Claire Henocque: ” Containment has accelerated the trend of digital live consumption”

Claire Henocque, Paris, june 2020
Founder and manager of Tour Makers, an international booking agency specialising in world music.

During the confinement period, some artists decided to play live digitally, especially on social media, and to offer us their music. In France, SACEM has signed agreements with Facebook and Instagram, which allows artists to
receive a minimal brute remuneration. But unfortunately there is still no business model and artists are earning too little money. This is problematic, especially in times of confinement, with the cessation of show business already
pushing artists into precarious situations. Youtube poses the same kind of problem: artists earn very little money on video views. It is therefore imperative to find an economic model that works before we find ourselves in a
situation similar to that of the early 2000s, when CDs began to decline in favour of downloading and streaming.

Containment has accelerated the trend of digital live consumption and highlighted the dangers of this system. Today Facebook is starting to develop a ticketing system for its digital live music, but it is still in its infancy and there is no evidence that it will be viable in the long run. Artists are therefore producing content and distributing it for free. Live digital also raises the question of the role of booking agencies, which usually organise tours for “physical” artists. Today, all concert recordings are made by labels, since they are the holders of
the exploitation rights.

During containment, many festivals, having cancelled their outdoor events, have asked artists to perform on their platform as a replacement without offering them a fee. If we want the whole sector (artists, touring artists and the
professionals around them) to be able to make a living from their activity, it seems important to me to make a clear distinction between what is promotional and can therefore be done free of charge and what is artistic content and must be paid for. I would tend to argue that the GAFA and Internet service providers should be taxed to help finance the creation and production of artistic content: a major undertaking that can only be carried out by governments if it is to have any chance of success.

Still A-live! During this unprecedented period of confinement, the Show-me team has gone to meet musicians and cultural players to question them and take the pulse of what they’re thinking. What is or should be the status of the artist? What are possible remunerations? What evolution is possible after the crisis?

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