Renowned songwriter Stéphane Venne strongly encouraged classically-trained pianist Diane Juster to start writing her own songs in the early ’70s. In 1979, with seven albums to her credit, singer-songwriter Juster won everyone’s heart in Québec with “Je ne suis qu’une chanson,” a powerful and touching ballad sung by the great Ginette Reno – who made the song hers like no one else could. Winner of the Song of the Year Félix Award that year, it was a gigantic hit – as was the album of the same name, which sold more than 350,000 copies in a little over a year. As a founding member of the Société professionnelle des auteurs-compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ) and the Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada (SODRAC), which was acquired by SOCAN in 2018, Juster has often demonstrated her aplomb and her courage. “Je ne suis qu’une chanson” received the Cultural Impact Award at the 30th SOCAN Awards Gala, on Sept. 22, 2019, at La Tohu in Montréal. SOCAN met with Diane Juster to hear about the impact of this song on her career.

SOCAN and the SCGC (Screen Composers Guild of Canada) co-sponsored the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) AMP Summit launch party and industry mixer on Oct. 3, 2019, at the Colony bar in Vancouver.

Conference delegates, local industry representatives, and members of both SOCAN and the SCGC attended. Among the notables present were Valerie Biggin (music supervisor, The Song Rep), Red Heartbreaker (SOCAN screen composer member), Jessica Hoefsloot (Tonic Records), Tonya Dedrick (SCGC),  Kristina Lao (Nimbus), Tony Scudellari (Sony Pictures Television), Rob Calder (Secret Study), Patrick Zulinov (Hyvetown), Jimmy Leitch (Music BC), Ed Henderson (SOCAN Board of Directors, SCGC), PIOTR (SOCAN member), Adrian Ellis (SOCAN member and SCGC First Vice President), Michael Averill (SOCAN member), Chin Injeti (SOCAN member), Ari Wise (Core Music Agency), and Matthew Safran (Core Music Agency).

Attending for SOCAN were CEO Eric Baptiste; Director, A&R, Rodney Murphy; Account Executive, Radio, Coralie Hummel; and Team Lead, Member Accounts, Sara Pavilionis.

On Oct. 4, Baptiste participated in a Summit panel, “Where is the Money? Global Rights and the Way Income is Improving for Creatives.” He discussed how it’s the creative side of music that supports the business side;  how SOCAN is working hard to improve the fortunes of our members; and and how the Music Modernization Act in the U.S., and other rights-management victories around the world, could benefit songwriters, artists, and music publishers.

VIFF, AMP, 2019, Composers Creating Change, Red Heartbreaker, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Starr Parodi

Left to right: Red Heartbreaker, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Starr Parodi

The “Composers Creating Change” panel was a highlight of the Summit, moderated by SOCAN member screen composer Red Heartbreaker, and featuring Starr Parodi (President, Alliance of Woman Film Composers), and Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (composers, Wendy & Lisa). They talked about the gender gap in the screen music industry, taking leaps of faith,  and leaving the rubber on the road. The entire theatre was inspired by this powerful conversation.

Other VIFF AMP highlights included “Reel Voices – Behind the Music in Red Snow,” an in-depth look at music in Indigenous filmmaking; “A Closer Examination: The Music of The Good Doctor,” in which the producers, composer, and music supervisor of the popular show explored their work in music and TV; and “A Bad Rap: The Current State of Hip Hop on Screen,” a thorough discussion of rap’s rise to popularity in film and TV.

For two days at the 2019 BreakOut West festival and conference in Whitehorse, Yukon, the SOCAN Song House provided 12 member participants the opportunity to develop the craft of writing songs. The session was led by hit songwriter/producer Stephen “Koz” Kozmeniuk — the Grammy-winning Canadian producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who’s worked with Kendrick Lamar, Madonna, DVSN, PartNextDoor, and Dua Lipa — and organized on-site by SOCAN A&R Representative Racquel Villagante, and held at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel & Conference Center.

The participating songwriters, all from Western Canada, were Ava Wild, Madison Olds, Tessa Mouzourakis, Biawanna, Csaba Laszlo, Alexandria Maillot, Sebastian Gaskin, Amelie Patterson, Mariya Soetaert, Elmutasim Fadl El Mola, Calla Kinglit, and Rayannah (Rayannah Kroeker).

The first day of the workshop they presented half-written songs and were given individualized feedback and critique by Koz. They re-worked these songs and re-presented them to the group. On the second day, they were partnered up, and co-wrote with each other to come up with new songs that fused their styles and strengths together.

All 12 SOCAN songwriters came away with new co-write connections, new songs for their repertoire, and a more comprehensive understanding of what it takes to write a hit song.

Madison Olds left the Song House saying, “The SOCAN Song House was simply amazing, and allowed an indie artist such as myself to connect and network with an incredible songwriter, who I now see as someone I can trust in the industry… maybe even an ally. There were moments of being pushed that forced me to grow out of my comfort zone.”

Tessa Mouzourakis said, “This year’s SOCAN Song House was an amazing opportunity for me to meet new writers and musicians, and learn through the process of collaboration… This has been an adventure I’ll never forget!”

“The SOCAN Song House was a great way to connect, and gain insight on my own music, and the music of other incredibly talented artists,” says Csaba Laszlo (a.k.a. NVY). “I personally valued the opportunity to meet future collaborators the most, as well as the opportunity to gain industry knowledge from Koz.”