The SOCAN Foundation held the inaugural edition of the groundbreaking Equity X Production mentorship program, designed to empower women and gender minority music producers, on Jan. 9-11, 2020, at the Signal Creative Community in downtown Toronto.

Equity X Production, SOCAN Foundation“SOCAN Foundation established this national program in response to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study launched in 2019,” said Charlie Andrews, Executive Director of SOCAN Foundation. “The profoundly concerning research exposes the lack of gender diversity among the role of the music producer. We worked to fundraise and develop a program that challenges the status quo by empowering gender minorities to become producers, through education, networking, and support.”

The program is made possible with the generous support of RBC, Ableton, and Signal Creative Community (a one-of-a-kind creative hub), as well as encouragement from the SOCAN Foundation Board of Directors.

The first edition received more than 300 submissions, and allowed for only 25 participants. About 70% of the participants were from outside of Ontario, and all are SOCAN Members. Instructors Heidi Chan and Laura Dickens (both also SOCAN members) facilitated as the group of aspiring and emerging producers worked with, and learned more about, MIDI loops and keyboard mapping, drum machines and samplers, drum programming, workflows, production for live performances, and more. Ableton, in collaboration with SOCAN Foundation, was able to give the participants full access to Ableton Live 10 software.

The first-year participants were (listed in alphabetical order, by last name):

  • Ila Barker
  • Hannah Bayoumi
  • Emma Berger-Kovacs
  • Ashley Bieniarz
  • Tonya Cattan
  • Richelle Chatarpaul
  • Monique Clarke
  • Nicole Curry
  • Rebecca Emms
  • Anique Granger
  • Tajkiran Grewal
  • Eugénie Jobin Tremblay
  • Kaia Kater
  • Missy Knott
  • Kate Kurdyak
  • Alice Lin
  • Kellie Loder
  • Marie-Hélène Massy Emond
  • Ali ‘Willa’ Milner
  • Atisa Rashadi
  • Emily Rockarts
  • Jordana Talsky
  • Kirsten Taylor
  • Nimkish Younging

Also attending were Charlie Andrews; Meryl Gosch, SOCAN Foundation Project Co-Ordinator; Julien Boumard-Collier, SOCAN Foundation Administrator of Programs; Aggrey Ellis, Sales & Marketing, Ableton; and Tanya Faraday, Special Events & Programming, Signal Creative Community.

Equity X Production, SOCAN FoundationSaid SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste visited on Jan. 10, along with SOCAN CFO Diane Petrucci, to offer a word of encouragement to the participants. “This is a very innovative program, that has drawn attention around the world,” he said. “What you’re doing today is a great contribution to proving to the world that if you’re talented and hardworking, you have a place not only at SOCAN, but in the music business.” Also visiting, from the Entertainment, Media & Digital Media, Commercial Financial Services department of RBC, were Joy Yang, CPA, CA, and Joelle Finnen, MBA.

Said participant Mizz Taj (Tajkiran Grewal) on Instagram, “After hearing stories from other women from across Canada, I’m so inspired by them, and realize that I wasn’t the only one who was facing barriers as a woman in music! Not only did I leave this program being more Ableton Live 10-proficient, but I met 30 phenomenal women from across Canada and made friends to last a lifetime.”