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

What are mechanical royalties?
Mechanical royalties are royalties paid to a songwriter, composer, or music publisher whenever a physical or digital copy of one of their songs or compositions is made. They’re the royalties earned from the right to mechanically re-produce your recorded song in almost any format. For example, when a record label presses a CD or vinyl album of your song, or songs on an album, you’re owed mechanical royalties. The same holds true if your music is reproduced for a digital download, or an interactive stream.

Who pays mechanical royalties?
Mechanical royalties are paid by whoever obtains a license to reproduce and distribute your song or composition. Mechanical rights are broadly based on the act of mechanically reproducing your music, and as such, are one type of what are called “reproduction rights.”

Who collects mechanical royalties?
Until 2018, a music publisher, or a self-published songwriter or composer, accessed their reproduction royalties either via the CMRRA (the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency), or SODRAC (the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers & Publishers in Canada). In 2018, SOCAN acquired SODRAC, and added mechanical rights administration into our collection and distribution services. Now SOCAN can help you collect mechanical royalties, both in Canada and foreign territories. One registration now means two rights collected (both performance rights and mechanical rights), should you choose to assign both those rights to SOCAN.

How are mechanical royalties collected?
The collection organization (the CMRRA or SOCAN) grants mechanical licenses to people or organizations who want to reproduce music for public sale or broadcast, in exchange for the payment of license fees, which it then distributes as royalties to the songwriters, composers, and music publishers who created and administer that music.

We’ve all heard the horror story, time and time again: the band van, parked in a sketchy neighbourhood where the club’s located, gets broken into and looted of every last guitar, bass, amp, keyboard, mic, stand, and drum. Unfortunately, there seems to have been an increase in gear theft recently, but there are actions you can take to protect yourself and your band. To that end, David Hamilton, President and CEO of Front Row Insurance, has provided some tips and tricks below about guarding your instruments, and some information on how to insure them, so that you’re protected in any worst-case scenarios.

  1. Anonymity

One of the best ways to prevent your instruments from being stolen is to remain as anonymous as possible – in terms of your band and your instruments.

  • Avoid having band stickers on your vehicle and instruments, so that you aren’t a clear target.
  • Tint or paint your windows or buy blinds, so people can’t see into your vehicle, your rehearsal space, or any place you store your instruments.
  1. Security

This one might sound obvious, but there are a few critical steps you can take to make sure that you’re keeping your items as secure as possible. These include the following:

  • Install an alarm.
  • Develop a protocol to make sure that your vehicle is locked at all times. Even when you’re loading in, and might be making several back-and-forth trips to a club, concert hall, or rehearsal space. This happens a lot with bands and musicians, and presents an easy target for thieves.
  • Chain all of your gear together in your van or trunk, so that if a thief does a smash-and-grab, they won’t be able to get away quickly, or even at all.
  1. Parking

Many instrument thefts happen overnight, so it’s important to be careful about how and where you park.

  • Park your vehicle back against a wall whenever possible, so that it’s harder to get in the back doors.
  • Park in the underground garage of your hotel, rather than the surface lot.
  • Leave your vehicle at a tow truck yard: they are manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The cost is usually reasonable for the protection provided.
  1. Keep Records

In the unfortunate case that something does get stolen, it’s important that you have the proper records. It helps with the investigation, and increases the chances of your property being found.

  • Take pictures of your instruments – this way you’ll have an image to present should something be taken.
  • Keep a record of serial numbers. This way investigators will absolutely know if an instrument is yours or not.
  • Store a copy of the appraisal if the instruments are more than five years old. Vintage gear will be likelier to have the best claims settlement if there is an appraisal to which insurers can refer.

In the unfortunate event that your gear is stolen, you’ll really only be protected from losses if you’ve chosen an insurance provider that specializes in instrument insurance for professionals (like Front Row, which offers special discount rates to SOCAN members). Most homeowners’ policies don’t insure instruments and gear used professionally, or damage caused by airlines, so be sure to source a policy for professionals. This ensures that all of your bases are covered, and the tools of your trade will be protected.

Front Row offers one-stop online shopping with low rates, flexible options, and excellent service. You can buy protection online with no need to speak to a broker. For more information on how to insure your instruments, click here.