The Association des professionnels de l’édition musicale (APEM) is taking advantage of the 2022 Francos to kick off a spate of activities marking 20 years of existence. On June 15, 2022, the association will offer two roundtables: the first one on its history, with one of its founders, Daniel Lafrance (Éditorial Avenue); and the second one discussing the future of music publishing in Québec, with Diane Pinet (Édition Bloc Notes), Odette Lindsay (Third Side Music), Yao (Intello-Production), and Marie-Ève Rochon (Bonsound).
For the current Executive Director of APEM, Jérôme Payette, “it’s an opportunity to talk about the association does, what we embody as a collective group, aiming at the growth of the music industry in Québec. It’s also a way to bind the music publishing community by promoting our efforts to enliven our community by encouraging meetings and networking. We want to reach out to the hundreds of people we’ve trained over the years as well, and continue tom promote of best practices [in the industry] through our workshops, conferences, and the contract templates we offer.”
The association, which believes it now represents the vast majority of Québec’s music publishing stakeholders, is making its mark at a juncture in time where the industry is undergoing a major upheaval, while its business practices and opportunities must remain relevant as music consumption habits and technologies constantly evolve. “We must emphasize the importance of our collective efforts,” insists Jérôme Payette. “It may sound cliché to say it again, but there’s so much changing, so much adapting to do, so much need for representation – more than ever, I feel.”
The publishing sector’s main battleground today is the federal Bill C-11 amending the Broadcasting Act and the representations on it that have been made in recent weeks “in coalition with our partners in the music industry.” In addition, there’s the issue of a Copyright Act “which will generate better revenues for the industry,” and efforts to obtain more public funding for APEM members, “an issue on which we’ve managed to make progress for 20 years. This has been one of APEM’s great victories over the years: gaining access to public funding sources to which other industry players were entitled. Today, music publishers can ask for help, for example from SODEC and Musicaction, and this has helped our sector to progress.”
But APEM’s main challenge, as Jérôme Payette acknowledges, is still educational. Music publishing is an essential and important revenue generator for the industry, but it’s still poorly understood by many players in the field, starting with the songwriters themselves. “For the past 20 years, we’ve had to explain our trade, and I believe we’ll need to do so for the next 20 years,” says Payette. “At first glance, what people don’t immediately grasp when they enter the business is that the music industry is a very, very sophisticated business. People often ask us if there isn’t a way to simplify it all. I always give them the same answer: if it was possible, we’d have done it already! Now, with the hundreds of people we’ve managed to train through our programs – not necessarily people who’ve gone on to become publishers, but often as managers, for example – I think we’ve seen a better understanding, and recognition, of the publishing profession.”
Thus, APEM’s mission is two-fold: to train its members, and to rally them around common objectives. “I like the concept of co-optation,” says Payette. “Today, we can see that our members know each other, rub shoulders and collaborate, particularly within the association’s various working committees. This training work has helped build a community that, over the years, has contributed to the recognition of the importance of this profession, even though it has to be done over and over again. We evolve, after all, in a very small market: our members are all independent, the majors are not very present,” making this cooperation among publishers, and between publishers and other sectors of the Québec music industry, even more necessary.
Finally, APEM will take advantage of its day at the Francos to award Lucie Bourgouin, founder of the copyright consulting agency Permission Inc., the 2022 Christopher-J.-Reed Award. The award is presented “to an individual who is committed to his or her professional community, who demonstrates a high level of respect for creators and copyright, and who has made an outstanding contribution to the practice and recognition of the music publishing profession.”