Jean-Pierre and the Copyright Collection Society.
Jean-Pierre goes to the Pirate Bay and downloads our new record. A few weeks later, he sees that we’re playing in his hometown and decides to come and see us play.
We play a great show (as always!) and Jean-Pierre makes his way over to the merch table and buys a CD. What a nice guy!
This kind of thing happens all the time.
BUT…. what most people don’t know is that the music venue is legally obliged to pay public performance rights to SACEM (France’s Copyright Collection Society) in order to have bands play live music in their venue.
So we often have to fill out a form, providing details on all the songs we played to ensure SACEM can find the songwriter and pay them their money.
“But we are the songwriters” we cry! “Just give us the money directly, why don’t you? It would save everyone a lot of time (and money) wouldn’t it”?
But that would be far too easy.
So the venue pays SACEM and SACEM tells us we can get the money back (minus some reasonable administration fees of course, like their President’s €750,000 annual salary for instance!) if we pay them a member’s fee.
But we had already come across SACEM before when we had our CD’s we sell on our merch table manufactured.
In order to have CD’s made in France, you’re legally obliged to fill out an SDRM form (which is handled by SACEM). CD Manufacturers won’t press your CD’s without prior authorization from SACEM.
If the songs are not listed in their database, you don’t have to pay them anything but if they are (because maybe you became a SACEM member in order to get your public performance money from your live performances) they’ll make you pay a Mechanical Royalty.
So we fill out the forms and they tell us we have to pay the mechanical royalties to them so that they can pay the songwriter for the privilege of having their music on our CD.
“But we are the songwriters dude! So why don’t we just give the money to ourselves?!” Again, that would be too easy!
Let’s summarize what just happened here. The Copyright Collection Society makes the artist pay them to have their own CD’s manufactured, takes a portion of their live revenues and then uses the money to sue the guy who came to the gig and bought a CD!
This is what is wrong with the music business.