SOCAN’s Licensing team does the important work of connecting businesses that use music, their customers, and the more than 120,000 SOCAN member songwriters and composers that create the music that their customers and employees love.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in our new, awareness-raising Licensed to Play program for the more than 125,000 organizations across Canada that put music to work to improve their business.

The public-facing campaign began with the introduction of the Licensed to Play graphic, and the distribution of a window sticker to more than 30,000 retail establishments, bars, restaurants, fitness studios, clubs and offices that are current with their 2014 SOCAN licenses.

By displaying the Licensed to Play emblem proudly, businesses affirm that they put music to work ethically and legally, and recognize that music adds value to their business, and to their customers’ experience.

Businesses that are licensed to play are essentially saying loud and proud that, yes, they support fair compensation for music creators and music publishers. The sticker implicitly underscores the partnership and mutual respect between SOCAN’s licensed businesses and SOCAN’s members – and, of course, SOCAN itself.

The Licensed to Play campaign also encourages businesses and their customers to think of music as an instrumental (pardon the pun) aspect of their experience.

According to new research conducted by Leger, The Research Intelligence Group, on behalf of SOCAN, Canadian businesses confirm that music is increasingly important to their success. The data supports the fact that most businesses that use music understand and appreciate the contribution that Canadian songwriters make to the economy.

According to the study:

  • Almost three-quarters of Canadian businesses feel that music is important to the customer experience
  • Almost three-quarters of them rank music above décor when considering customers’ experience, and the numbers are even higher for restaurants, theatres, concert halls and health clubs
  • Half of them said they would never stop playing music
  • Almost seven out of ten of them agree that it’s fair to compensate those who created the music

There’s no greater testimony to the successful efforts of SOCAN’s Licensing team than to witness the widespread recognition among Canadian businesses that music is working for them, that music benefits their customers, and that the people who create it deserve fair compensation.

SOCAN’s Licensed to Play program connects all of the stakeholders in the ecosystem when music is being used in Canadian businesses, and the Leger study confirms that these businesses understand and appreciate these kinds of connections. It’s a collaborative and collective win for businesses, their customers, and our members.

Connecting licensed businesses with accomplished members is exactly what SOCAN consistently strives to accomplish, and Licensed to Play is a prime example of collaborative success.

While the summer was hopefully a time to relax and take some time off, certainly the Canadian Copyright Board and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have been busy working on activities that affect us as songwriters and publishers in the performing rights organization world.

In Canada, the Copyright Board issued two rulings on Tariff 22.D regarding audio-visual works on the Internet, both of which have very positive impacts for SOCAN.  In the first ruling for 22.D.1, regarding AV webcasts, tariffs were confirmed at 1.7% for 2007-2010 and 1.9% for 2011 to 2013. These percentages are based on both per program and subscription fees, as well as advertising revenues, and are subject to minimum fees.

The Board also agreed with SOCAN’s position that in the case of Netflix free trial subscriptions, royalties are payable. Another big positive in the ruling for SOCAN is that given rates have been confirmed going back to 2007, early estimates suggest that the retroactive royalties these tariffs may generate are as much as $10 million. The Tariff Licensing and Distributions committee of the SOCAN board will be discussing the mechanisms to facilitate these royalty payments in the very near future.

With regard to the second ruling, Tariff 22.D.2 for user-generated content on AV sites, the Copyright Board approved the agreement between SOCAN and YouTube at similar rates as those referred to above, applying to the amounts generated by visits from Canadian IP addresses to YouTube pages with advertising revenues. In all cases, these terms will remain in force on an interim basis, until tariff rates and terms are approved for 2014 and subsequent years. These rulings continue to chart a way forward for SOCAN in the evolving digital world.

In other rulings for Tariff 4.A (Pop Concerts) for the years 2009-2014, the approved tariff allows for greater certainty in the terms and conditions between SOCAN and the users as to the royalties and administration requirements.  As well, Tariff 4.B confirmed the agreement between SOCAN and Orchestras Canada, and includes increases in rates for the years 2013 and 2014.

In the U.S., things are a bit different as ASCAP and BMI have to work within the decades-old consent decrees, set by the DOJ, which are in place to attempt to protect the market from potential anti-trust concerns.

These consent decrees and recent court decisions have been creating problems for publishers and the PROs, with regard to publishers’ abilities to withdraw certain rights and negotiate direct deals, and the rate courts insisting on “all or nothing” relationships between the publishers and the PROs.  The DOJ is looking into amending the consent decrees and both PROs have submitted formal comments, seeking greater flexibility.

These developments will likely have progressed further by the time you read this, but suffice to say that we are witnessing the evolution of the PRO landscape and it likely will be unrecognizable within the next few years. The times, they are a-changing!  Stay tuned.

While 2013 may seem like a distant memory now that we’re into summer, this is the time of year we look back at our annual results and achievements. Throughout last year, SOCAN has been striving not only to reinvent itself, but to actually reinvent what a performing rights organization (PRO) can and should be. With many bold initiatives, SOCAN’s board and staff have been actively working to “raise the bar” for performing rights in Canada and set an example for PROs around the world.

It’s very clear that YouTube is one of the most widely used outlets for online music and, over the last year, SOCAN’s management team and board have been actively investigating, negotiating and initiating new ways for members to earn royalties in this evolving landscape. In addition to directly collecting YouTube license fees (under tariff 22D) and distributing YouTube royalties for the first time in November 2013, SOCAN initiated its collaboration with Audiam, a company that aggregates and further monetizes music uses on YouTube to facilitate an additional royalty stream.  SOCAN made the first distribution on behalf of Audiam also in November 2013, and early predictions show that this source of revenue is growing exponentially.

In an effort to operate more efficiently, SOCAN underwent a thorough review of staffing needs and was able to reduce headcount by 13.5 percent, significantly lowering annual expenses, while maintaining and even improving high levels of service and performance. Many of these reductions were realized in the restructuring of the licensing department by outsourcing smaller general licensing accounts.

Further, due to retirements in certain key positions, SOCAN was able to add some new faces on its executive team, such as Michael McCarty – a former member of the Board of Directors – to the position of Chief Membership Officer. Michael’s enthusiasm, keen view of the needs of members and ability to energize the Membership Department was instantly apparent. As a result of Michael’s hiring, his vacant seat on our board was filled, by Neville Quinlan of peermusic, according to the 2012 election results, as required by SOCAN’s bylaws.

Even though SOCAN elections aren’t coming until next spring, we must be doing something right, because recently, SOCAN management has again seen fit to hire from within our board with the addition of Geneviève Côté to the role of Chief Québec Affairs Officer.  Replacing Geneviève on the board, also according to our 2012 election results, is Patrick Curley from Third Side Music.

All in all, SOCAN’s success in 2013 was a direct result of forward thinking and reinventing the way we do business to make us more proactive, efficient, adaptable and prepared to face what lies ahead in the constantly changing music industry landscape. We’re confident that the path we’re on will continue to benefit our membership tremendously, as we continue to reinvent SOCAN and the definition of a PRO.