ole Digital is a service that can be of significant benefit to songwriters and composers in monetizing digital content on YouTube, Google Play, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Prime, and Spotify, among other platforms.

“ole Digital was really started to ensure that all of our clients and stakeholders were getting monetization for content distributed digitally,” says Chris Giansante, ole Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration. “YouTube was the largest platform in which things were being exploited, but that was just one factor of why this division was started.”

While Giansante has always had a passion for music, it was his talent with numbers, that led him to a background in business, finance and accounting – which allows him to contribute to an industry he loves – for ole and ole Digital’s clients.

He currently leads ole’s Finance and Administration teams, which includes overseeing strategy for Conductor, the company’s proprietary data analytics and Business Intelligence system. Giansante’s role covers all of the company’s existing digital activities, including negotiation of direct deals with YouTube and other digital platforms. In many ways, the position is an extension of his work with ole since he joined the company seven years ago, in acquisitions.

“With the explosion of amounts of non-conforming data, Conductor essentially brings sanity to the madness.”

Having worked on several of ole’s major transactions (such as signing Timbaland, and acquiring the catalogues of Rush and Sony Pictures), Giansante embraced the opportunity, but says it was an eye-opener. “You’ve got a perception, before you get into the weeds, of how everything works.” He says. “But the details are incredibly nuanced and constantly evolving.”

The growth of YouTube was part of the impetus for ole Digital’s development, but it was the increasing exploitation of content through a myriad of digital platforms that prompted ole to service and monitor that developing market to ensure their clients received fair compensation for the use of the intellectual property controlled by ole.

The deployment of ole’s proprietary Conductor system, now enhanced to become a full-scale rights management platform, is key to that goal.

“Conductor is like the Rosetta Stone of data,” Giansante explains. “A tool that allows us to conform any data set to a defined standard, and then provides substantial, automated data analytics and insights related to it. We’re in an industry that unfortunately has no universal data standards. Even the so-called ‘standards’ are not standard. Conductor standardizes that ‘non-standard’ so our clients and stakeholders can benefit from meaningful data analytics and insights that maximize their royalties and the value of their intellectual property.

“With the evolution of the digital marketplace and the resultant explosion of amounts of non-conforming data, Conductor essentially brings sanity to the madness.  It’s the system that forms the backbone of our rights management platform.”

As a full-scale multi-channel network that provides assistance to channel owners in a variety of areas, ole Digital offers a level of insight that’s greater than a company that only sees a portion of the data, says Giansante. Additionally, being a full-scale publishing administrator has allowed them to “marry up” their digital collections on YouTube and other services.

“As opposed to an organization that’s collecting income from one type of right – for example, a streaming mechanical, or mechanical reproduction right – Conductor allows ole Digital to drill into the insight of the data and identify where there’s gaps, or challenges, so we can get people paid more, and faster,” says Giansante.

The platform serves both emerging and established artists, songwriters and composers in a way that’s farther-reaching than most, says Giansante, and adds that it serves clients who range from other publishing entities, to TV and film companies, to individual songwriters and composers.

“We view ourselves as a partner to our clients, not just a service provider.”

Songwriters and composers interested in taking advantage of the service can contact the company through www.oledigital.com. Administration clients are then billed a 20-percent commission, but rights holders retain 100-percent copyright ownership and are still paid from their performing rights organization for the public performance of their compositions.

“One of the factors that sets ole Digital apart from competitors is its ability to collect on all content types,” says Giansante. While contracts with digital services are relatively standard, with YouTube specifically, “as a full-scale multi-channel network we do everything – compositions, sound recordings and full audiovisual content,” says Giansante. “There aren’t many partners that have that status.

“A major differentiator is our robust technological platform, Conductor,” he continues. “We’ve been able to conform all of the data that we get from all areas we operate as a rights management company into a single ecosystem. That ability, augmented by the system’s robust analytics, gives us greater insights, so that we’re able to ensure full and complete monetization for our clients.”

“Individuals should be able to engage with a team to help them create their own channels and strategize on how they can earn more views,” Giansante says. “We view ourselves as a partner to our clients, not just a service provider, and want to assist with every avenue of the value chain we can to help clients foster their careers and ensure greater monetization.”

