First and foremost, everything starts with the music. Indie hip-hop collective Grand Analog’s songs are uptempo, musical, with positive messages, no misogynist lyrics, and no samples. What music supervisors would call “synch-friendly.” The first time I saw them play live, I was hooked. And that’s saying something, because it was 10:30 in the morning, in a room with zero atmosphere! I took a copy of their debut album home, and it confirmed that I wanted to work with them. Signing Odario Williams, Alister Johnson and Warren Bray, the main songwriters in Grand Analog, to co-publishing deals was the one of the best music business decisions I’ve ever made. We recouped our artist advances within six months.

The second thing that’s contributed to Grand Analog’s success is that we built a very strong team around them. I’ve been working with Steve Scharf of New York-based Steven Scharf Entertainment for 15 years. I handle Canada and Steve handles the U.S. For the world outside of Canada, I have set up sub-publishing or administration deals with music publishers in key territories, who pitch Grand Analog’s music for synchs.

Some Synch Standouts
Lowriders (feature film starring Eva Longoria)
NCIS Los Angeles (CBS)
Ten Days in the Valley (ABC)Criminal Minds (CBS)
Sons of Tucson (Fox)
90210 (CW)
Kim’s Convenience (CBC)
2010 Winter Olympics (CBC)
North American ad campaign for Wendy’s

Having said that, we got off to a bit of a rough start with Steve. He landed a Grand Analog song in the Entourage television series for a $10,000 USD fee. However, it turned out that there was a sample in this particular track from their first album (which was recorded before we started working with them!). It was from an old reggae song, and by the time, we figured out who owned the master recording, and who published the original song, to clear the sample, it was too late. We lost the opportunity.  We moved on from there and, between us, we have landed Grand Analog songs in more than 65 films, television shows, and commercials.

The third contributor to Grand Analog’s success is relationships. I have good relationships with the various Canadian music supervisors that I work with, and the same applies to Steve in the U.S. For a number of years, Steve was also the Senior Vice-President of Creative for Carlin America, one of the largest independent American music publishers (until it was sold recently). It helped Steve gain access to music supervisors, film and television producers, and advertising people. It was a relationship of Steve’s that got Grand Analog the opportunity to showcase at a special event in New York for 150 advertising executives. Grand Analog blew the roof off the place, and, six years later, one of the advertising people that was in the room ended up using a Grand Analog song in a North American advertising campaign for Wendy’s.

An important but overlooked factor in Grand Analog’s success is the fact that we are “one-stop shopping.” There are two rights that have to be cleared every time a song is featured in a film, television show or commercial: the synch rights (who owns the song), and the master rights (who owns the recording of the song). In Grand Analog’s case, we co-publish the songs with the three songwriters’ publishing companies, and administer the publishing on behalf of any additional songwriters. The recordings are either owned by Grand Analog Music or our company, the Shadow Cabinet Music Group. So, between the artists and ourselves, we control all of the rights, and can clear them all easily and efficiently. In other words, it’s one-stop shopping, and never takes more than one phone call.

Of course, we also ensure that all of the metadata of any synched song is correct – which is crucial in order to make certain that any money generated by synchs gets to where it’s supposed to go!

Grand Analog have a current EP, Survival, featuring guest artists Posdnuos of De La Soul, Shad, A Tribe Called Red producer 2oolman, and Clairmont The Second. “Donna Summer”, the first single from their next EP, Peace Tapes, will be out in June 2018.

Attention SOCAN members! Need funding to help you get to a showcase performance at SXSW in Austin, Texas? Nominated for a JUNO Award but don’t have adequate resources to fly your 10-piece band to the distant host city?

The SOCAN Foundation can help, with a set of grants that cover these kinds of situations, and more.

Grants for music creators, music publishers, and individuals

Travel Assistance
Grants are provided to SOCAN composers, writers, and music publishers across all genres of music to assist with travel-related costs for career-building or career-defining activities in Canada or abroad. The Foundation gives priority for approval to applications demonstrating the importance of the activity to the applicant’s career. Activities that are eligible could include, but aren’t limited to, award presentations, collaborations, important performances, residencies, showcases, and workshops.

Professional Development Assistance
The Foundation provides grants to SOCAN composers, writers and music publishers across all genres of music, for upgrading their skills and knowledge, or acquiring new skills and knowledge, to advance their careers. Recipients can use these grants to pay for registration and/or incidental fees associated with activities such as conferences, courses, seminars, and workshops.

The SOCAN Foundation also provides grants to financially assist organizations who foster music creation ultimately benefitting the music creators themselves. These include SOCAN-licensed music presenters; educators; book/journal/digital media publishers; online music presenters; and those who want to commission music.

