The French government’s decision to cancel a series of planned new music publishing deals with major publishers is causing controversy across the industry.
The cancellations followed the revelation that publishers had been paid a total of more than €4bn ($5.5bn) for rights to music.
The news, which emerged at the start of a week of political uncertainty, came as the French government began considering the next steps after years of budget cuts, public dissatisfaction with the performance of the government and concerns about the future of the country’s biggest film studio.
The government has been in a political tailspin since the Paris attacks on November 13, when the country suffered the worst mass shooting in its history.
Last week, the government proposed to raise the country to the second-highest level of global poverty in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said.
The cuts had also led to a slump in French industry’s revenue, which was down almost 30% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.
In a statement, the French entertainment industry said that it had been informed that it would be cancelled.
However, the industry’s representative in Brussels, Michel Beaudoin, said the decision to drop the deals was not taken lightly.
“There was a very clear mandate from the government to give the publishers the best possible outcome,” he told Reuters news agency.
“But this is a very, very difficult decision for the publishers.”
The French music publishing industry, which had enjoyed years of stable growth and strong profits, was set to continue publishing music with the exception of the new rights for Europcar Music and Sony Music.
However this had been halted after the French film studio Sony announced it would stop producing films with French studios.
Europcap Music has announced that it will stop publishing music after it was forced to cancel two deals, including one with Sony Music, and said that the decision would affect other deals it has in place with other companies.
It said that after the cancellation of the deals with Sony, the company would consider the situation.
“The decision was taken as a result of a change in the situation and a need to consider other options, which included the cancellation or reopening of the agreements with the remaining parties,” EuropCap said in a statement.
Sony Music did not respond to a request for comment.
French music industry has been struggling since the beginning of the crisis over austerity measures and budget cuts and a slowdown in the film and TV industry.
It is currently facing a deficit of about €30bn ($39bn) and a public debt of around €20bn.
The music industry is now facing its worst crisis in decades, with more than 1,000 musicians being laid off and about 200 studios closing, according to French media reports.
The number of French artists making music for a living has been reduced by about 40% over the last year, with many artists not receiving any royalties for their work.