Artists drag the devil by the tail in Martinique – Martinique la 1ère

“La vi atis rèd”. Thirty years after the release of Kali’s song, the galley of artists has increased with the death of the record and the crisis of the Covid-19 epidemic. State of play.

“San bikini, san monokini, an ka twouvé-mwen byen toutouni”. It’s the song that’s making the buzz right now in Guadeloupe. It is played by a young woman, Fecat Jy, who is not a music professional.

His unexpected success comes a few months after that of Mixx Steph in Martinique. His song “Bienvenue à Saint-Pierre” propelled him into the light. He is not a music professional either.

The singer Fecat Jy and her Toutouni.

©Private collection

Mixx Steph

Mixx Steph sings “Welcome to Saint-Pierre”.

©Private collection

The success of “Toutouni” and “Bienvenue à Saint-Pierre” sparked sometimes heated debates raised by artists and musicians but also music lovers and purists. They are worried to see this kind of songs imposing itself more and more to the detriment of the great compositions which have raised Martinique and Guadeloupe to the top.

The risk is real but the controversy is not new. This debate always raises the question of the happy medium. Find the balance in all societies between works that nourish the mind and those that are intended exclusively to entertain.

At SACEM, when it comes to remunerating authors and composers, no difference is made between those who write for novices like Fecat Jy or Mixx Steph and those who work for renowned artists. Only the dissemination of the work counts.

In 2021, SACEM paid €886 million in royalties to its members worldwide, during its four annual distributions: January, April, July, October. What are the Caribbean titles that have brought in the most?

“These are data that we do not communicate, for reasons of confidentiality”, explains Emmanuelle Bruch, the SACEM regional delegate for Martinique and Guyana.

Of the 370,000 authors, composers and publishers who emerge from the SACEM, nearly 1,500 reside in Martinique and 62% of them produced copyrights last year.

Emmanuelle Bruch

Emmanuelle Bruch Sacem regional delegate for Martinique and Guyana.

©Private collection

These rights are collected in particular on radio and television broadcasts. In Martinique, radios are often singled out. “How do you do a breakdown in a country whose main broadcasters don’t always report fairly?”, asks journalist Victor Montlouis Bonnaire.

“Local radio and television stations are in good standing with SACEM”, answers Emmanuelle Bruch, without expanding on the good and the bad payers. “This is information that I cannot communicate for reasons of confidentiality.

At Martinique La 1ère radio, the process has been well-oiled for decades. The songs broadcast on the air are followed by two programmers Pascal Adams and Kelly Pinto.

“We make a monthly computerized declaration since all the works are entered into the machine and filed. Our system makes the difference between what is programmed and what is broadcast. The rest belongs to SACEM for the distribution”, says Pascal Adams.

Artists on the Atrium stage

Performers on the Atrium stage.

©Steavy MA photography

Royalties collected by artists are also collected by SACEM on streaming, ie listening to music online. “To Antilles the public streams very little, it mainly consumes YouTube”, says producer Klod Cabit.

Local artists therefore have every interest in their producers or themselves creating a YouTube channel in order to disseminate their works. They will then have to, in order to make money, more or less, “monetize” this platform.

To do this, you must have more than 1,000 subscribers and have accumulated more than 4,000 hours of viewing over the last twelve months, i.e. at the rate of 3 minutes per clip, this represents more than 80,000 views. It is not won in advance.

Where it gets tricky is that today, for a local artist to land the broadcast of a new song, some programmers observe what is happening on social networks. If the song in question is buzzing on YouTube or generating thousands of streams, music radio stations follow.

Otherwise, the artist is condemned to wait and above all to hope in his lucky star, like the young freshly graduated who cannot find a job because they are required to have professional experience first.

Royalties, collected by SACEM members, are also collected on live concerts and on any performance of a work in public. These specific revenues were impacted by Covid-19. The pandemic has muted the music scene and more generally the artistic sector, deemed non-essential.

Performance venues have been closed. The losses are enormous. As a public structure, we have, whenever possible, programmed Martinican artists and produced online content, such as Rézistans or the December 31 concerts. The production of a show involves many technical participants. This therefore allowed artists but also different service providers or intermittent workers to work a little.

Frédéric Thaly, communications manager for Tropiques Atrium


Poster of uploaded content.


During the health crisis, SACEM also set up an aid fund, the amount and number of beneficiaries of which are not specified for Martinique. Today local cultural life has resumed its course after two years of shortage which have left their mark on the profession.

“Music does not allow us to live but to survive”, drops a famous singer on condition of anonymity. “We play in piano bars during the week and in the evenings on weekends. But it’s not systematic and it’s not the case for everyone.”

According to her, out of all the artists registered at SACEM in Martinique, “only ten” lives comfortably off his copyrights, while the others”drag the devil by the tail”.

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Artists drag the devil by the tail in Martinique – Martinique la 1ère

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