France's decision to impose a flat music streaming tax on digital platforms will hurt the "tech sovereignty" of all of Europe, a French media giant has claimed. (SASCHA STEINBACH/EPA)


France’s media-streaming tax ‘will hurt EU tech sovereignty’, says Deezer chief


France’s decision to impose a music-streaming tax on digital platforms will hurt the “tech sovereignty” of all of Europe, a French media giant has claimed.

Deezer, one of the major players within the international music-streaming sector, warned that the new levy would ultimately benefit American Big Tech firms better able to absorb the costs.

“I am incredibly disappointed about the introduction of this tax,” Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira told Brussels Signal.

He added that while the intention of the new tax was laudible, he argued its implementation would likely backfire both in France and Europe more generally.

“With a flat rate for all music-streaming companies, it is absolutely clear that it will have a worse impact for independent European music-streaming companies like Deezer and Spotify,” he said.

“The American tech giants can easily absorb the tax and as a result [the tax] will harm European and French tech sovereignty,” he added.

Announced on December 13, the exact details of the new French media tax are yet to be clarified, although it is believed an across-the-board charge of 1.75 per cent will be implemented on all music-streaming platforms present in the sector.

Expected to yield around €20 million annually, the cash would be spent on promoting France’s domestic music industry.

Jeronimo expressed frustration at the move, arguing that Deezer had already been working to promote the French music industry.

He also emphasised the company had already agreed, alongside several other streaming platforms, to a voluntary scheme to contribute to local artists.

“We are a French tech company promoting more local music than any other platform,” he insisted.

The CEO added that this “France focus” would now hurt the company as the majority of its revenue originated there.

“We will now be forced to take measures to safeguard the business and will have less money to spend on supporting French artists and making sure music consumption in France grows,” Jeronimo added.

“It’s a shame that it has come to this, especially since there was industry consensus for a voluntary contribution, except from Amazon Music.

“Now we are left with a tax that unfairly punishes a French company that has always been supportive of the local music industry,” he concluded.

Swedish streaming giant Spotify appeared to echo those sentiments. Antoine Monin, the CEO of the company in France, said it would now examine reducing its operations in the country.

“Honestly, Spotify will have the means to absorb this tax, but Spotify will disinvest in France and will invest in other markets,” he said, describing his company as being in a “fragile” position in an increasingly competitive market.

“France does not encourage innovation and investment,” he stated.

“France will no longer be a priority for Spotify.”