The City of Hamilton is standing up for fair and legal music licensing for music creators, becoming the first Canadian municipality to receive a special SOCAN Licensed To Play designation.

After confirming that all of its city-owned recreational facilities – including community halls, swimming pools, arenas, and other recreational services – are legally licensed by SOCAN to play commercially released music, Hamilton was given a Licensed To Play designation by SOCAN. It includes a Hamilton-specific version of the emblem that more than 40,000 Canadian music-using businesses have so far received to show their support of fair compensation for music creators.

“We are proud to be the first Canadian municipality to receive the special Licensed To Play designation from SOCAN. Music is an important aspect of community, culture, and recreation activities, and can bring people from all backgrounds together through special events, festivals, fitness, and dance,” said Laura Kerr, Manager of Program Development, Recreation Division, at the City of Hamilton.

Hamilton’s vibrant music scene and music-related initiatives have made the city a popular residence for music creators, including SOCAN members, and Hamilton’s SOCAN-licensed recreational facilities set the stage for many private and public events each year where music is heard and performed.

Hamilton is a true playground for music creation, publishing and performance,” said Hamilton-based SOCAN member, Max Kerman, of Arkells. “The SOCAN Licensed To Play designation confirms that Hamilton recognizes the hard work of music creators and publishers, and the importance of venues having a music license. To truly celebrate Canadian culture, it’s important to honour the livelihood of the thousands of songwriters, composers, music publishers, and other musicians living in the area. These administrative steps really add up for someone who works in music.”

While Hamilton is home to a diverse community of musicians, it also boasts a growing number of businesses using music as their core offering, or which offer music to improve their business. The City of Hamilton’s Planning & Economic Development Department encourages businesses to use music responsibly by becoming Licensed To Play with SOCAN.

“The City of Hamilton believes that musicians and artists are entrepreneurs and being Licensed To Play with SOCAN helps ensure that music creators and publishers are fairly compensated for their hard work. Our Music Strategy and Hamilton Music Advisory Team are focused on cultivating local music creation and talent and encouraging others to support artists via SOCAN licensing and fair payment. A lot of time and effort is invested in the creative process before you listen to the final song,” said Debbie Spence, Business Development Consultant Creative Industries, City of Hamilton.

While organizations that use music in their business are expected to abide by the law, constantly monitoring every one of Canada’s music-using businesses isn’t feasible. SOCAN works with businesses and their trade associations, as well as municipalities, to encourage them to stay up-to-date with their music licenses. Collectively, music licensing provides a major part of songwriters’, composers’, and music publishers’ livelihoods through royalties. It’s a vital aspect of Canada’s music ecosystem.

“The City of Hamilton is making a clear statement that it stands up for music rights and the need for songwriters, screen composers, and music publishers to be fairly compensated for their music,” said SOCAN Vice President of Licensing, Leslie Craig. “As the first Canadian city to receive this designation, it’s a milestone for the Hamilton music community, and the more than 150,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers represented by SOCAN.”

Licensed To Play is a long-term program encourages businesses to show that music is an instrumental aspect of the customer experience, and that they stand up for songwriters, screen composers, and music publishers who have created the valuable music that enhances their business.