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.

Savannah Ré

Savannah Ré performs at the SOCAN 2018 AGM.

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.

Dr. Catherine Moore

Dr. Catherine Moore speaks SOCAN 2018 AGM.

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.

SOCAN 2018 AGM

At the reception following the SOCAN 2018 AGM.

 


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SOCAN is pleased to see new measures announced today by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly as part of the new Creative Export Strategy. SOCAN has long been encouraging the government to address the export of our cultural goods; as such, the announcement offering new tools to achieve this end is welcomed.

“With the new technologies, the world is within the reach of Canadian Creators, and providing them with the means to make their mark on the international stage is a winning strategy,” said Eric Baptiste, SOCAN’s Chief Executive Officer. In SOCAN, the Government of Canada will always find a partner committed to further developing markets for our Canadian Creators, both at home and abroad.


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SOCAN confirmed today at its annual general meeting in Toronto that a record $352-million[1] in total royalties from the use of music by its songwriter, composer, and music publisher members were collected in fiscal year 2017, continuing a seven-year trend, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 by eight percent.

Highlighted by a 44 percent increase in revenue from Internet sources to just less than $49-million, and a 13 percent surge of $76-million in royalties from countries outside of Canada, a record $295-million was distributed to music creators and publishers.

SOCAN 2017 Financial Highlights:

  • Record total revenue – approximately $352-million in overall revenue in 2017, an 8% year-over-year increase.
  • $49-million from Internet collections – while growing with the popularity of music from digital sources, the reality is that because of the dynamics of digital services and the relatively poor discoverability of Canadian content, the average SOCAN creator-member who earned royalties from digital sources collected only a few pennies more than $37 in 2017.
  • Nearly $300-million sent to members – SOCAN’s administration rate is one of the smallest of the world’s top-10 performing rights organizations.
  • A 48% increase in foreign royalties[2] since 2013 – royalties identified, collected and distributed to SOCAN members from international radio, television, online, on-stage and other public performance uses came to $76-million, an all-time high and SOCAN members’ #1 royalty source.

“We are delighted to deliver to our members a record overall amount of royalties in 2017, but there is still much work to be done to ensure that Canada’s music creators and publishers receive what they rightfully have earned and deserve a larger piece of the pie for their extraordinary work,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “Today, SOCAN is accessing, creating and harnessing technology so that we can even more fully and completely identify, license, track, match and distribute more for our members. SOCAN continues to fight for the rights of our members to receive a fair portion from businesses that use music to help their bottom line.”

An example of SOCAN’s increasing use of technology is the company’s work with the University of Toronto’s Department of Computer Science & Innovation Lab. At the annual general meeting, SOCAN Vice President of Information Technology Janice Scott led a special session with Adjunct Professor of Music Technology & Digital Media Catherine Moore. The technology leaders discussed the two organizations’ exclusive work together, including in artificial intelligence and machine learning, providing a snapshot of technology-driven projects designed to find and match more music performances with even better volume and accuracy.

At the meeting, SOCAN also announced that it surpassed the 150,000-members milestone when songwriter Ariel Gold of Toronto joined Canada’s largest organization in the Canadian music ecosystem. This summer, Ariel is planning to release her next single, “Weather,” from her upcoming album of the same name.

The company also introduced its Board of Directors for the 2018-21 term. The new 18-member SOCAN Board now counts eight women, improving gender balance, reflecting the balance and diversity long enjoyed in the organization’s management team and overall staff.

For full financial statements and an overview of 2017, visit www.socanannualreport.ca.


[1] As always, SOCAN’s revenue information is subject to pending decisions of the Copyright Board and the courts and such potential changes are discussed in SOCAN’s audited financial statements in accordance with applicable accounting standards. 

[2] SOCAN is one of very few music rights organizations worldwide that returns 100% of royalties collected from international sources to its members, with no administration percentage applied.


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