More than two-thirds (68%) of Canadians agree that it is important for foreign internet and social media companies to contribute to/promote Canadian music, TV shows, and movies, and nearly a quarter (23%) “strongly agree” with this sentiment, according to a Leger survey of Canadians across the country.

When asked to respond to the statement “I think it is important that foreign internet and social media companies contribute to and promote Canadian music, TV shows and movies,” only about one-in-ten (13%) disagreed, and 19% said they didn’t know.

Across Canada, there was consensus that the concept is important, and residents of Quebec led all provinces, with a full 28% responding that they “strongly agree” with the statement.

Perhaps surprisingly, younger Canadians expressed the strongest collective agreement that online streaming companies should support made-in-Canada music, with some 72% of respondents saying they strongly agree or agree.

“It’s clear that Canadians agree overall that streaming services should be contributing to the creation and promotion of Canadian music,” said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. “Canadian creators need support to continue to develop Canadian music in the world of streaming, and Canada must be a place for emerging music creators, where songwriters and composers can create, grow and thrive.”

Streaming services have been in Canada for almost a decade without equitable support for music creators. Right now, for every dollar in music licenses from Canadian TV and radio broadcasters, around 34 cents are distributed to Canadian songwriters and composers, but for every license dollar from online streaming services, only 10 cents remain in Canada.

According to SOCAN data, the situation is even more bleak for francophone SOCAN songwriter and composer members. On traditional media, they are receiving an average of 7% of all traditional royalties collected, while on digital media, they are receiving an average of 1.8% of digital royalties collected, a stark decrease of 76%.

The tabling of the Online Streaming Act on February 2, 2022, is an important first step to make it easier for Canadian audiences to find and engage with Canadian creators, giving our music a place in the world of streaming.

The full Leger research results can be found here.



Current broadcasting laws and regulations were designed for radio and television. While these rules have been effective, foreign digital platforms have zero obligations to support and promote Canadian creators, even to Canadian audiences. Reforming the Broadcasting Act is a necessary step to strengthening Canadian songwriters and composers’ place within Canada, and supporting Canadian music in a digital world.

SOCAN is advocating for broadcasting reform to include online undertakings under the Broadcasting Act because royalty distributions to Canadian songwriters and composers are significantly lower on unregulated digital broadcasters, which have no Canadian contribution requirements, such as promotion and funding, as opposed to regulated traditional broadcasters that do. Lower royalty distributions also means that the Canadian public is listening to less Canadian music, which has knock-on effects for Canadian culture, Canadian jobs, and Canadian identity.

The below charts demonstrate that distributions to Canadian songwriters and composers from digital broadcasters are 69% lower than distributions from traditional broadcasters:

Traditional Media Distributions to SOCAN Writers and Foreign Society Writers

Digital Media_Distributions to SOCAN Writers and Foreign Society Writers

The stark difference in distributions can be explained in part by the regulatory systems for traditional broadcasters, which include Canadian contribution requirements, compared with digital broadcasters operated by foreign companies, which do not.

Instead of a 34% share of collected royalties distributed to SOCAN songwriter and composer members on traditional media, only around 10% of royalties collected on digital media are distributed to SOCAN songwriter members. This represents a 69% decrease in distributions staying in Canada for songwriters with a song played on traditional media, versus a songwriter with a song played on digital media.

The situation is even more dire for Francophone SOCAN songwriter and composer members.

On traditional media, they receive an average of 7% of all traditional royalties collected, while on digital media, they receive an average of 2% of digital royalties collected.

Traditional Media_Distributions to SOCAN Writers by Language vs Foreign Society Writers

Digital Media_Distributions to SOCAN Writers by Language vs Foreign Society Writers

 

To an outside observer, there may be an apparent paradox: SOCAN revenues have been increasing, so how is it possible that distributions are decreasing? The answer to that paradox is understanding the difference between SOCAN’s collection of royalties and its distribution of royalties.

First, let’s look at the domestic collection of royalties.

SOCAN domestic royalty collections have increased from $203 million in 2012 to $282 million in 2020. Domestic digital collections have increased 571% since 2015 – from $15 million in 2015 to $104 million in 2020.

For SOCAN’s domestic collection of royalties, these revenues are collected from issuing licenses to organizations for all music uses, by all music creators in the world (Canadian and international), for public performances and communications within Canada.

So, when SOCAN’s domestic collection of royalties goes up, this means that more music is being used across Canada. That’s a good thing.

Now, let’s look at the domestic distribution of royalties.

For SOCAN’s domestic distribution of royalties, SOCAN analyzes the music use data we obtain from licensees for certain uses of music (or we use an analogous data set if no data is provided by the licensee) to match the musical works used to the correct rightsholders, and distribute the matched royalties to them. In this matching exercise, SOCAN matches musical works to Canadian rightsholders and international rightsholders – with royalties for international rightsholders going outside of Canada to the music rights organization representing them.

In short, for the $104 million in domestic digital collections, only 10% stays in Canada and is distributed to Canadian creators. The rest is distributed to international creators.

SOCAN’s goal is to see Canadian contribution requirements on digital broadcasters, so that more Canadian creators are paid for their work in Canada. Reform of the Broadcasting Act is the first step in figuring out how that goal can be accomplished.

Stay tuned for further articles in this series.



SOCAN welcomes the tabling of the Online Streaming Act, and is in support of the proposed legislation as a foundation for now and the future.

“The Online Streaming Act is a big step in the right direction,” said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. “The government has clearly heard from Canada’s music creators that they need support to create, and to be fairly promoted on streaming services, and this bill sets the stage for that to happen.”

Currently, for every dollar in music licenses from Canadian TV and radio broadcasters, around 34 cents are distributed to Canadian songwriters and composers, but for every license dollar from online streaming, only 10 cents remain in Canada. The Online Streaming Act is the first step to correcting that inequity for music creators.

Online streaming services promoting Canadian music will make it easier for Canadian audiences to find and engage with our songs and stories.

“The existing Broadcasting Act was designed before the Internet was a music delivery platform, and modernization is desperately needed,” Brown added. “Reforming the Act is a necessary step to strengthening Canadian songwriters and composers’ place within Canada and supporting Canadian music in a digital world.”

SOCAN thanks Minister of Canadian Heritage, The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez,  for staying true to the promise of introducing this important Bill, and looks forward to all parties stepping up for what’s right for Canada’s culture and economy.