A rising tide of Canadian music success around the world has helped to create a buoyant year for Canada’s songwriters, composers and publishers, adding to more history-making numbers for SOCAN in 2018, as the company announced preliminary year-end results.

The largest organization in the Canadian music ecosystem once again brought in and paid out record royalties to more members than ever, with combined domestic and international collections rising above 2017 figures by at least 11% percent.

“The consistently increasing number of Canadian music creators aspiring to make a living from their creative work is similar to the halo effect we see in other industries,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “SOCAN member songwriters and composers like Alessia Cara, Alexandra Stréliski, Drake, Elisapie, Frank Dukes, Hubert Lenoir, Keith Power, Loud, Murda Beatz, Shawn Mendes, Tebey, The Weeknd, and WondaGurl are excelling globally, and they inevitably inspire others to pursue their passion for creating music as a livelihood. A first step toward a serious career in music creation is to join SOCAN, so that you can get paid for what you’ve created.”

SOCAN members once again enjoyed sizable growth in their “export music” – music played internationally. Total 2018 international royalties are estimated to be least $87-million, an increase of 15% over 2017. In addition to the widespread global success of Canadian music creators, SOCAN credited pioneering technology, unsurpassed search capabilities, improved data-matching, and a devoted SOCAN International Relations, Membership, Licensing, and Distribution teams for securing markedly better returns for members.

According to preliminary financial results,[1] SOCAN’s total royalties collected for its nearly 160,000 member songwriters, composers and music publishers continued to accelerate at a 11% clip, due to, among other factors, long-term investments in leading-edge technologies, strategic acquisitions and mutually beneficial partnerships.

Estimated 2018 highlights:

  • At least $374-million in total revenues2 – a new record, and an 11% increase over the nearly $338-million collected in 2017.
  • $315-million distributed to SOCAN members, an increase from $295-million in 2017.
  • Domestic revenue of $282-million, an increase of 8% from last year’s record, and a 25% increase since 2013.
  • Royalties from non-Canadian sources are the #1 revenue stream for SOCAN members, reflecting the incredible strength of Canadian talent and SOCAN’s repertoire, a 70% five-year increase. Of the world’s top 10 performing rights collectives, SOCAN is the only one that returns 100% of the international royalties it receives from its international partners to its members with no additional management charge applied.
  • While royalties collected increased by 11%, SOCAN’s operating expenses remained constant year-over-year, the company delivering an even higher level of service to members and licensed businesses, while maintaining costs.

In addition to being inspired by high-profile Canadian music creators, SOCAN’s Membership A&R strategy is helping to propel the careers and business of writer and publisher members. The organization held 22 song camps and regular in-house collaborative writing workshops in 2018, helping to build careers and businesses.

“Thanks for your continued support of everything we do,” said Jason Murray, Co-Founder and President of Black Box Music, an independent music publishing company based in Toronto and Los Angeles. “It’s amazing to see all the phenomenal artists showing up at your events to support. It’s a true testament to the hard work you have put into building a creator-friendly culture around SOCAN.”

The commitment to the payment of royalties by Canada’s music-using businesses is also gaining strength. Concert promoters are submitting more set lists, and the resiliency of traditional media like radio and television, a strengthening live music scene and rapidly growing digital media have pushed domestic growth ahead.

Despite the continued increase of digital royalties from the rising popularity of online businesses that use music, SOCAN again called for a more equitable share for music creators and publishers. SOCAN revenue from Internet-based licensed music in 2018 will total approximately $62-million, an increase of 27% from approximately $49-million collected in 2017.

“While overall revenues from digitally-delivered performances of music continue to climb, music creators and publishers on average are yet to see earnings commensurate with the value that their work brings to these online corporations,” Baptiste added. “To put it in perspective, the average SOCAN member who earned royalties in 2018 realized only $54 from domestic digital sources in the entire year. This has to improve, and SOCAN is working tirelessly to ensure our members actually receive what they have fairly and deservedly earned from their extraordinary work.”

With the acquisition of Canadian-based mechanical rights organization, SODRAC, in July 2018, SOCAN expanded its capabilities and offerings for music creators and publisher clients. SOCAN also welcomed nearly 1,000 visual arts and crafts creators to the organization, as well as dozens of new reciprocal agreements in the Reproduction Rights and Visual Arts domains, in addition to the more than 100 existing ones for Performing Rights. The made-in-Canada solution is the result of years of discussions coming to fruition and provides all rightsholders with a more compelling and fulsome offering.

Also, in 2018, SOCAN launched Dataclef, the back-office services arm of the company. Dataclef is an offshoot from SOCAN’s multi-year investment in technology and data assets that places SOCAN at the forefront of the world’s rights management companies.


[1] Estimates; final figures will be determined following the March 2019 meeting of SOCAN’s Board of Directors and released in concert with SOCAN’s annual general meeting in June.

2 Includes approximately $5-million in reproduction rights royalties as part of SODRAC acquisition.

With his looming induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, his upcoming EP Dreaming Time Again ready to go, and a subsequent tour booked, SOCAN caught up with our hugely successful member Corey Hart to talk about his songwriting process. Hart tells us about his autobiographical, bare-bones approach; why trying to write a hit can be “going down a rabbit hole”; and why he’s never co-written a song, thanks in part to his solo-songwriter influences.

In July 2018, singer-songwriter and SOCAN member Jason Bajada published a Facebook status which caused such a commotion that Urbania magazine invited him to expand on the topic, which he accepted. The subject of his rant? People who constantly talk during live music performances, diminishing the enjoyment of other concertgoers, there to listen to the music, not the chit-chat of “toxic” spectators and their last trip to Cuba…

And audiences aren’t the only ones who pay for this increasingly common lack of courtesy. Artists themselves sometimes have to intervene, and promoters unwillingly end up having to play the role of hall monitors. In other words, it was the perfect topic for a panel discussion that was the talk of the town (in a good way) after its two presentations during the forum component of RIDEAU, held Feb. 18, 2019, in Québec City.

On hand to try and determine solutions were Geneviève Côté, SOCAN Chief of Québec Affairs, who served as a moderator, as well as Jason Bajada, and Jean-Sébastien Martin, the Director of the Centre culturel de Joliette.

Several solutions were proposed to solve this multi-faceted issue. Although a direct intervention with the delinquent spectator remains a valid option, there’s always the risk of provoking frustration or anger, which renders it a delicate matter. The venue’s seating arrangement (club tables, theatre seating, standing, etc.) can play a dissuasive role by minimizing the opportunity to talk loudly with the person next to you. Should lounge areas be provided in order to allow people to continue talking? Should bars be located outside of the concert hall itself? Or maybe humour and education should be favoured, using messages that are broadcast before, or even during, shows, as Bajada suggests? Is being expelled from the venue, as a last resort, still an advisable option?

Eric Parazelli, Paroles & Musique Editor, asked all three panelists about their positions on the issue after the presentation: