This achievement maintains SOCAN position as the one of the top music rights organizations in the world. It demonstrates our strength at licensing the performing right, as well as our continued focus on efficient expense management to ensure that more royalties are provided to tens of thousands of Canadian songwriters, composers and music publishers and the millions of rights-holders we represent in Canada via agreements with 105 societies in 213 countries.
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SOCAN Financial Report 2015 (File size: 1.2 MB)
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“Today I’m gonna try and change the world,” SOCAN member Johnny Reid wrote in his 2010 hit song of the same name, and his anthem of change couldn’t be more relevant to SOCAN and, in particular, our Membership department.
2015 was a year of significant change and unparalleled accomplishment for SOCAN’s Membership team. Recognizing the imperative not just to keep up with the times, but to stay a wide step ahead of them, in March a new department structure was announced, including the creation of new strategic roles, the appointment of new leaders, and a renewed commitment to deliver on our mission of the recruitment, retention, and servicing of our members.
The re-structure resulted in three divisions:
The result is that we have more staff engaged directly with and serving members than at any time in SOCAN’s history.
All of this was accomplished without a major interruption in our day-to-day business, a remarkable feat that speaks to the resilience of our staff and the long hours of hard work that went into the planning and delivering these changes. We’re exceeding our ambitious customer service targets while balancing vacancies and new processes that enable SOCAN to be even more efficient.Read more...
Our accomplishments are like turning a (pretty nice) bus travelling at 100 km/hr into a high-speed electric train accelerating to 250 km/hr.
One of the most important but hard-to-quantify characteristics of the department is culture. We’re pleased with our progress on this front. Our current environment requires us to demand constant excellence from ourselves and those around us. This attitude is good for the department, for SOCAN as a whole, and, ultimately, most importantly, for our members. SOCAN’s more than 135,000 members are counting on us to evolve rapidly to continue our excellent track record of meeting and exceeding their needs and expectations.
The “Get Set. Get Paid” concert royalty campaign was an important initiative launched late in the year. In collaboration with Distribution, Finance, and Communications & Marketing, we worked to reach out individually to members who had missed the crucial step of submitting their set lists for shows and concerts. In the end, we were able to help them complete the royalty payment loop and put more than $2-million previously “orphan” dollars into the pockets of the members who deservedly earned these royalties.
Led by the A&R team, we retained important globally successful members (that helped drive SOCAN’s record foreign revenue), and brought several back in to the SOCAN fold, mitigating the potential loss of close to $5-million in revenue. We’re also creating new connections between members, as well as career and business opportunities for them that would not have existed without us.
We partnered with Canadian Music Week to achieve a first for Canada by awarding a major music conference and festival with a special Licensed To Play designation, confirming that more than 60 Canadian Music Week venues were licensed by SOCAN. For Canadian Music Week, we simplified the concert notification process by allowing members to submit their set list by “tweet,” which ensured members were paid even faster.
All of our member segments benefit from new Royalty Tracker expertise in the Membership department. This team is dedicated to tracking our members’ activity, and initiates claims domestically and around the world. They have been particularly effective maximizing royalties for many of our AV composer and music publisher members. Our International Relations team works in tandem with the Membership Department to proactively track our members’ activity in the Top 15 international performing rights societies – representing the source of more than 90 percent of total international revenue – resulting in more money in our members’ pockets.
In 2015 we created Kenekt, our first SOCAN-produced songwriting camp, which along with other camps sponsored by us, resulted in important new collaborative relationships for our writer members, and the creation of numerous commercially successful copyrights that earned new revenue for both writer and publisher members.
SOCAN hosted a very lively and successful songwriting circle as part of a Market Builder Residency Program for Aboriginal Artists & Music Industry, a new initiative launched by Manitoba Music and the Canadian Council of Arts, which works to connect musicians from indigenous music communities with Canada’s music industry professionals, creators, and key influencers.
We continue to work for all our writer and publisher members, across Canada in both official languages, and have many more exciting projects on the horizon. In short, I expect that 2016 will be even more transformative, challenging and successful as 2015.
