Last year, on average, Canadian songwriters and composers earned a paltry $67 in royalties from digital platforms. That info comes from SOCAN, the body representing the nation’s musicians creating original material.

Yet the not-for-profit body says that as a whole, Canadian artists raked in a record-breaking amount of money last year.

The not-for-profit body collects royalties from TV and radio stations as well as online platforms such as Spotify and YouTube. In an upcoming financial report, collections for licensed music are expected to make history by surpassing $416 million a year. However, those final figures will be confirmed in June in an annual report.

Due to the pandemic, music streaming has seen a boost in listeners opting to stream at home rather than while they’re out. Despite the increase in listeners, last year the average earning of Canadian songwriters on digital platforms is $67.14 represented by SOCAN.

CEO Jennifer Brown told The Canadian Press that musicians with a large following—such as Drake and The Weeknd—are played regularly, but lesser-known Canadian artists struggle to be promoted in their home country.

Brown expressed support for Bill C-11, a law that would obligate digital platforms to further promote Canadian music by adding more homegrown music to playlists in the country to help support the career of aspiring musicians. The bill, which is currently being debated, would apply to YouTube, Spotify, and other online streaming services to promote Canadian artists, similar to the way traditional radio stations must provided allotted airtime to Canadian music.

Brown believes it is important for new talent and listeners that platforms “showcase Canadians” to grow their audience and boost their careers.

The difficulty is that streaming services work differently from tradition radio because people are able to select what and when they want to listen to music. Bill C-11 is likely to be flexible about promoting Canadian music. Brown says the bill would also include financial contributions from streaming services to support Canadian talent with necessities such as recording studios.

Brown predicts that soon royalties from digital platforms will overtake earnings from airtime on radio stations and other traditional listening sources. She also believes that aspiring Canadian artists will be discouraged from entering a career in music after learning how little musicians in Canada currently earn.

However, Brown says Bill C-11 will increase earnings for Canadian artists as well as introduce listeners to Canadian music they might not have discovered on their own. 

$135 million was collected last year from online platforms alone by SOCAN. Royalties were also collected from digital platforms including Netflix and theme songs composed and written by Canadian artists.