In a new series of articles, The Breakdown, Words & Music offers short, basic answers to the most common and essential questions from SOCAN members. This time, it’s cue sheets.

What is an audiovisual cue sheet?
A cue sheet is a document that provides details about all the music used in a screen production, whether a feature film, documentary, an episode of a television series, even a TV commercial.  The cue sheet lists any theme music and background music associated specifically with those productions, as well as any independent songs included in the soundtrack of the movie, TV show, or commercial.

How does SOCAN use the information on cue sheets to pay performance royalties to songwriters, composers, and music publishers?
On an ongoing basis, SOCAN receives programming information, which tells us what screen productions are being shown on TV and at movie theatres. Based on this information, we allocate the number of performances logged. The programming information, however, doesn’t provide any detail about what music is being used in each production. Without the cue sheet, these performances would remain unidentified and unpaid. To provide us with details about the music used in the production, we rely on the information provided on your cue sheets.

What information is provided to SOCAN in a cue sheet?
The first section of cue sheet provides high-level details about the production, including its name; the date of production; the names of the director and actors; the country of origin; foreign sales; and so on. This is useful for us to accurately identify which production should be matched to the performance information received by other performing rights organizations. The second section of the cue sheet provides specific details about each piece of music used in the production, including the title, composer (or songwriter), music publisher, ownership shares in the composition or song; and the manner of usage in the production (e.g., opening theme, background, closing theme, etc.).

Who’s responsible for submitting the cue sheet to SOCAN?
A cue sheet completed by the producer of a film or TV show is considered the authoritative source, but they can also be submitted by broadcasters, distributors, international performing rights organizations, and SOCAN members. If you’re a songwriter, composer, or music publisher, we recommend that you notify any screen production companies you work with to file their cue sheets with SOCAN, and to provide you with copies for your records.

How do I submit a cue sheet to SOCAN?
SOCAN cue sheets can be completed online and sent to Any other electronic format cue sheet may also be e-mailed to SOCAN will accept hard copy cue sheets by mail or fax.

How do I fill out a cue sheet?
You’ll find detailed instructions on how to complete a cue sheet; a blank cue sheet; and to a sample of a completed cue sheet, all here. For any additional questions, e-mail our Info Centre at, or call 1-866-307-6226.

In a series of articles, The Breakdown, Words & Music offers short, basic answers to the most common and essential questions from SOCAN members. This time, it’s Royalties for Live Performances.

If I’m a SOCAN member, how do I get paid for a live performance?
There are two ways to submit your set list from a live performance, so that SOCAN can collect your royalties for it:

You can

  1. Sign in to the secure section of our website, at
  2. Go to “SOCAN Forms”
  3. Select “Notification of Live Music Performance” (NLMP)
  4. Complete the form and submit

Or you can

  1. Go to a PDF of the NLMP form
  2. Complete the form
  3. Print and scan it
  4. E-mail  it to

Do any conditions apply for me to recieve concert performance royalties?
Performance royalties for concerts are determined by SOCAN’s distribution rules for all eligible live performances, but two conditions do apply: First, the presenter or venue needs to have paid their SOCAN licence fee; second, for shows in clubs and bars, a minimum cover or ticket price of $6 must be in place.

What are “Unidentified Concert” performances?
SOCAN maintains a list of Unidentified Concert Performances in the members’ secure section of Simply sign in, then go to SOCAN Performances & Repertoire, select “Unidentified Performances,” then select “Concerts With No Set Lists.” We encourage you to search that list for any concerts where you believe your music was performed, and for that matter, any other unpaid concerts of which you may be aware. Your help will ensure that you get paid.

How do I get paid for an “Unidentified Concert” performance?
Sign in to your account and check the unidentified concerts list. If you find a concert you’ve played that’s been filed with SOCAN but doesn’t have a set list, follow the steps to provide your set list in order to get paid. If you have no shows on the list, but have played a show within the past year, just complete and submit an NLMP form, as above.

How long do I have to submit a concert performed in Canada?
The sooner we can identify what was performed, the sooner we can get the royalties to the right people. But we won’t distribute or release any funds until we know where they should rightfully go. You have one year to report a new show you performed in Canada, if it’s not on the unidentified concerts list. Once we know the titles of the music that was performed at the concert, the rights holders will receive their deserved shares of royalties for any performance of their music at any licensed event. The Unidentified Concerts List covers performances up to three years old.

How long after the live performance of a concert performed in Canada will I get paid?
If the documentation you’ve sent us is complete, and if the promoter pays the license fee promptly, you can expect to be paid about nine months after your live performance, for a concert in Canada.

In a new series of articles, The Breakdown, Words & Music offers short, basic answers to the most common and essential questions from SOCAN members. First up is copyright.

 What is copyright?
Copyright is a bundle of rights granted by law to creators of original work. The public performance right, and the reproduction right, which SOCAN administers on behalf of its members, are only two of these rights.

Why is copyright important?
Copyright protects specific forms of intellectual property, which are creative endeavours that can be protected under the law.

Does SOCAN copyright my songs?
No, SOCAN can’t copyright your songs for you. Actually, copyright is automatically granted as soon as an original work is fixed into a tangible form. This means that as soon as you write it down, record it, make it into a computer file, or fix it in any other way, it’s your copyright. However, in order to protect your copyright, registering your claim to legally document ownership is best. Registration of copyright is useful if you ever need to prove that the work is indeed your own copyright-protected property.

How do I formally register my copyright ownership in Canada?
Contact one of the following or visit their website for further information:

  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
  • Songwriters Association of Canada (members only)
  • SPACQ – Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec
  • SARTEC (members and non-members) for French language copyrights

Can I just send my musical work to myself and keep it in a sealed envelope?
Sending a copy of your song to yourself and keeping the envelope sealed until it is needed (e.g., for a legal proceeding) can be a fact that will help establish the date you claimed authorship/ownership. It doesn’t prove that you created the song; rather, it only helps establish the date you claim the song came into existence.

How long does a copyright last?
In Canada, copyright generally lasts for 50 years after the author dies (or after the last surviving author dies, if a song is co-written). This will change to 70 years when the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed, likely in 2019.

What is “public domain”?
A song falls into the public domain when the copyright has expired. After that time, anyone has the right to record it, copy it, modify it, adapt it, and generally use it without obtaining permission. Of course, any new arrangement or adaptation of the song may give rise to a copyright claim.