After experiencing mild declines in traditional television and radio revenues since 2012 and 2013, respectively, SOCAN was pleased to see that revenue started to recover and rebound in 2015. Contributing to this upsurge was that many online music and audio-visual services in Canada continued to grow and flourish, with more new services emerging.
Our media industry is quickly changing, and SOCAN continually monitors, forecasts and proactively plans for changes, such as the growth of streaming and the potential impact of “pick-and-pay” services.
Concert revenue surpassed the $20-million mark for the first time in SOCAN’s history, and ended the year at $21.1-million. A total of $469,000 was directly attributable to new concerts accounts, a large portion of which are identified by the set lists that our members submit.
Our online B2B portal, eSOCAN, simplifies how businesses report and pay their licence fees, but also simplifies how we administer their licences. In 2015, online reports increased 25.8% and payments increased a further 40%.
For the first time since we launched the eSOCAN online payments system for licensed businesses, we surpassed $1-million to a total of $1.2-million in online payments. Allowing our licensees easy access to report and pay is also crucial as we continue to grow the number of our licensees – currently more than 131,000 – while ensuring that we keep costs low for our members.
Licensing is working closely with our Legal department to accelerate the escalations for businesses that willfully infringe on members’ right to fair compensation. This endeavour generated more than $460,000 in revenue in 2015.Read more...
Our strategic and ongoing “Licensed To Play” program continued to build through our awareness campaign. In addition to our sticker initiative for licensed establishments, we’re pleased to report that online stickers were also developed and provided to online licensees to celebrate and proudly boast of their ethical use of music and support of SOCAN’s members.
The Licensing and Communications & Marketing teams partnered with Canadian Music Week, to ensure that each of the major conference-festival’s live music venues is licensed with SOCAN and, in a North American first, designated Canadian Music Week as a whole officially Licensed To Play. True to our strategy, this has inspired other festivals, including BreakOut West, Pop Montréal, and East Coast Music Festival to proactively approach SOCAN to become officially Licensed To Play.
While acknowledging the challenges stemming from our vast and diverse country, SOCAN’s Licensing department endeavours to be a wide step ahead of other major performing rights organization worldwide. SOCAN works to ensure that licensing is easy to understand and to access, with our rates and reporting requirements easily accessible, understood and payable online.
In addition, we work closely with our Distribution and Membership departments to follow the trending preferences of how our members create and perform music. With this in mind, we’re looking at improving our end-to-end process for electronic dance music (EDM) and making sure that all online services are appropriately licensed.
Without music licensing there would be no royalties for our members. We serve SOCAN’s member songwriters, composers and music publishers, and year after year we strive to continue to build on our successes by expanding our licensing efforts to reach new licensees and bring in even more revenue that our members have rightfully, fairly and legally earned.
SOCAN’s Distribution team enjoyed its most successful year ever, with $276.2-million in royalties issued in 2015, of which $62.7-million were foreign royalties, exceeding our 2014 records for the organization by 15% and 13%, respectively.
These results were achieved by improving the accuracy and currency of the records of more than 20-million songs in SOCAN’s repertoire by the almost four-million songwriters, composers and music publishers from Canada and around the world that we represent in Canada.
By using sophisticated technology to track and analyze performance data from the more than 125,000 licensed businesses in Canada, SOCAN ensures that music creators and publishers receive fair, timely and accurate compensation for the public performance of their music.
In addition to allocating royalties to members and affiliate performing rights organizations, in 2015 the Distribution department streamlined our processes and adapted to changes in the music landscape, leveraging technology in order to manage:
The International Relations department built on our 2014 momentum with another record year for revenue, achieving $62.7-million, more than 24% above the target.
We’re proud of the added value that we’ve always provided to our members, but we’ll never be satisfied, always looking for ways to do even more. In 2015 the International team partnered with our Membership team to deploy new processes to proactively track international member activity – so that we can better and more effectively anticipate incoming revenue. We’ve participated in meetings with our songwriter/composer members, and our music publishers, and we’re part of the task force for our audiovisual composers.
The International Relations department continues to ensure that we remain top-of-mind with our sister societies around the world by calling on them in person. In 2015, we diligently met in-person with ASCAP (U.S.), BMI (U.S.), SESAC (U.S.), PRSfM (U.K.), SACEM (France), SABAM (Belgium) SIAE (Italy), APRA (Australia) and UBC (Brazil), some several times over. These face-to-face encounters generate business intelligence, and help to ensure that our members’ revenues flow back to SOCAN even faster and more efficiently.