Imagine staying in L.A. for next to nothing. Waking up to the California sun streaming in your window, steps from famed Sunset Boulevard. Grabbing a cup of coffee, then spending the day collaborating with other songwriters and following your muse.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Thanks to SOCAN, this isn’t just a pipe dream. Just ask Jay “The Human Kebab” Parsons, of alt-rock duo USS. He and his bandmate Ashley Buchholz experienced this recently, staying at the SOCAN House in Los Angeles – a facility that they offer to their members, free, for short-term stays.

“To stay in L.A., at minimal cost, in stunning Silver Lake, was a fantasy beyond a dream,” says Parsons. “From our humble beginnings in our parents’ basements in Stouffville, to living on the side of a mountain courtesy of SOCAN – and writing what would become the biggest single of our career – we’ve certainly come full circle.”

During their West Coast songwriting sojourn, the duo made connections with the likes of former OneRepublic member Tim Myers, and wrote the first two singles (“Work Shoes,” and “Us,”) from its current album New World Alphabet, released in January 2017. The two months the pair lived and worked in L.A. last year were so fruitful that Parsons says they hope to enjoy a similar experience this summer at the SOCAN House in Nashville. There’s also a SOCAN House in Paris, used largely by its Francophone members.

“You don’t have to concern yourself with what hotel you’re staying in, and how much you’re paying – especially important last year, when the Canadian dollar was at its weakest,” the songwriter says. “You meet other collaborators and write songs every day, then come home to a house at night. There’s even a monitor set up there, so Ash and I would often lay down some demos right before bed.

“Part of the attraction isn’t just partnering with other SOCAN members in California, but that the house is provided to artists for very little,” says Parsons. “That’s a big thing! Even a band at our level, when you go off your album cycle, you have to be careful where you spend your time and money.”

The songwriting experience with Myers was another California dream come true. Myers lives in the exclusive gated community of Calabasas, where neighbours include the likes of Brian Wilson. Parsons recalls this surreal scene: “Security had to e-mail him [Myers] so we could even get into the area. We walk into this lavish mansion in a neighborhood one over from Kayne and Drake. We played him two demos of two songs. He liked them, but said ‘Let’s go in a different direction,’ and all three songs made the record.”

On “Work Shoes,” USS collaborated with a couple from Nashville, and recorded the song in Little Armenia, using a couch standing on its end as the vocal booth. Says Parsons: “Who would have thought that that song would change our band’s path and journey?”
Jessie Reyez is another rising songwriter whose journey was altered thanks to a positive SOCAN experience. In 2015, the artist — recently named one of 10 SOCAN members to watch for in 2017 — participated in the inaugural Kenekt Song Camp, held Sept. 7-11, 2015, at Shobac Cottages in the town of Upper Kingsburg, Nova Scotia.

“It was awesome,” Toronto-based Reyez recalls. “I had a great time — especially working alongside creators that I’ve respected for years, like fellow SOCAN members Jully Black and Anjulie.”

For Reyez, it’s possible some of these collaborations might end up on her upcoming debut album – a collection of music that draws inspiration from her life’s journey to date.

“The co-writing was a rainbow,” says Reyez. “[SOCAN’s] Chad [Richardson] consistently mixed us up, sporadically, so it was interesting to see what came of each session, considering the different recipe of people each day. Funnily enough, I happened to work with Chin Injeti again, not long after the camp, because he was at one of the sessions I had with DJ Khalil last year.”

Reyez highly recommends other SOCAN artists take part in a future SOCAN song camps. She says that by participating, you’ll get an opportunity to meet a lot of like-minded creative people, sharpen your songwriting skills, and learn from others’ techniques – and learn to be “more malleable when placed beside other songwriters that have a completely different process than you do.”

The bucolic setting of Upper Kingsburg, Nova Scotia was another highlight for the songwriter. “That inspired me because it was a completely new and removed environment,” says Reyez. “The fact that it was so far away from home almost added an element of extra freedom to my creativity. Also, the local artists that were invited into our sessions every day [painters, poets, photographers] was a beautiful addition, because having an audience seems to propel me in a different way when making music – like a small dose of the excitement I get when I perform. It was almost like a mini show.”

