Steve Marriner won the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriter of the Year honours, as well as Acoustic Act (Steve Marriner/David Gogo), Harmonica Player, and Recording of the Year (for Hope Dies Last) at the 25th annual Maple Blues Awards, presented by the Toronto Blues Society on June 20, 2022, at Koerner Hall in downtown Toronto.

Sue Foley and Colin James took home two awards each, she for both Guitarist and Entertainer of the Year, he for both Male Vocalist and Electric Act of the Year. The Blues With A Feeling Award for lifetime achievement went to Shakura S’Aida, for her long-standing career and commitment to blues music. The New Artist of the Year Award went to Hamilton band The Lowdown Dirty Mojos.

Canadian blues artists, industry, and fans gathered to celebrate the return of in-person live music, cheering on performers and winners at the gala, hosted by Ottawa ‘s Angelique Francis. The show featured performances from house band The Maple Blues Band, and guest performers Bobby Dean Blackburn, Kat Danser, Sue Foley, Angelique Francis, Crystal Shawanda, and Colin Linden.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Thierry Larose, Francos, 2022Thierry Larose, whose song “Les amants de Pompéi” earned the 2021 SOCAN Songwriting Prize, continues to garner honours. On June 18, 2022, he won the 2022 edition of the prestigious Prix Félix-Leclerc. The official presentation took place at the beginning of his Francos de Montréal show, as he was about to share the stage with Ariane Roy and Lou-Adriane Cassidy for a three-way concept show entitled “Le roy, la rose, et le lou(p)”. (“The King, The Rose, and The Wolf”)

Thierry Larose thus becomes the latest in a long list of young singer-songwriters that have benefited from the prize, awarded simultaneously to a Québecois and an artist from France – Zinée being this year’s winner of the cross-Atlantic counterpart.

SOCAN has once again partnered with the Prix Félix-Leclerc by awarding Larose a $2,500 cash prize, presented in person by SOCAN Creative and Partnerships Executive Sara Dendane. The cash prize is one of the many advantages attached to this award; the singer-songwriter also gets a $2,500 cash prize from Groupe Editorial Musinfo, an invitation to perform at the Francofolies de La Rochelle, as well as a $10,000 cash prize from Cogeco Média.

The winner of the Prix Félix-Leclerc is chosen by a jury of journalists and industry representatives selected by the FrancoFolies de Montréal. Thierry Larose was nominated, along with SOCAN members Ariane Roy, Étienne Coppée, LUMIÈRE, Étienne Dufresne, Lou-Adriane Cassidy, Lysandre, Marilyne Léonard, and Nicolas Gémus.

Congratulations Thierry Larose!

A crowd of SOCAN members gathered – online-only, for the third year in a row – to attend the SOCAN Annual General Meeting on June 20, 2022, learning about SOCAN’s major achievements in 2021.

After the duo of Neon Dreams opened the event with a captivating acoustic performance of “Life Without Fantasies,” SOCAN Board of Directors President and Chair Marc Ouellette briefly summarized the work of the Board, newly elected in 2021 – including a full governance review that’s currently still underway.

SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown then spoke of returning SOCAN’s attention to its core business of serving our members’ needs above all else. Brown also shared SOCAN’s record-breaking 2021 financial results – including a total of $353 million in royalty distributions, and a total of $310 million in domestic revenue collections (a six percent increase). She later pointed out that internet revenues have increased 176 percent since 2017, and also reported SOCAN’s efforts in striving toward diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.

Chief Financial Officer Rob Bennett looked at the numbers in greater detail, explaining how major growth in internet revenue largely made up for the decrease in live performance royalties during the second year of the pandemic. He also talked about an all-time high of $106 million in international revenue, and a 32 percent increase in international reproduction rights revenue from 2021.

Chief Membership officer Jean-Christian emphasized SOCAN’s renewed mission to offer impeccable service, focused on members’ needs, via three elements: ensuring that the SOCAN team has all the necessary knowledge to support members and answer their questions effectively; ensuring that all our employees are effectively mobilized, with a well-balanced distribution of tasks; and ensuring that we’re efficient and transparent, with our Query team answering members as soon as possible, and a new e-mail communications plan to keep them even better informed.

As for SOCAN’s wholly-owned subsidiary companies, SOCAN Foundation Board member Ed Henderson discussed how the Foundation worked to foster SOCAN members’ music, and support diversity, equity, and inclusion through many online initiatives and grant programs – such as the HER Music Awards, the Black Canadian Music Awards, and the Indigenous Songwriter Awards.

Nicholas Fedor – the Executive Director of another wholly-owned SOCAN subsidiary, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) – reported a record of more than 1.16 billion cumulative media impressions for a series of 14 televised CSHF broadcast inductions. He also mentioned that Mustafa and Ariane Roy won the 2021 Slaight Music Emerging Songwriter Awards.

A question-and-answer session ensued, with queries about what measures SOCAN is taking to improve the workplace for its employees (several); whether concerts will recover to 100% capacity in 2022 (likely not that soon, but we’ll have to wait and see); if the 2021 financial report numbers are adjusted for inflation (not for 2021, maybe for 2022); how close SOCAN is to getting domestic and international cue sheet registration backlogs completed (we’re working on it); what we can do about some radio stations paying a small fraction of what they used to (radio was hit hard by the pandemic, as many small, local advertisers disappeared, so it’ll depend on the rate and depth of its recovery).

For a more complete accounting of SOCAN’s activities in 2021, see our full Annual Report.