SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown, along with several of the organization’s Vice Presidents and department heads, addressed more than 200 music publishers of all kinds at two separate online Town Hall meetings, for Anglophones on Feb. 20, 2024, and Francophones on Feb. 22, 2024. During these gatherings, we provided key information and updates on our finances, our work maximizing royalties, Membership department activities, our advocacy (especially as regards AI), and improvements to data and technology. We then also answered publishers’ questions.

Brown reported that, for the first time, SOCAN revenues (for 2023) will reach a new record of more than $500 million. Brown talked about how concert licensing has recovered significantly from the pandemic; about SOCAN starting work on the new Spanish Point back-end system for music data; about collaborating with Music Publishers Canada (MPC) and APEM when advocating with the federal government about AI; and about SOCAN signing a licensing agreement with TikTok, with assistance from our music publishers. “We want to work together with publishers to ensure that the industry is benefitting all of us,” said Brown.

SOCAN Chief Membership Officer Jean-Christian Céré reiterated his goal of getting back to our core activities: royalty collection and distribution. Céré also described our efforts to improve the speed, transparency, and accuracy of our service to members. He mentioned our significant increase in the number of Membership team service agents, and the fact that all are now bilingual. Céré also discussed a pilot project coming in 2024, of training workshops, with both basic and more advanced content, educating members on how to work more effectively with SOCAN.

SOCAN Director, Publisher Relations, Tanya Van Luven talked about addressing music publishers’ concerns with the  impact of SOCAN’s work on their business. Although individual account executives are the first point of contact for support, Van Luven said she’ll meet with publishers on crucial cases, and is focused on what’s important to them, and how to help in their business.

Chief Legal Officer Andrea Kokonis focused largely on the crucial new advent of AI, and especially SOCAN’s January 2024 submission to the Government of Canada about generative AI, and working closely with MPC and APEM to advocate for our members there. SOCAN asked for no new exceptions to the Copyright Act; no change to authorship and ownership of music – the author must be human; and greater transparency to detect infringement. The proposed language of the federal government’s new Bill C-27 focuses on the downstream effects of AI, mitigating harm from these outputs, but SOCAN stressed the need to look at inputs in order to protect creators. Kokonis also reported briefly on the current state of U.S. and European legislation on AI.

SOCAN Chief Financial Officer Rob Bennett disclosed that for our 2023 results, we’re seeing a solid increase in overall performing and reproduction rights collections and domestic revenue, and huge increases in digital revenue, and how SOCAN is looking at various opportunities to continue to optimize our operating expenses. He cited significant increases in online music and audio-visual collections, general licensing and concerts, and revenue. He also said that growth is expected in 2024 for domestic revenue, international revenue, and overall performing and reproduction rights.

Leslie Craig, SOCAN’s Vice President of Royalty Services, spoke about changes in distributions in 2023. She reported that those for concerts and cinema have seen hundredfold increases. She also spoke of changes in 2023, to distribution rules, our speed of data ingestion, and CISAC standardized cue sheets. She reported that SOCAN members can now claim for unidentified concerts online, the first distribution for which is expected to occur in May 2024. Craig also said that SOCAN has set up testing environments for the new Spanish Point matching technology, begun planning for data migration, and started configuration activities have begun. SOCAN will soon be booking meetings with publishers for Q&A sessions about the new technology tool.

In response to questions from the Anglophone publishers, SOCAN Operations & Project Lead Daryl Hamilton said he’s looking into the issue of paid concerts still occasionally appearing on the unidentified works list. Publishers requesting access to SOCAN personnel with specific knowledge of their given specific (such as cue sheets, or the unidentified works list) were asked to first approach their Account Executive, who could then refer them further if/as necessary. Asked about cleaning up duplicate registrations of music, Leslie Craig replied that SOCAN is doing data clean-up throughout 2023 and 2024, although we’re not expecting to be fully cleaned up until 2025.

It’s in these constructive, transparent exchanges that we continue to provide a level of service that reaches, and exceeds, the expectations of our publisher members.

Thanks to all of our music publishers who attended the events!