SOCAN is also working to bring the song camp experience to as many SOCAN songwriter members as possible, with its new “Song Camp Mondays” initiative, whereby members can apply to participate in a three-person, one-day writing session at the SOCAN Toronto office. The monthly Mondays are designed to help our songwriters build their relationships, gain experience collaborating, and advance their craft.


When we connect, Doug Oliver, drummer and co-manager of Cold Creek County, is in the middle of making some new music. The JUNO-nominated band is recording and rehearsing its sophomore release in Brighton, Ont. The first single (“Our Town”) from this forthcoming album came to life in June 2016 during a co-writing session at Toronto’s SOCAN Sound Lounge.

“I wrote our first single with Gavin Slate and Travis Wood at the SOCAN lounge and that was pretty cool,” Oliver says. “I didn’t even know they had a sound lounge. It’s a little studio set-up, with monitors, where you can do your thing and make as much noise as you want. It’s a really cool and chill environment.”

Did Oliver know heading into this session that he’d walk out later that day with a single?

“Of course not,” he says. “I was just looking for a place to write, and the doors at the SOCAN lounge were wide open. I jumped at the opportunity. That’s the funny thing with writing songs. You write 100 songs to get maybe two or three cuts. We went in that day with a song idea and a title and the next thing you know it’s the lead single for our second record.”

As the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) enters its 68th year in 2017 as the oldest music trade association in Canada, not only can it look back on its storied history as an agent of change and a dogged opponent of legislative stagnancy in matters relating to safeguarding and advancing the interests of composers and publishers, it can also look forward to a similarly ambitious agenda in the coming year, in creating global business opportunities for its members and promoting their interests, and those of their songwriting partners through advocacy, communication and education.

A recently released report by Circum Network Inc. on the state of the Canadian music publishing industry, commissioned by CMPA and the Association des professionnels de l’édition musicale (APEM), revealed that, in the most recent year, their members’ businesses generated $199 million in revenues – 73 percent of that total from foreign sources.

Margaret McGuffin

Margaret McGuffin

The association will build on that solid foundation moving forward with Executive Director Margaret McGuffin and newly-elected President Vincent Degiorgio at the helm. Jodie Ferneyhough, with his 13 years of domestic and international experience as CMPA President and as a board member of the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), remains on the CMPA board as Vice President.

McGuffin, who will oversee the CMPA’s various strategic initiatives in the next year – which will focus on advocacy, leadership, education, market development, promotion and member relations – has been widely hailed as the right person at the right time to take on the challenges that await given her impressive body of experience which includes time as CEO of the Musicians’ Rights Organization Canada (MROC), as a member of the senior executive team at Access Copyright, and as a consultant to some of Canada’s leading copyright collectives, including the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA). She started her career at Connect Music Licensing (previously AVLA) and Music Canada (then CRIA).

“In the coming year, CMPA will collaborate with other trade organizations, including those in ACCORD and the Music Policy Coalition, to pursue our overall objective of strengthening the Canadian music publishing industry,” says CMPA President Vincent Degiorgio. “We will continue to champion the role of music publishers, songwriters and music creators in areas such as copyright, Canadian content in the digital world, and Canada’s innovation agenda.”

Creating global business opportunities for its members is an integral part of the association’s market development strategy which includes trade missions for publishers and songwriters, and the continuation of the highly successful Canadian Music Café initiative held during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It provides the opportunity for a select group of Canadian creators to showcase for a lineup of prominent music supervisors from the worlds of film, TV, advertising and video games.

CMPA is also providing international business-to-business opportunities with programs like CMPA Create Germany and CMPA Create L.A., which will provide the opportunity for its publisher members to meet with their peers, record labels, film and TV music supervisors in those territories, and offer the chance for their songwriters to collaborate with local writers during songwriting camps.

Beyond member relations, which will see the association develop enhanced communications to its members and stakeholders, CMPA is on a mission to define and increase the profile of music publishing by educating partners and stakeholders – and the public at large – on the role of music publishers and their song writing partners.

Many a publisher has mused over the glazed look they get at social engagements when they respond to the question of “What do you do?” CMPA and APEM, in collaboration with the SOCAN Foundation, recently defined, with great clarity, the role of music publishers with an engaging animated video featuring Sophie the songwriter and Patrick, her music publisher. Thanks to this short but informative production, the answer to that dinner party question is now, “Here, have a look at this!”