SOCAN is putting #ComposersWhoScore first as the 2022 Canadian Screen Awards approach, in April 4-10: SOCAN has determined that background music used in digital audiovisual (AV) productions (for Netflix, Crave, Illico etc) should be paid at the same rate as theme/feature music.

Prior to the change, background music was paid at 60 percent of theme/feature music, suggesting that background music was less valuable in a production than theme or feature music, and therefore paid a lower rate. The distribution rule change to 100% should be a welcome and positive development for screen composers. This change further underscores the value that background music brings to the viewing experience.

Background music is delivered by a music source that is off-camera. It’s music that’s heard by the viewers as an accompaniment to the scene portrayed, but which is not performed by, nor represented on, the screen as being heard by the characters, and where the music is not essential to give meaning to the actions of the actors.

Feature music is performed by, or represented on screen as, being heard by the characters in the scene being portrayed. It’s can also be music performed in video clips, or music performed in association with choreographed dance sequences.

The change will be applied to the May 2022 distribution for performances from April 2021 forward. Members can find background digital AV royalties in the Internet Audiovisual section of their statements.

The rule change doesn’t apply to broadcast and cable, but SOCAN is currently reviewing several distribution rules associated with TV and cable usage,  which may include background music.

For more information about digital audiovisual royalties, have a look at our explainer video.

And congratulations to all of our SOCAN member nominees for the Canadian Screen Awards!



Despite the challenges of 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in its history SOCAN’s total annual collections for licensed music are expected to exceed $416-million,[1] a 3% increase over the previous record of $405.6-million set in the financial year 2019.

When compared with 2020 collections of $391-million, the company attributed most of the $25 million year-over-year growth to $135 million collected for the use of music on digital platforms – an increase of $32 million over 2020. This more than offset the pandemic-driven downward pressure on General Licensing (primarily background music used in public spaces) and Concerts (music performed live), having decreased 70% from pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the continuing positive growth in digital music licensing, and the popularity of online streaming services, a SOCAN writer member who earned royalties in 2021 earned an average of only $67.14 from domestic digital sources for the entire year.

Revenue from international sources continued to show strength at the historically high mark of $106.1-million, demonstrating again that Canadian music creators and publishers continue to out-perform on a global level.

International music license collections were fostered by the increased popularity of digital music platforms and the strength of SOCAN members abroad.

“Given the challenges of the pandemic, at the end of 2020 we prepared for a financially austere 2021,” said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. “Thanks to a combination of more music being consumed in Canada and worldwide, and the diligence and commitment of our nearly 280 employees – working tirelessly to uncover and collect domestic and international music licenses – we were able to bring in more than ever for our nearly 180,000 members, for their incredible and invaluable work.”

Unofficial 2021 SOCAN financial highlights:

  • Total collections: $416 million (6% increase over 2020).
  • Domestic collections: $310million (+6% year-over-year).
  • Total collections from internet use of music: $135 million.
  • Strong Reproduction Rights results with digital audio-visual more than doubling, synchronization up 37%, and international revenue +32% over 2020.
  • International collections: 6% increase to $106-million.
  • Gross expenses: less than 1% increase over 2020.
  • SOCAN welcomed 6,743 new members in 2021.
  • A total of 273,646 songs and compositions registered with SOCAN last year.

SOCAN remains cautiously optimistic for 2022 for the return of in-person events and concerts as Canada and the rest of the world emerge from the two-year COVID-19 crisis.

Along with the continuing popularity of music delivered digitally, SOCAN’s steady growth in Reproduction Rights, striking various agreements with several major platforms; the addition of the Audio-Visual Broadcast Mechanical right; plus the prospect of the passage of the federal government’s Online Streaming Act to help safeguard the future of Canadian music, all bode well for a continuation of positive results for Canada’s music creators, publishers, and visual artists.

[1] Estimates. Final figures will be released in concert with SOCAN’s online annual general meeting in June 2022.



The Glenn Gould Foundation has launched Instrumental: Music and Mental Health, an online initiative for youth and teens to raise awareness and promote the value of music as a powerful aid to mental health, and to help them cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Instrumental was inspired by British pianist and best-selling author James Rhodes, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who has documented his use of music as a path toward mental health. The Foundation presented his first Canadian appearances in early 2020.

Mental health professionals, music therapists, and educators provided feedback on the content to maximize its usefulness. Instrumental’s content-rich website is easily accessible and user-friendly. It articulates the importance of music and the arts as a significant supplement to other forms of care for youth and teens. The interactive site includes self-care strategies, user-generated content, videos, lively illustrations and graphics, and a full suite of social media platforms.

Current sponsors and supporters include Heritage Canada – Support for Workers in Live Arts and Music, The Canada Council for the Arts, Power Corporation of Canada, The Jackman Foundation, and Donald K. Johnson, O.C.

The Glenn Gould Foundation is partnering and working with schools, the Canadian Association for Mental Health, the Canadian Association of Music Therapists, and various other groups. It’s also partnering with a variety of brand ambassadors and other supporters, including Luna Li, to help publicize Instrumental. Watch our trailer here.

“Music has, quite literally, saved my life and, I believe, the lives of countless others. It provides company when there is none, understanding where there is confusion, comfort where there is distress, and sheer, unpolluted energy where there is a hollow shell of brokenness and fatigue,” says James Rhodes, in his book Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music.

“Singing and playing instruments has always been a refuge for me,” says Luna Li. “Whatever I’m feeling, I know that music is there. You don’t have to play onstage or go on tour to find that. Now, there’s an online community to help teens find the mental health benefits that music offers. Whether it’s listening, jamming, or just taking a second to breathe, Music helps us connect.”