Grants for Organizations

Canadian Music Presentation, Education, Publication, and Dissemination
This multi-project program has four independent components. Each project must nurture an environment supportive of Canadian music creators, Canadian music publishers, and audiences. Music Presentation events can be, for example, a showcase, single concert, concert series, or festival. To be eligible, these events must include at least 50% of Canadian music. Education activities can range from presenting workshops for songwriters, composers, writers and publishers to the introduction of Canadian music in schools. Publication activities may include research and writing towards the publication of books or journals (printed or electronic), production of performance scores (printed or electronic), and digital dissemination of audio or audio-visual recordings. Dissemination activities should have a strong emphasis on digital content, and can include requests to support the recording of live concerts devoted to Canadian music, for online viewing and other initiatives.

Work Commissioning Assistance
Grants are provided to assist individuals, corporations, performers, ensembles, and presenters in the commissioning of SOCAN members to create new works in all genres of music. The overall intent of this program is to reach beyond local, regional, provincial, and federal arts council funding bodies, and encourage other members of our society (individuals, organizations, or companies) to commission new musical works. The Foundation gives priority for approval to applications demonstrating that the commissioned work will have a public performance.


Do SOCAN Foundation grants help? Here’s what just a few recipients have to say…

“The SOCAN Foundation was instrumental in making this trip a success for me. In fact, if they had not made their contribution, it’s unlikely that I would have been able to afford to attend the conference in the first place. Because of their generosity, I was able to connect with artists and industry representatives from all over the world, and build relationships with key individuals from territories to which I plan to market my music someday soon. SOCAN Foundation allowed me the opportunity to take my music career to the next level.”
Josh Sahunta, who received a Travel Assistance Grant to attend the Folk Alliance Conference in 2018

“There was a great review of Madison Violet in the Kansas City Star, we solidified future gigs, and started several new, potentially very helpful relationships with industry in several major markets. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of SOCAN Foundation.”
– Lisa MacIsaac, of Madison Violet, who received travel assistance to get to the Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City in 2017

“As a West Coast artist, making trips to Toronto is invaluable to building a career. It can get very expensive, and would be much more financially draining without SOCAN Foundation’s support. By being in Toronto ahead of my album release, I was able to participate in media coverage, including performing live on Global News Toronto to promote my Toronto show.”
Jasper Sloan Yip – Travel assistance to get to the Folk Music Ontario Conference

“We feel really fortunate in Canada to be able to count on an organization that supports not only arts in general, but individual artists such as myself. I’m newly Canadian, and I feel supported as an artist having organizations like SOCAN Foundation, giving financial help that allows me to be part of important events — not only in Canada, but worldwide.”
Magdelys Savigne, of Toronto-based, JUNO-nominated band Battle of Santiago, who received a Travel Assistance Grant to attend the 2018 JUNOs in Vancouver

“It was such a privilege to be at the Maison Symphonique of Montreal for the world premiere of “whirly”. Working with the conductor and the musicians of the Orchestre Symphonique of Montreal was amazing, and has already led to some new connections for future performances… I ardently believe in the importance of being there in person for educational concerts, so students have a chance to meet living composers. Without funding from SOCAN Foundation, it would have been difficult to be there in person.”
– Travel Assistance grantee Monica Pearce

“Playing at SXSW was a long-time dream of ours. It was somewhat out of reach, because it’s such a huge festival, but we managed to make it. Thanks to the SOCAN Foundation, we were able to focus our collective energy on our showcases and not worry about the budget. All our energy was devoted to the music.”
– Travel Assistance grantee Laurence Giroux-Do of Le Couleur

“When we went to perform at Morongo School, the youth were all involved in the performances, they were very engaged, and they all participated. The value that SOCAN Foundation has given, is that we got to share our languages together. Jeremy Dutcher sang in Maliseet, and I sang in Cree.  Dreezus performed hip-hop and Kristi Lane performed rock.  It was great to share our music and language with the Southern tribes of California.”
Rhonda Head, who received travel assistance for a Trade Mission to Southern California

“One of the success stories of the trip was working with Colin Munroe on a new song we wrote together, called ‘Explicit,’ which has become part of my shop package to labels, publishers, etc…. The SOCAN Foundation has had immense value, because without this opportunity I wouldn’t be able to work with such great creatives, and refine my pitch for 2018.”|
Briannah Donolo – Travel assistance to get to Los Angeles for co-writing

“Thank you, SOCAN Foundation. Thank you for allowing me to catch my breath. Money sometimes takes up too much space in our minds. I like to go on tour with a rested, free, and open mind, so that I can present my art in a fully dedicated way, and give the best show possible.”
Sarah Toussaint-Léveillé, who received travel assistance for a showcase at Chainon manquant and L’Estival, in France

“This was our first, exploratory incursion into Mexico… Following our trip, a radio station in Mexico City started playing our song ‘Paloma’!”
– Vincent Lévesque of We Are Wolves, funded for a series of concerts in Mexico

Because of financial concerns, some musical projects never progress past the “light bulb” stage. So, unsurprisingly, one of the most common questions SOCAN members ask is, “How do I get funding?” Although we can’t cover everything in one article, here are some representative samples of available grants at the international. national, provincial and municipal levels.

Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) – Research and Creation Program

Still in the very early stages of your musical project? Start by applying for CALQ’s Research and Creation program. Admissible projects include composing songs and musicals, creating musical arrangements, doing exploratory research in stage direction, interpretation, scenography and sound design, as well as recording demos for non-commercial purposes.

You’ll be entitled to living expenses of up to $1,700 per month, as well as a budget for research and experimentation expenses, for the fees of participating and collaborating artists, etc., up to a maximum total of $25,000.

First, read the Eligibility section and then create your account on Mon Dossier CALQ to fill out the application form. You’ll find all the details regarding the general terms and conditions, rules, project types and fees. You must submit the application at least four weeks before the project starts.

If you have less than five years of professional artistic experience, you can also apply for the Research, Creation, and Exploration program for emerging artists. The maximum budget is $15,000.


Whether the funding is used to produce or market an album, stage show, or showcase in Canada or abroad, Musicaction can financially support your project, as long as it’s in French (with an exception for world music).

Album Production

Self-producing artists can apply for a grant from Musicaction to produce their album. The application is evaluated based on

  • artistic value (you’re required to submit three demos – why not send in the ones you produced thanks to the CALQ’s Research and Creation program?);
  • the professional environment of your project (who will be the producer?, Do you have a manager and booker?, etc.); and
  • the commercialization plan (will you hire a press agent or radio tracker?, etc.).

Musicaction’s funding can’t be more than 50% of the admissible expenses, up to a maximum of $25,000, for applications evaluated by a jury.

If you prefer a shorter format than that of an album, you can also submit for the Production et promotion de titres (song production and promotion) program. Musicaction’s maximum funding for a four-song EP can’t be more than 50% of the overall cost, up to a maximum of $12,000 (or $3,000 per song). Your application must include a promotion budget, and here again, funding can’t exceed 50% of admissible expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000.

If your application is accepted in one of these programs, the writers and composers of the songs on your EP or album will each get $900 per song ($450 for the lyrics and $450 for the music), up to a maximum of $4,000.

Finally, for emerging artists who don’t yet have an official recording, there’s the Soutien à l’émergence – Volet 1 : Aide à la production (Support to Emerging Artists – Part 1: Production Assistance), which can help you to produce two to four digital songs. Musicaction’s funding is capped at $5,000, but it can represent 75% of all admissible expenses. The jury evaluation only considers the artistic quality, and your evolution over the last few years.

The next application deadline for all three programs is September 3, 2018.

National Commercialization

If your album already has the required funds for production, whether self-financed or from other sources, Musicaction can help fund its promotion (media relations, radio tracking, launch party, video production, ad buying, showcases, openings, concerts). You’ll be evaluated based on your professional environment, the quality of your commercialization plan, and your project’s return on investment.

Musicaction can fund up to a maximum of $50,000, as long as it’s not more than 50% of the admissible expenses. Other limits have been implemented with regards to certain expenses, so pay attention when you read the program.

The next application deadline for this program is also September 3, 2018.

International Commercialization

The commercialization of one’s music abroad can be quite an expensive endeavour, whether or not you already have partners in those territories. You can apply to Musicaction for financial help to explore a target market, or develop your career in that market. Admissible expenses include the fees of artists, musicians, backing vocalists and technicians, travel (car, train, plane, etc.), and lodging expenses, as well as per diems (daily living expenses).

The total amount can vary according to the nature of your activities, but Musicaction’s funding will always cap at 50%, except if your performance is part of an official showcase (in which case it’s capped at 75%).

Applications can be submitted anytime, but no later than one month prior to the planned activities.

Québec City: Première Ovation

Residents of Québec City can apply for this program, administered by l’Ampli ,whose goal is, among others, to promote the emergence and career development of new talents.

You can apply to its Formation/Perfectionnement (Training/Improvement) program and submit a request for pairing with another artist in order to acquire certain specific skills to be added to your artistic approach. The fee of that professional, as well as their travel, accommodations, and subsistence expenses, and the fees required to complete the project, are admissible expenses in your budget. Première Ovation will fund up to a maximum of 75%—and $5,000—of the admissible expenses.

As for its Outils de développement de carrière (Career Development Tools) program, Première Ovation offers support for the strategic stages of your career development, whether you’re launching an album, creating a sound or video production, or making digital communications tools. You can apply up to three times a year, each time allowing you a maximum of $1,000 per item, or $2,000 for a multi-item strategy, up to a maximum of 75% of the admissible expenses.

You have to submit the application at least two months before the project begins, if its budget is $2,000 or less. For more substantial applications, you have to follow these deadlines:

  • April 1st for projects that begin on or after June 1st;
  • June 30th for projects that begin on or after September 1st
  • December 1st for projects that begin on or after February 1st

Programs destined to minority Francophones

Aside from Musicaction, which allocates funding to minority Francophone communities, certain provinces have also created sought-after programs for Francophone artists.

Here’s are a few of them: