A capacity crowd of more than 200 SOCAN members gathered at the Studio Theatre in Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre to attend the SOCAN Annual General Meeting on June 19, 2018, to learn about SOCAN’s major achievements in 2017 – including a record-breaking $352-million in music creator revenues. With the theme of diversity, the event was also streamed live in both languages on Facebook, to members who couldn’t attend in person.
After a captivating opening performance from emerging R&B singer Savannah Ré, SOCAN Board of Directors President and Chair Stan Meissner reported on various milestones for the organization, including the fact that SOCAN now numbers more than 150,000 members. Stan also discussed the work of SOCAN’s Board of Directors in 2017, introduced the newly-elected Board for 2018-21, and talked about new developments at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste spoke of SOCAN’s 2017 financial record-setting results –including total collections of $352 million; more than $76 million of that in international collections; $295 million distributed to music creators and publishers, including royalties from almost 42 billion online music services performances; and a 44 per cent (!) increase in revenue from internet streaming.
Baptiste also spoke of the diversification of technology in our work, with our wholly-owned subsidiary companies Audiam and MediaNet. He referenced our diversified offerings, based on joint common licensing initiatives with neighbouring rights organization Re:Sound, and with our pending integration of reproduction rights organization SODRAC. And he discussed the diversity of SOCAN’s staff, including gender parity of SOCAN’s management and executive, and the near-parity of our new Board.
For a more complete accounting of SOCAN’s activities in 2017, see our full Annual Report.
During a lively question-and-answer session, members asked about:
- Collected but undistributed royalties, which Baptiste said that SOCAN has addressed by running a campaign to receive members’ set lists for unpaid performances, and with technological developments to greatly avoid the problem moving forward;
- what SOCAN members should address when contacting Members of Parliament, which Baptiste suggested should include requests a) to fix the Copyright Act, and b) that major streaming sites be legally obligated to highlight 20 percent Canadian music in their discovery engines; and
- how to close the value gap for content, which Baptiste said is being addressed by sharing a unified government-lobbying voice among the many players in Canada’s music ecosystem, and by strongly opposing safe harbour provisions in all territories.
Janice Scott, Vice President, Information Technology, conducted a brief interview with Catherine Moore, professor of Music Technology & Digital Media at the University of Toronto. Moore discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) is able to find patterns in the acceleration of music trends, comments, and other data on social media, to determine the best Canadian singer-songwriters to recruit as new SOCAN members. She also talked about how AI can strip out the vocals from various streaming versions of a song, and then separate the lyrics from the vocals, and match them to a lyric database, to better find and monetize all cover versions of a given song, even those sung in other languages.
A packed reception for members followed at the Harbourfront Lakeside Terrace, with DJ Gimmemar playing our members’ songs, and the evening wrapped up around 9:30 p.m.