Governance and succession crisis at Sacem

The days of Jean-Noël Tronc at the head of the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers (Sacem) since June 2012, and yet reelected for a five-year term in June 2020, seem numbered. A governance crisis has been brewing for several weeks. A first extraordinary board of directors bringing together the twenty members of this body (including six authors, six publishers and six composers), on September 7, was to decide on its maintenance. According to article 19 of Sacem’s statutes, two-thirds of the votes are necessary to remove him from office. The meeting which promised to be stormy could not be held, because Jean-Noël Tronc was uneasy.

The board decided, in mid-September, to replace him on an interim basis with two members of the executive committee: David El Sayegh, secretary general, and Cécile Rap-Veber, in charge of development and international affairs. The latter has also just declined a staggering hiring proposal. Since then, employees have had to content themselves with the internal email from Patrick Sigwalt, Chairman of the Board, who justified this interim by the fact that Jean-Noël Tronc is still “Unavailable for personal reasons”.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Covid-19: Sacem sees its rights collections melt

Boss with a very extensive address book, Jean-Noël Tronc is known for the length of his speeches and for his ability to carry out sometimes divisive reforms. The implementation of a social plan at Sacem, which resulted in the voluntary departure of 150 employees, was hardly appreciated.

Falling collections

And the Covid-19 pandemic has deeply shaken the house. The closure, for months, of places where music is played (cafes, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, cinemas, etc.) and the cancellation of concerts and festivals have had “A very strong negative impact on the collection of rights, strongly affecting the remuneration of Sacem members”, underlines the last annual report published at the end of August 2020. Collections fell: from 1.19 billion euros in 2019, to 988.5 million in 2020, and pay-as-you-go rights fell by 53.8 million in 2020, compared to 2019. As a result, Sacem closed its financial year with a deficit of 26.8 million euros, despite its savings plan. The year 2021 is also shaping up to be a very bad year.

According to The letter a from Monday, October 4, Sacem’s board of directors plans to launch an internal audit to scrutinize the management of Jean-Noël Tronc. The daily also specifies that the latter has just had a discreet lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of his other functions as president and founder of France Créative. Is he trying to come back? The conductor Laurent Petitgirard, former chairman of the board of directors of Sacem, came to his aid by trying to explain to the directors that they would have everything to lose by opting for his final ouster. For the moment, the management of Sacem does not comment.