A national non-profit organization, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) was transferred to SOCAN in late 2011. The mandate of the Hall of Fame is to honour and celebrate Canadian songwriters and those who have dedicated their lives to the legacy of music, and to educate the public about these achievements. SOCAN’s continued support and involvement ensures that the Hall of Fame will be able to preserve this rich musical heritage for years to come.
From 2011 to 2015, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame set out to establish a foundation for sustainable success, and then proceeded to develop and implement activities to help achieve and promote its mandate. In 2015, the Hall of Fame focused on building core initiatives to re-invigorate and raise public awareness of the organization and its inductees:
The CSHF introduced social media pages (i.e., Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), as well as uploading engaging blog posts on its website. These activities are part of the Hall of Fame’s comprehensive digital marketing plan, which was developed in order to increase the organization’s online presence.
In February 2015, the Hall of Fame once again began inducting songs; this time, through a new element in its song induction program: Covered Classics / Classiques Revisités. A collaboration between the Hall of Fame and CBC/Radio-Canada, the series publicly honours songs newly inducted into the Hall of Fame with tribute performances by some of our nation’s brightest musical talent. The inaugural season was a huge success with fantastic covers that promoted classic Canadian songs, captured new generations of music lovers, and increased the profile and visibility of some of Canada’s greatest songwriters and artists. A total of 12 songs (eight Anglophone and four Francophone) were inducted in 2015 and celebrated via performances by Alejandra Ribera, Nikki Yanofsky with Dan Kanter, Matthew Barber, Justin Rutledge, Jill Barber, Antoine Gratton, The Good Family, Alexandre Désilets and Royal Wood.
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame partnered with the National Music Centre, which will provide the CSHF with a permanent home in Calgary within Studio Bell. The state-of-the-art, 160,000-square-foot facility will highlight Canada’s music story through programming that includes artist incubation, performances, interactive education programs, engaging exhibitions, and an expanded collection of rare instruments and artifacts. This partnership will allow the Hall of Fame to highlight its inductees’ achievements and significant contributions to music, and have their legacies preserved through exhibitions at the Centre. The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame joins the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Collection, on level five of Studio Bell, a floor entirely dedicated to celebrating and recognizing Canadian music creators and artists who have left their mark on this country, and beyond. Studio Bell is set to open to the public in the Summer of 2016.
The SOCAN Foundation was established in 1992, as a distinct legal entity separate from SOCAN, to support events and projects benefitting songwriters, composers and music publishers. Details on the SOCAN Foundation’s programs and activities are available on its website. In 2015, the SOCAN Foundation provided core funding to 10 national associations, each of which ran programs that benefitted Canadian music creators and publishers. These organizations foster musical creativity and promote a better understanding of the role that music creators play in today’s society.
The SOCAN Foundation’s Board of Directors approved grants in several categories, such as music festivals, international showcasing and educational initiatives, which benefited 736 recipients – a 26 percent increase from the previous year.
Following an extensive search after the retirement of long-time manager Rick McMillan, Charlie Wall-Andrews was identified and appointed to the manager role.
A new Board of Directors was also appointed. The following Directors will serve on the Foundation for a three-year term: Marc Ouellette, President; Jean-François Denis, Past-President; Victor Davies, Vice-President; Craig Horton, Secretary-Treasurer; John Burge, Mario Chenart, Ajene “Agile” Griffith, Martine Groulx, Ed Henderson, Safwan Javed, Neville Quinlan, and Earl Rosen.
The Foundation’s revenue is derived, in part, through funding from SOCAN, which amounted to approximately $1.6-million for the year 2015. The Foundation also earned approximately $436,000 in investment revenue from its own endowment fund and other sources. After expenses, the Foundation distributed $1.7-million through various grants and competitions.Read more...
In 2013, the Foundation streamlined its online grant-application process and grant review process, and completely restructured the content and functionality of its website, with a new version that was launched in January 2014. Further refinements and new features were added throughout 2014 and into 2015.
