Eclectic Oji-Cree singer, musician, and SOCAN member Anachnid won the second annual Indigenous Songwriter of the Year Award, sponsored by TD and The SOCAN Foundation, and presented at the Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg, on May 17, 2019.

A grateful Anachnid received the award, in the form of a beautiful traditional hand drum, from SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste and James Baxter, Branch manager for TD  Canada Trust in Winnipeg.

Mimi O'Bonsawin

Mimi O’Bonsawin

“When I went to a non-Indigenous high school and composed my first song at 13, and I performed it in front of everyone, no one believed that I wrote it. So I stopped making music for 10 years,” said Anachnid, now 23. “I do suffer from addictions, and self-control [issues], and that’s what the song ‘Windigo’ is about – not letting that take over my spirit. I’m healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually with music.” She also said that the date was the exact same one on which her grandfather passed away six years ago, that his spirit was beside her, and closed with a Marianne Williamson quote, that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Among the other winners were Mimi O’Bonsawin, who earned Best Pop Album for Trillium; Angela Amarualik, who won the Best Inuit, Indigenous Language, or Francophone Album for her eponymous record;  Don Amero, who – after six nominations over the years – finally took home the Best  Country Album honour for Evolution; and Ernest Monias, who enjoyed the Lifetime Achievement Award, for a remarkable career that’s seen him release 18 albums, perform in many different styles of music (including Gospel, country, and rock), and serve as a role model for Indigenous youth across Canada. For a complete list of 2019 nominees and winners, click here. The awards also included powerful performances from Midnight Shine, Angela Amarualik, and Celeigh Cardinal.

The two-day Indigenous Music Conference that preceded the awards gala provided First Nations artists and music entrepreneurs with an opportunity to discuss challenges, share best practices, and connect with music industry professionals to help them develop new skills, tools, and strategies.

Leonard Sumner

Leonard Sumner

Charlie Wall-Andrews, the SOCAN Foundation Executive Director, moderated the afternoon session of the first day, on May 16, where the industry representatives included ShoShonna Kish (of the group Digging Roots, and an arts and music  administrator and facilitator); Sam Baijal (Artistic Director, Hillside Festival); Beth Cavanagh (Publicist, What’s The Story?); and David Chavez ((Festival and Series Curator & Producer, City of Chicago).

With all participants seated in one large circle, and the microphone being passed to anyone wishing to speak, the attendees discussed the best ways to capture programmers’ attention; how building a career in step-by-step increments can be longer-lasting than a viral breakout; the underestimated value of word-of-mouth recommendations; and how crucial it is to build and develop authentic relationships with others in the music business. Explaining how  to best foster those relationships, 2019 JUNO Award nominee (for his album Standing in the Light) Leonard Sumner (who’s toured Australia with A Tribe Called Red, and worked with Jeremy Dutcher) summarized it clearly and concisely, as he said, “Show up; be ready; do a good job; and be nice to people… Work on your show, and make the art good.”

Stay tuned for video interviews from the conference!

In an exclusive interview with SOCAN, Mimi O’Bonsawin – who won the Best Pop Album honour (for Trillium) at the 2019 Indigenous Music Awards, during the 2019 Manito Ahbee Indigenous  Music Conference  – discusses the Northern Ontario landscape that inspired the album; her writing process for the song “I Feel So Small”; and her line that “we witness magic every day.”

SOCAN held our first live WebEx “Mic Drop” event for our #ComposersWhoScore – who participated from our offices in Los Angeles, Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver – as well as our fifth annual screen composers meeting in Toronto and Vancouver, on May 15, 2019.

The Mic Drop speaker series – created by SOCAN Senior A&R Executive Erica Grayson and A&R Representative Camille Mathews, both of our L.A. office – presented guest speaker Daryl Berg, Vice President, Music Strategies and Licensing, for Crown Media, the parent company of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

Berg, who oversees all music strategy and supervision for Hallmark, spoke in-person with members in the L.A. office, while others joined via WebEx in the Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver SOCAN offices. Grayson and Mathews asked him pre-planned questions, and members from each of our offices were able to undertake a Q&A session with him at the end. Toronto-based SOCAN Chief Membership and Business Development Officer Michael McCarty, and Director, A&R,  Rodney Murphy, and were both present in L.A. for the event.

“I enjoyed [the Mic Drop] more than I expected,” said attending SOCAN screen composer member Jeff Toyne. “It was great to see the other side of the business. We often get caught up the layers of politics and bureaucracy with producers. This really helps.” Another SOCAN member, Gerald O’Brien, said, “Daryl Berg was awesome. So was meeting all the other composers too, a great gathering. These types of events are very helpful.”

Prior to the live-stream from our L.A. office, SOCAN Senior Account Executive, Audio-visual (AV),  Paul Stillo, moderated our fifth annual screen composers meeting in Toronto and Vancouver (connected by WebEx). Stillo conducted an interview-style conversation with Kit Wheeler (Vice-President, Licensing) and Leslie Craig (Vice-President, Distribution) about digital royalties for screen composers.

Members learned, or were reminded, that SOCAN currently licenses 42 digital services in Canada, and that members can conceivably earn from any of these platforms, as long as SOCAN receives the relevant performance data and cue sheets. Internationally, the majority of the top music rights organizations currently have agreements with AV streaming services such as Netflix. As with all other types of performances, these are subject to each society’s respective set of distribution rules, performance thresholds, etc.

We also discussed the fact that SOCAN processes more than 2.78 billion audio-visual online performances, versus only 1.1 million TV/Cable performances, each quarter. Yet we receive only about $19 million in domestic license fees from digital services, compared with more than $100 million from traditional TV. This means that in the digital world, there’s much less money available, and that it’s divided among many more performances;

Attendees heard that when it comes to digital AV earnings, SOCAN composers have received approximately 3 percent, compared to SOCAN publishers, who’ve received closer to 43 percent. This demonstrates that although Canadian programs might be available, a large percentage of subscribers are actually streaming non-Canadian content.