Prolific singer-songwriter Dumas is back with – already! – his 12th album. And yet, it’s been five years between the release of Cosmologie (2023) and Nos idéaux (2018). For this project, he mainly worked with producer Philippe Brault, and Jonathan Harnois, with whom he co-wrote most of the lyrics. Although his favourite themes of existentialism and the passage of time are still there, Cosmologie is firmly rooted in the present, rather than in the nostalgia of his previous endeavour. Musically, Brault’s contribution is felt through more electronic elements, adding a synthetic aspect that’s still intimate, overall. Cosmologie also strives to be more raw than the rest of Dumas’ output to date. In the video below, Dumas explains the creative process behind Cosmologie, a short album by most standards (35 minutes), that’s not likely to run out of steam anytime soon.
The Breakdown: Song Rights versus Master Rights
What are the differences between song rights and master rights?
“Song” refers to rights in a song or musical composition itself – the music and the words (if any). These rights are generated in the writing of a song, before any recorded performance occurs. “Master” refers to the rights in the sound recording of the song or composition. The sound recording is what you hear on radio or streaming services – the recorded performance of the song by the artist. Because the writer isn’t always the owner of the sound recording (whether artist or label), these two rights ensure everyone is fairly compensated for their contribution.
Songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers are typically the owners of the rights of a song or composition. When a songwriter, composer, or lyricist enters into an agreement with a music publisher, the music creator and the publisher usually share ownership of the songs. The publisher then works to maximize the earning power of the songs by placing them with recording artists, in movies and TV shows, in commercials, or videogames, or any other medium or situation where the songs can earn as much in royalties as possible.
In Canada, usually the maker of a sound recording initially owns the master rights. When an artist enters into a recording agreement with a record label, the recordings they produce together are usually owned by the record label. The label then works to maximize the earning power of the sound recording by selling as many copies of it as possible, and/or licensing or distributing it as widely as possible (including in other territories).
When artists working with a record label produce a new song, the original recording will have at least two owners (or sets of owners) – the owner(s) of the songs or compositions (the song rights) and the owner(s) of the sound recording (the master rights). For example, co-writers TOBi, Alex Goose, and Hannah Vasanth own the rights to their song “Family Matters” (there’s no publisher on the song), but RCA Records own the master rights to the recording of the song, as performed by TOBi on his album Elements Vol. 1.
Alternatively, if a song is written, performed, and also recorded by one person, without any publisher or record company, then that person gets copyright ownership to both the song (the song rights) and the sound recording of it (the master rights). For example, Julian Taylor both wrote and recorded his song “Wide Awake,” so he owns both the song rights and the master rights (though he owns the master rights through his self-owned record company, Howling Turtle).
Synchronization royalties generate income for copyright-protected music that’s paired or “synced” with visual media. Sync licenses grant the right to use songs or compositions in any visual media – films, television, commercials, videogames, online streaming, music videos, etc. Any use of copyright-protected music in a screen project will require a master license from the owner(s) of the sound recording in order to use that recording, and a sync (synchronization) license from the owner(s) of the song itself, for the use of that song, or even a portion of it. For example, you need both a master and sync license before using the latest track from Loud Luxury in a commercial video.
The song right (to the song or composition) is divided into two kinds of rights: performance and reproduction (or “mechanical”) rights.
Performance rights generate royalties when a song or musical composition that you wrote, or co-wrote, or publish, is played in public (on TV, radio, digital media, streaming media, in background music, live performance, in movies, etc.). SOCAN’s role is to collect and distribute the royalties you’ve rightfully earned when your song is played in public.
The reproduction (or “mechanical”) right, is the right to authorize the reproduction of your musical composition or song on various media, including streaming, downloads, CDs, vinyl records, cassettes, DVDs, etc. When copies of your music are made in these media, reproduction royalties are owed to you, and SOCAN ensures that you receive the royalties you’ve earned.
SOCAN can represent both your performance rights, and your reproduction rights – the latter, on almost every type of audio, audio-visual, digital, or physical media in existence. We negotiate licensing agreements on behalf of our members and clients for the use of their works, and ensure that they’re fairly compensated for their extraordinary talent. SOCAN is essential to receiving all the royalties you’ve earned when your music is performed or reproduced around the world.
For more information: https://iconcollective.edu/how-music-royalties-work/
SOCAN and Publisher members share information in two productive Town Halls
SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown, along with several of the organization’s Vice Presidents and department heads, addressed more than 100 music publishers of all kinds for two separate online Town Hall meetings, for Anglophones on Jan. 17 and Francophones on Jan. 19, 2023 – during which we provided key information and updates on Membership Department activities, our work maximizing royalties, and improvements to data & technology, and then answered questions.
At both meetings, Chief Membership Officer Jean-Christian Céré spoke about his team, new hires, and reiterated his goal of getting back to our core activities: royalty collection and distribution. Céré also described our efforts to improve service quality, data collection and processing, and committed to ensuring that SOCAN responds more quickly to publishers’ questions. “The results of our efforts are already being felt, but there’s still much work to be done,” he said at the Jan. 19 gathering.
SOCAN Chief Financial Officer Rob Bennett disclosed that for our 2022 results, we’re seeing a solid increase in overall performing and reproduction rights collections and domestic revenue, and huge increases in digital revenue, and looking at various opportunities to continue to optimize our operating expenses.
Leslie Craig, SOCAN’s Vice President of Royalty Services, spoke about the technical improvements to the portal reporting process and the increased efficiency in processing recordings through CISAC’s harmonized cue sheet, for automatic ingestion into our systems that will benefit all our members.
Alan Triger, Head of Strategic Solutions & Analytics, talked about the work that’s been done and continues to be done on the online member portal, data cleanup of duplicates that are part of the backlog, and of the work to improve and strengthen royalty statements. Daryl Hamilton, Manager of Operations and Projects for the Membership department, said that the priority was to improve systems and communication with publishers.
At the Jan. 17 meeting, Andrea Kokonis, SOCAN’s Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, said that the Supreme Court of Canada recently agreed with SOCAN on the making available right for streaming and downloading, giving copyright owners the ability for greater control their work on those platforms. She talked about pursuing agreements for audio post-synchronization for film, TV online, and digital, and our continuing work to license TikTok. Kokonis mentioned that Bill C-11 – which includes regulations to oblige digital media companies to showcase and recommend Canadian and Francophone music, and to participate in financial support programs that help foster its creation – passed in the House of Commons in 2022, and is now being amended in the Senate.
In answering questions from the publishers, we explained the decrease in pay audio royalties; how we’ll be working in 2023 on a single login for publishers who represent multiple member accounts; and our work on making song update requests and submissions achievable by publishers themselves through the site.
At the Jan. 19 meeting, In response to questions on issues related to the portal, Jean-Christian Céré emphasized that a lot of effort has been made, and will continue to be made to improve the process of resolving problems encountered in this period of technological transition, with the goal of having a real impact on the user experience. He also committed to re-evaluate the resource requirements for audio-visual synchronization licenses, and the audiovisual sector in general, at the account executive level. Martin Lavallée, Senior Legal Counsel and Head of Reproduction Rights, summarized current and upcoming efforts to update our system, increase its capacity, and improve royalty reporting to provide more detail. “Our goal is to revolutionize our royalties statements in 2023,” he said.
It’s in these constructive, transparent exchanges that we continue to provide a level of service that reaches, and exceeds, the expectations of our publisher members.
Thanks to all of our music publishers who attended the events!