While the music industry continues to focus on a so-called “value gap” that does not reflect the state of Canadian law, mounting data also suggests that it does not provide an accurate depiction of the revenues being generated in Canada today from Internet streaming. SOCAN, Canada’s largest music copyright collective, last week reported preliminary numbers for 2018, with the data indicating that Internet streaming revenues have now hit $62 million, likely surpassing both radio and television royalties as its second largest source of domestic revenues. In fact, Internet streaming now accounts for 22 per cent of SOCAN’s domestic revenues and will almost certainly become its largest domestic revenue source in 2019.
The growth of Internet streaming revenues in Canada runs counter to the oft-heard lobbying efforts that seek to paint the Internet as harming artists’ interests. SOCAN did not report any Internet streaming revenues as recently as 2012 (which coincides with the last round of Canadian copyright reform). Armed with a performing rights licence for Youtube and an agreement that made it easier to members to receive additional money for music posted to the video site, SOCAN Internet streaming revenues began to appear in 2013 at $3.4 million. That has grown significantly every year since: $12.4 million in 2014, $15.5 million in 2015, $33.8 million in 2016, $48.6 million in 2017, and now $62 million in 2018. Along the way, Internet streaming revenues have overtaken overtaken cinema, pay audio, private copying, satellite radio, general, concert, television, and radio.
Internet streaming revenues may make for a convenient target when it comes to lobbying for copyright reform, but the reality tells a far different story. SOCAN points to 8 per cent growth in domestic revenues last year, but Internet streaming grew by 27 per cent and accounted for 64 per cent of increased domestic revenues. In fact, since the 2012 copyright reforms, Internet streaming revenues have gone from nothing to accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 dollars collected by SOCAN from domestic sources.