaming. This year, the streaming platforms have moved to change some of the core fundamentals of the streaming experience for both listeners and artists. We must be cognizant that the CRTC is entering into this space at neither the nascent beginning nor the tired end.
The last principle is about timelessness.
In preparing for this once in a generation regulatory process I could not help but think of my daughters Grace and Rose and their love of the Canadian children’s performers Splash and Boots. They are what my members call super fans. They stream, they go to concerts, they wear their merch. YouTube and Spotify play their favourites, while surfacing new tracks from the group and other artists that they are also likely to love. I can report to you that they are very happy customers.
Together, right now, we could probably come up with a regulatory framework for Grace and Rose’s world today. But the challenge is infinitely larger for an entire country and, as my example shows, the framework needs to be timeless. Because my girls will need a soundtrack for their lives. We will need to go through the time-honoured traditions of not understanding the music that they like, laughing when they “discover” MY favourite artist and compromising on a roadtrip playlist. My goal is to make a future where my girls find and enjoy their favourite music on world class licensed services, that pay artists when their music is played, and that give them the best music that Canada and the world have to offer. And importantly, that we never have to have a conversation about VPN’s, piracy or geo hopping to get around Canadian rules to do it.
I thank you for your time and welcome any questions that you may have.