SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber's term extended following record collections of €1.5 billion

SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber's term extended following record collections of €1.5 billion

SACEM has extended Cécile Rap-Veber's term as CEO following record collections for the collective management society.

In 2023, SACEM (France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music) collected €1.487 billion in royalties – up 5% on 2022. Some 458 trillion streams and downloads were processed in 2023.

A strategic plan, launched in 2021, has seen a focus on reducing operating costs. SACEM’s net operating costs-to-collections ratio has come down for the second year running (10.76% in 2023 compared with 11.65% in 2022). 

“The board has shown that they trust in and are confident in my vision and in my plan,” Rap-Veber told Music Week.

“The administration fee was around 15%, and now after three years in my role we are at around 10%,” she added. “We must prove to our creators, our members, that we make no benefit off their backs. We are there thanks to them, these are their works. So as long as I can lower the administration fee, I will do that.”

Rap-Veber contrasted SACEM’s model with other collection societies in the US that operate on a for-profit basis, such as BMI.

“When you are a for-profit company, I don't know how you can lower the administration fee, because the people that own the company must get a return on investment,” she said. 

Promoted to CEO in 2021, the longstanding SACEM executive is now set to head the Paris-based organisation for the rest of the decade, following the backing of the board. She will lead the implementation of two pillars of the strategic SACEM 3.0 vision proposed to the board by 2030 – efficiency for SACEM members, and the aim to be beneficial for society as a whole.

“We had a lot of discussion with the board and the idea was, of course, to still focus on efficiency for our members,” said Rap-Veber. “But on top of that, I think that SACEM should do more than just collect, distribute and deliver services. We want to be efficient for members, but we want to be useful for all. So that's what I have presented to my board.”

SACEM’s support and protection of its 224,470 members includes various initiatives. A Social Protection and Training Department was created in 2022. In 2024, this department will continue to develop its training offerings, as it becomes an autonomous department reporting directly to the general management.

Creators also benefit from personalised support throughout their careers from SACEM’s cultural action programme. In 2023, the organisation supported 3,657 projects for the dissemination and promotion of creation and music, both in France and abroad, for a total amount of €22.5 million. 

“We have strong pillars in SACEM’s history,” said Rap-Veber. “We have the best rates, the best distribution, but we also have social protection. We have professional funds to help emerging talent, festivals and concerts.”

SACEM’s CEO said those provisions were funded thanks to the “growth of streaming but also the dynamism of live [music] in France, and the rest of the world”, which delivered record results. Income from the private copying levy for digital media in France helps to support the initiatives.

“Compared to the United States and UK, the main difference is coming from private copy levies, which for us represent less than €100 million,” said Rap-Veber.

Digital growth continues – but streaming penetration remains low in France

The 2023 performance was in large part due to growth in digital (it also led the way in PRS For Music’s results). 

Digital collections, including revenues received under agreements with international publishers and foreign CMOs, rose 13% year-on-year to €557 million. SACEM renegotiated key agreements in 2023 with Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer, as well as renewing several SVOD contracts. 

SACEM has also accelerated payments to rights-holders from platforms. More than 458,000 authors, composers and publishers worldwide have been remunerated by SACEM for the use of their works

“We are now at three months after the exploitation period [for Apple Music and Spotify] and YouTube is coming in July,” said Rep-Veber. Amazon Music and Deezer distributions are set to be paid within three months by 2025.

However, SACEM is concerned about the low rate of paid streaming penetration in France compared to other countries. It has raised this issue with the government, as well as the recently created Centre National de la Musique, and intends to work with them on solutions to improve geographical and generational take-up of paid subscriptions. 

It is also working with Deezer on the concept of ‘artist centric’ remuneration, following an impact analysis of this new model on its members' royalties. Sacem is also fighting for higher payments for members from free distribution channels such as TikTok and Meta.

We must prove to our creators, our members, that we make no benefit off their backs

Cécile Rap-Veber

SACEM was the first collective management society to exercise its right to opt out of generative AI, so it would be able to negotiate licences with AI platforms using its repertoire in their training databases. In 2023, SACEM also made a commitment to greater transparency in AI tools. The organisation has set up a committee to look at innovation and new methods of consumption, alongside SACEM Lab, which focuses on new tools.

“We are now looking to a future where the major changes that marked 2023 will continue, whether it be the development of artificial intelligence or the emergence of new players,” said Rap-Veber. “In this immensely challenging environment, we will continue to evolve in order to strengthen our capacity for innovation and to remain the undisputed leader in the collective management of copyright and the protection of creative works for the benefit of all.”

Two new multi-territory online mandates also took effect in 2023, with the Hungarian society ARTISJUS and the Brazilian society UBC. SACEM now has 92 mandates signed with international publishers and collective management organisations, including KOMCA in South Korea, SOCAN in Canada, ASCAP in the United States, IPRS in India, Burida in Ivory Coast and international publishers such as Universal Music Publishing and IMPEL.

“They have entrusted us with their online rights,” said Rep-Veber. “So we collect on their behalf and provide them with a portal that is tailor-made. They can benefit from the transparency that SACEM provides to its members, so they can share [information] with their members.”

General royalties (including from concerts and background music licensed in public places) reached €388 million, up 18.5% compared to 2022). SACEM has supported public events through dedicated cultural initiatives. It has also put in place more effective tools for this type of collection, in order to offer better traceability and legibility of the royalties distributed.

Amid a declining broadcast sector, SACEM collected €318m from TV/radio/telecoms in 2023, down 4% on 2022. SACEM also collected €94m from international, €82m from private copying and €48m from phono/video.

SACEM reported that €1.233 billion (up 17% on 2022) was distributed to creators, music publishers and its constituents around the world. In addition, a proposal will be put to the general meeting on June 18 to pay an additional €37m in royalties in 2024, taken from the surplus on the 2023 management account.

International growth in members

Some 3,000 new foreign members joined SACEM in 2023. Foreign artists now represent 12% of its members. 

“Last year, we saw more and more Anglo-American creators joining SACEM for the quality of service,” said Rap-Veber.

More than 13,870 new members throughout the world, 28% of them under 25, have joined SACEM.

In 2023, more than 50,000 members received royalty distributions from abroad.

International growth continues including a new mandate signed with the Believe group for its publishing business that covers more than 150 territories.

Christine Lidon, chair of the SACEM board, said: "In 2023, SACEM was, more than ever, true to its vocation of creating a home for all creators and all aesthetics. It has mobilised to seek ever greater value for its members and for the principals who have placed their trust in it, and has organised itself to support authors, composers and music publishers, in particular by taking care of the most vulnerable and by defending the demanding conception of copyright to which we are all attached.

“Today, we are convinced of our society's ability to respond ever more effectively to the challenges of the future, and we are delighted to be continuing this adventure with Cécile Rap-Veber, in whom we have every confidence as she successfully leads management in taking on these developments."


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