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!