The popular summer festival season for electronic dance music, better known as EDM, has just wrapped up. During this time each year, fans can choose from a rich selection of EDM music festivals held throughout Canada. Over the course of an evening, day, or sometimes a weekend, fans can let loose and dance while creating memories for a lifetime with friends.

Behind the scenes, many concert promoters who host these EDM concerts and festivals are Licensed to Play by SOCAN. Obtaining a SOCAN licence demonstrates their commitment to running concerts ethically and legally, and ensures that music creators are properly compensated, which in turn, allows them to continue creating their music. A SOCAN licence fosters a mutually beneficial partnership between concertpromoters and their featured music creators.

“We want to ensure that all of the contributors to the music receive their fair compensation.” – Harvey Cohen, of Union Events

As another benefit to SOCAN-licensed promoters, SOCAN has recently worked alongside Re:Sound to simplify the licensing process for those who promote events in nightclubs. While SOCAN collects performance royalties for songwriters and music publishers, Re:Sound collects royalties for artists and record companies. There was an opportunity to create a distinct licensing process between the two societies, to avoid delays and duplication, and enhance reporting for both licences, making it easier for nightclub promoters to do their business.

SOCAN licensee Electronic Nation Canada, the electronic music brand of Live Nation, is one of Canada’s premier electronic music promoters, hosting prominent summer concerts. Most recently, Electronic Nation hosted the third annual Digital Dream Music Festival in Toronto, boasting a crowd of nearly 75,000 attendees and more than 100 artists. The promoter also partnered to host ÎlesSoniq, one of the biggest electronic festivals in Montreal.

“We’ve been growing by leaps and bounds as the scene in general has grown,” says Ryan Kruger, Managing Director, Electronic Nation Canada, adding that being a SOCAN licensee is a necessary pre-requisite to “creating events that make people happy.” He also makes mention of his efforts to showcase local EDM talent during his company’s concerts. “If we are in this business,” says Kruger, “it’s only to our benefit to see a vibrant music scene throughout the market, and throughout the country. We want to support local and Canadian talent.”

Union Events/Union Electronic is also a SOCAN licensee. Recognized as one of the largest independent promoters in Canada, the company recently expanded to devote its Union Electronic division solely to EDM.  The new division has had a busy summer, with concerts across the country, including the third annual Riot Fest in Toronto and the Chasing Summer Music Festival. SOCAN members, including the likes of City and Colour and Tegan and Sara, are routinely featured at their concerts.

Union Events’ “fan first” approach has led to its ongoing success and growth over the years. Managing Partner Harvey Cohen stresses that promoters should be licensed to play, “to ensure that not only the performers are compensated for the time, but that all of the contributors to the music receive their fair compensation.”

And having a SOCAN license does just that. Electronic Nation and Union Events are only two of the more than 125,000 licensees across Canada that recognize the value that music brings to their business. As the EDM scene continues to expand throughout Canada, now is the time for concert promoters to obtain a SOCAN licence. We look forward to continuously developing a network of promoters who’ll enhance their business by being Licensed to Play.

To learn further about SOCAN’s licensing process, or to get Licensed to Play, click here.


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It all Started With a Song.

When last year’s major label debut album of that name soared up the charts (the title track single became the most added song in one week at Canadian country radio, ever), it kicked off a 12-month period that has loudly introduced Brett Kissel as a fast-rising young star whose time has come.

The album’s success helped the Alberta-raised, Nashville-based singer-songwriter take home the 2014 JUNO Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and in July he scored more nominations (eight) for the 2014 Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMAs) than any other artist.

“This year is one I’m never going to forget. It is just incredible.”

As Kissel says, “This year is one I’m never going to forget. Any time I stop to take a few minutes to reflect, I almost go crazy. It is just incredible.” Helping keep Kissel sane is the realization that he’s earned this success through a potent combination of talent, sustained hard work, and a winning personality. The kid’s no novice, as he alludes to in noting “they say it takes ten years to be an overnight success, and I’m right about that stage now.”

Indeed. His first album, 2003’s Keepin’ It Country, was released when Kissel was just 12. In 2006, he was nominated for the CCMAs Chevy Trucks Rising Star award – the youngest nominee ever.

