Grasping At Straws: Pablo Rodriguez Now Tries Claiming C-11 Will Save Musicians

The ridiculous claims about Bill C-11 continues to pile up. Now, supporters are claiming it will save musicians.

We’ve seen a number of ridiculous and easily debunked claims from Bill C-11 supporters. Probably the most convincing lie was that experts and observers got it all wrong and that it totally doesn’t regulate user generated content. Of course, simply reading Section 4.1(2) easily dismisses that claim as false. A second claim was that the bill doesn’t actually allow the CRTC to decide what is and is not Canadian content. That is quickly debunked by simply reading Section 4.2 of the bill. These claims kept getting repeated, and even drawn into cartoons at one point, and quickly debunked again.

From there, the claims gradually got more and more ridiculous. Another claim floating around is that the bill will allow creators to be better compensated for their work. When the Liberal party was asked how digital first creators would be able to access that money, the Liberals quickly folded and admitted that they have no idea. To this day, no answer was forthcoming about this question that we are aware of.

Another pair of claims we saw was that Bill C-11 will prevent workplace harassment and that it will allow creators to have access to their audience data. Obviously, the bill does neither of these things. What’s more is that there is no “right” to access audience data in the Canadian Charter anywhere. So, the lies about Bill C-11 by supporters continue to pile up and get laughably easier to debunked.

Well, you can add one more ridiculous and easily debunked claim to the pile. That claim is basically that artists have been getting less and less money from online streaming platforms and that Bill C-11 fixes that. (Insert audience laughter here)

The claim came from Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez:

Our musicians have had a rough ride the last couple of years. No gigs, no tours. Less income and opportunities to showcase their amazing talent. Bill C-11 will make sure more of the money Canadians pay for their music will go to the artists that create it.

(Audience laughs again)

The tweet goes to a National News Watch article saying that artists made on average $67 from platforms last year. Of course, where things start to collapse was in the cited article itself:

OTTAWA — The body representing Canada’s songwriters and composers has revealed that on average musicians writing their own material earned only $67 last year in royalties from domestic streaming services.

SOCAN, which collects the royalties of musicians including Drake, Joni Mitchell and Down with Webster, said that overall Canadians gained record royalties from streaming platforms last year.

(audience laughs more, then applauds)

This is literally two paragraphs into the article. Yes, the argument started falling apart that quickly. Oops.

Within hours, Michael Geist picked up on this flawed argument:

Remarkably misleading take on digital music revenues. SOCAN’s revenues grew last year primarily *because* of digital music streaming services. In fact, SOCAN says those revenues “more than offset the pandemic-driven downward pressure”.

Growth of SOCAN’s Internet streaming revenues is the story @pablorodriguez
should be telling:
2013: $3.4M
2014: $12.4M
2015: $15.5M
2016: $33.8M
2017: $48.6M
2018: $62M
2019: $86M
2020: $102M
2021: $135M

That is SOCAN’s data.

Geist also linked to a SOCAN posting which also had this to say:

Despite the challenges of 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in its history SOCAN’s total annual collections for licensed music are expected to exceed $416-million,[1] a 3% increase over the previous record of $405.6-million set in the financial year 2019.

Revenue from international sources continued to show strength at the historically high mark of $106.1-million, demonstrating again that Canadian music creators and publishers continue to out-perform on a global level.

International music license collections were fostered by the increased popularity of digital music platforms and the strength of SOCAN members abroad.

“Given the challenges of the pandemic, at the end of 2020 we prepared for a financially austere 2021,” said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. “Thanks to a combination of more music being consumed in Canada and worldwide, and the diligence and commitment of our nearly 280 employees – working tirelessly to uncover and collect domestic and international music licenses – we were able to bring in more than ever for our nearly 180,000 members, for their incredible and invaluable work.”

Man, that’s got to sting. They keep trying to sell Bill C-11 as a needed solution to all of life’s problems, but these darned pesky facts keep getting in the way. How annoying is that?

If anything, this really tells the story of how Bill C-11 is, in part, a solution looking for a problem. At this point, we’re wondering if a supporter will start claiming that Bill C-11 cures cancer, puts a Canadian base on the moon, and finally brings us flying cars. You really have to wonder what wild new claim they’ll come up with next. At this point, it’s probably a better for supporters of C-11 to just admit that there is no beneficial reason to implement Bill C-11 and that they are just wanting to dismantle the free and open Internet piece by piece until they either fully control it or it gets completely shut down. At that point, at least everyone would be on the same page of what this legislation is about.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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