The Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers of Music (SACEM) is a collective management organization (CMO) that’s based in France, but plays an important role around the world. SACEM helps collect and distribute royalties while also providing promotion and support for the 175,800 creators and almost 7,000 publishers the organization represents.
For new or established songwriters, a CMO like SACEM provides education, guidance, and the support required to receive payment for their works. Spotify chatted with Cécile Rap-Veber, SACEM’s Chief Executive Officer, to gain insight on the organization, their advocacy work, and some important tips for songwriters.
Can you explain how SACEM helps songwriters?
When you become a member of SACEM, the first goal is to get the collection and distribution of the usage of your repertoire. This is a fundamental tool of a CMO (a Collective Management Organization that includes collecting societies, performing right societies and mechanical rights organizations. So for SACEM, we try to get the best deals with all the players in the world. We are different from a lot of other organizations, thanks to the legal framework in France, which makes us entitled to collect royalties for music in any bars, cafes, hotels, all the media—being public or private—Pay to View TV, and other advertising. So first we collect and we distribute. Secondly, we try to promote and support our members at every stage of their career, whether you are an emerging talent or an established one.
Members of SACEM have access to plenty of services that will help creators or publishers. For example, they can get rebates on tools for studio recording and training materials.
You were appointed CEO in October. What do you hope to accomplish at SACEM to support songwriters?
I have one professional goal in my life: create more value for the members and for the creators. How can I achieve that? By working very closely with platforms such as Spotify to know how we will create value together for all kinds of creators.
And then of course it’s important for me to find ways to use new innovations. Innovation plays two roles in my job. My team should use innovation to improve our tools and services, but innovation should also be used to create new value for songwriters and publishers. Thanks to NFTs and the metaverse, there will be a lot of new opportunities within music. We should be sure that the value attached to these new opportunities will be shared with creators.
Can you share three tips for songwriters that will help them as they find their footing?
The first tip would be joining a CMO such as SACEM. That's the most important.
Then, remember that the release of the work is just the start of the process, not the end. Oftentimes, the protection of the work lasts 70 years after the death of the creator. So don’t think about your work as just one shot that’s released and then done. There is plenty of opportunity in the future for things like covers. So protect yourself, register your work, and be aware this step is just the beginning.
What’s also really important is to work closely with other people. I think that if you want success, it’s good to work collectively. Through a society such as SACEM, you can meet other creators. And not only French or local ones. Thanks to our international footprint, we're able to make relationships between different creators across borders.
What’s one common mistake you’ve seen songwriters make and how can they avoid it?
I think a common mistake is to think that they know everything—especially the legal side of things. If you're smart, you’ll work with a legal expert to make sure you understand your options for your publishing rights and the expectation of the rights of your catalog. A legal expert can help you preserve your interests.
What is the most important thing for songwriters to understand when working on something where multiple other writers are involved? The most important thing is to know what is the split between them. That's key. Say there are four in the studio…but it may not be an equal split. One person may be the beat maker, and the other just does the intro. Sometimes you may have 20 or 30 creators involved in a song, if sample are included. So you need to find a common agreement between the creators. As soon as there is an agreement, at least on our platform, you can register and say, "Okay, my share is that."
How does SACEM work with Spotify?
Our relationship with Spotify enables us to collect and distribute royalties. There is a lot of data exchange between us, and I think that one of our common goals is to enhance the quality of the data, so that we can properly identify all streams across the platform. That's what really matters because we don't want to have all these matched royalties, and not know where to distribute them.
We also work together to process the data quickly. Because the second goal, for me, is to distribute earnings as fast as possible. Especially during these recent difficult periods, a lot of creators need this money to live. So in summary: accurate data, processed as fast as possible—that’s how we work with Spotify.
Why do you think the advocacy work SACEM does is important?
I will say there are two aspects of advocacy for me. The first one is advocacy at a European level, because, as a French CMO, we are subject to European rules. So it's very important that the fundamentals of SACEM are promoted and protected. We don't want to lose protection for our members.
Another important aspect of our advocacy work, that I'm very proud of, is what we do on a very young education level: promoting music in schools. Thanks to a partnership called Orchestra at School, we show how music is key from both an educational point of view and a social point of view. We teach students the importance of music, and by creating this orchestra, we are developing a social link between children that may have much more in common.
How can songwriters interested in SACEM become a member?
It's super easy. Through our portal and with five clicks, you become a member. You have to upload just one proof of work, and that's all.