As his debut’s title indicates, the young Brett Kissel’s style was firmly in the traditional, stone-cold-country vein. That was also showcased on three following independent albums, the last two of which, Tried and True – A Canadian Tribute (2006) and My Roots Run Deep (2008), sold an impressive 70,000 total copies. Most of those sales came at his shows, as the teenaged Kissel gigged relentlessly. “It’s sometimes frustrating to hear people say ‘you didn’t pay your dues in the bars,’” he says. “Well, I was too young for the bars, but I played every small town in Alberta, repeatedly.”

In 2003, Kissel’s commitment to country music as a career was cemented via a remarkable interaction with Johnny Cash, one of the biggest influences on the young singer. “When I heard June Carter Cash passed in May 2003, I sent a letter of condolence to Johnny Cash,” Kissel recalls. “At that time I had recorded Keepin’ It Country, with songs on there from Johnny, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins and Wilf Carter.

“On Sept. 12, 2003, I was staying home from school as it was my big CD release concert that night. My mum wakes me up in the morning and says ‘I’ve got great news and sad news.’ The great news was that my concert in my community of Glendon, Alberta, had sold out, 600 tickets in a village of 300. The sad news was that Johnny Cash had died that morning. Then my dad came home with the mail, including a big double-envelope for me. Inside was an 8 x 10 [photo] autographed by Johnny Cash that said ‘To Brett. Jesus First. – Johnny Cash.’ To get that on the day he died, and the day I was releasing my first record, is something I’ll never forget. I see this as a true tale that shows everybody this is what I’m meant to be doing!”

This conviction has instantly impressed the industry types that Kissel has encountered. An early mentor, noted Canadian songwriter/producer Steve Fox, recalls their first meeting. “Brett walked up to our table at the CCMAs about ten years ago, acoustic in hand, sang us some old-time country, and proceeded to tell us who the writers were, who the artists were, who produced the albums and who shook a tambourine on the recording. That may be a tad hyperbolic but it’s not far off. Point is, he charmed us all and blew our minds. Even people unaware of his talent were struck by his moxie and salesmanship, but also his genuine respect and knowledge of those who came before him.” Fox went on to collaborate with Kissel on songwriting, as well as producing and dueting on Tried And True.


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Their 100% Fair Trade coffee beans are hand-selected, of the highest quality, from around the world; a slice of their cheesecake sends taste-buds on a decadent trip to the Big Apple; and before hitting stardom, Canada’s sweetheart, “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen, spent her time here serenading coffee connoisseurs from across Vancouver.

Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House has served java devotees since 1996, and has since grown to five locations in the greater Vancouver area.  Along with offering their customers a true Bohemian/European-style café experience, for singer-songwriters and performers, Trees provides a venue and outlet for those starting out in their careers.

Just as it’s committed to Fair Trade coffee, Trees believes in fair play for songwriters, composers and music publishers.

And just as it’s committed to Fair Trade coffee, Trees believes in fair play for songwriters, composers and music publishers. They proudly display their Licensed to Play status with the emblem at their doorway.

Music is a key ingredient to their success. Director of Operations, Chris Hannah says, “Music helps us create an atmosphere in the café and without it the space would seem like a dead zone.” He adds that music not only plays in the background, but that “live music nights are something that makes Trees Café a destination for people to check out and discover great talent.

“Just about every musician gets their start playing small venues to gain some exposure and recognition – we see some very talented people playing their hearts out every week at Trees.” He’s especially proud that SOCAN member Carly Rae Jepsen honed her talent by regularly performing her music in the café, before gaining international fame.

As a result of being Licensed to Play music, “Trees not only ensures that their customers buy and drink coffee that is environmentally, economically and fair-labour conscious, but  that their customers can be sure Trees is also an ally for the rights of music creators,” says SOCAN’s Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, Andrew Berthoff.

Trees’ dedication to local musicians doesn’t end at just providing a venue for local talent; they also help to further their exposure via Trees’ blog, which includes a feature called the “Coffeehouse Musician Profile.”

The parallels of a business displaying that it’s Licensed to Play and supporting Fair Trade Coffee are all there: good for the workers, good for a company’s reputation, and good for all those concerned.

To learn more and become Licensed To Play, click here.


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