In other parts of this annual report, you’ll hear about our successes in domestic licensing and royalty distribution. In addition to those activities, we had several other major successes in 2015 from an Operations perspective.
SOCAN continues to develop and deploy our new BEST operating system, which is bringing new levels of efficiency, speed, accuracy and flexibility to our business process.
We’ve launched our operational data store, which allows SOCAN to handle enormous amounts of data, which is crucial in the streaming world, where billions of transactions occur every day.
We’ve also been upgrading our technical infrastructure to process payments to members faster and more efficiently. We have not only acquired new servers and increased our capacity, we’re also using new software to help us manage our workflows. These decisions to invest in better technology have allowed SOCAN to process the exploding volume of performances in the digital space, particularly streaming of music and audio-visual content.
Similarly, we’ve brought new technologies and techniques to bear in order to increase our international collections. We’ve begun using performance monitoring services, automatically comparing the information we receive to the licensing fees we’ve received. We then immediately make claims on the performances that are missing. These activities have allowed us to secure an additional $1 million in international collections.
And SOCAN has been building new relationships both inside and outside of Canada to provide cost-effective and efficient solutions for rights holders. We are now processing data and payments for a variety of organizations outside of Canada, and the revenue from these activities helps to offset the cost of running SOCAN.
2015 was the first full year of our new Québec Affairs strategy. When developing our strategy, a core objective was to cater to and address the specific needs and concerns of our Quebec-based members, licensed businesses and other partners.
The position of Chief Québec Affairs Officer was created with a clear mandate of not only keeping a finger on the pulse of all SOCAN Québec creators and publishers, but also be SOCAN’s strong and clear voice in the media and in various industry forums, and for that voice to reflect the realities and nuances of the Québec market, notably its Francophone stakeholders.
In 2015, SOCAN’s Montréal team succeeded in making SOCAN a lot more visible to the local music scene and to local government. Here are a few of the highlights.
In March 2015, SOCAN unveiled brand new offices in Montréal. We went from a somewhat austere downtown/banking sector to a more artistic surrounding, with Just for Laughs’ headquarters and Place des Festivals just a few steps away. We feel more at home in this Saint-Laurent Boulevard location, as will our members who come to visit. Our new location is a far better reflection of SOCAN’s spirit and culture in Québec.
As Chief of Québec Affairs, Geneviève Côté voice is also now heard in SOCAN’s federal government advocacy efforts. When a coalition of Canadian industry stakeholders went to Parliament Hill in May 2015 to prepare for the federal election campaign, Geneviève met with government officials and elected MPs on behalf of SOCAN. This was a first for us as an organization.Read more...
In the fall of 2015, the Montréal SOCAN Awards took on a bold new format at Metropolis, the famous Montréal music venue. This move was designed to reflect an even more positive and current music industry vibe. Our red carpet was overflowing with members, major players from the music ecosystem and more than two-dozen media reporters, photographers and videographers, resulting in by far the most intense and widespread media coverage we have ever received, placing a brilliant spotlight on SOCAN, Québec music creation and music publishing.
Throughout the year, SOCAN’s Québec presence was strong at various local and international music events, including those tailored for “export” to markets more specifically inclined to Francophone music, for example VISA for music (Morroco), MaMA (Paris), FrancoFolies (La Rochelle), Nuit Boreale and the Great Escape.
SOCAN was proud to present a networking reception at the ADISQ Gala. We delivered a special SOCAN panel on embracing the change in the digital world with rapidly-rising Montréal-based stars Milk & Bone, and we attended SxSW, NxNE, Canadian Music Week, FrancoFête in New Brunswick, Gala des Trille Or and Contact Ontarois in French-speaking Ontario.
Another important strategic project is the new SOCAN Paris House. This location will be available to support SOCAN members looking to develop their careers in Europe. Building upon our hugely successful Nashville and LA houses, SOCAN is making available a 250 square metre flat in the trendy South Pigalle (“SoPi”) to both our writer and publisher members for professional stays.
Twenty-fifteen was an extremely productive and busy year for SOCAN’s Montréal office, and we look forward to continuing to represent our Québec members and promote all their successes here and around the globe.