SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown elaborated on SOCAN’s approach to the role of artificial intelligence in music, at a social hosted by Arun Chaturvedi and Tiffany Ferguson of the Songwriters Association of Canada (S.A.C.) on March 24, 2024, during JUNO weekend, in the SOCAN HQ space at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Halifax.

“We must ensure that human songwriters and composers are at the heart of decision-making when policy-makers and licensors tackle A.I.,” said Brown, to a ballroom full of about 100 musicians and music industry representatives. “Every A.I. generation tool is currently creating songs using your work, your creations, and it’s wrong. There’s no A.I. application that can capture lived experience and emotion the way that our songwriters do… We’re working on the best solutions, to make sure that these platforms are paying for the music that they’re using. And we’re finding ways to ensure that you can work with A.I. in a healthy way, where you have control over your work, and you receive proper credit when it’s used.”

As part of the session, several speakers from the Canadian music ecosystem – including Hussain “Spek” Yoosuf, Reservoir Media, Executive Vice-President, International and Emerging Markets, and Byron Pascoe, music industry lawyer and Partner, Edwards Creative Law – shared their single most valuable piece of career advice.

Haviah Mighty said it was crucial for her to break the rules. “As I continued to create,” Mighty said, “I didn’t realize that as an artist, the spaces I was taking up, were, by proxy of who I am, breaking a lot of rules. A lot of the first shows that I performed, people would be surprised that I was a good rapper and female. They would always say, ‘Wow, you’re really good, for a girl.’ I was breaking rules just by rapping.”

Mighty recounted similarly, unintentionally breaking the rules by being part a four-person, all-female rap crew, The Sorority. And again, in her solo career, by releasing 13th Floor – an album so socially and politically charged that she “honestly thought I was shooting myself in the foot”; in the end, it earned her the $50,000 Polaris Music Prize. “More and more, I realized the most success I garnered was from breaking rules,” she said.

Mauricio Ruiz, the founder of Mad Ruk Entertainment – an international content production agency whose clients include The Weeknd, Eminem, Future, H.E.R., and Celine Dion – stressed the importance of asking questions. He told the illustrative story of how, in 2015, Partynextdoor, managed to gain entry to an exclusive writing retreat for Rihanna, and then to wrangle  some in-person face time with her.

“As a songwriter making the song for Rihanna,” said Ruiz, “he just became an investigator. He asked a bunch if questions. Like, ‘What’s your favourite sense? What’s your favourite food? Favourite liquor? Do you smoke? What turns you on?’ Fully embodied her, so he could write a record, and just really have that experience of who she is as a person. And an hour later, Partynextdoor wrote ‘Work.’ Never be afraid to ask the questions. Everybody, at every level, always does it.”

To complete the presentation portion if the event, Bambii – a freshly minted 2024 JUNO Award winner, in the category of Electronic Album of the Year (for Infinity Club) – performed, to the delight of the crowd.