SOCAN paid out over $240m in 2017 – but warns ‘remuneration from digital music must be corrected’

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Canadian collection and licensing society SOCAN collected and paid out record figures for songwriters last year – but has issued a stark warning over the revenue coming in from digital services.

According to the body’s preliminary financial results, SOCAN’s performance rights collections for its nearly 150,000 member songwriters, composers and music publishers topped CAD $350m (USD $285m) in 2017, a rise of 6.4% year-on-year.

Its total distribution of royalties in the year stood at more than CAD $300m (USD $244m) – the highest in its history.

Domestic revenue collection hit CAD $274m ($223m) an increase of 4.5% over 2016, and a 35% increase since 2012.

However, across SOCAN’s 150,000 members, the average annual payout from collected audio streaming revenues was just CAD $38.72 (USD $32).

This was despite a 46% increase in Internet audio streaming revenues compared with 2016, with CAD $49.3-million realized.

“if original music is to thrive or even survive in Canada, overall remuneration for digital music must be corrected to be commensurate with the contributions of music creators and publishers as well as its importance to music fans from coast to coast to coast.”

Eric Baptiste, SOCAN (pictured)

“SOCAN as an organization is collecting and distributing more royalties than ever because of the incredible work of our domestic and international licensing teams and, frankly, everyone within SOCAN,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “Investments in technology and our ability to match data with members’ songs have played a big role as well.

“However, we are restrained with our celebrations. As a new area of growth, streamed music continues its rapid uptake, resulting in a 46% increase in revenues, but, if original music is to thrive or even survive in Canada, overall remuneration for digital music must be corrected to be commensurate with the contributions of music creators and publishers as well as its importance to music fans from coast to coast to coast.”

He added: “SOCAN is collecting more overall on almost every level.

“Our investment in artificial intelligence, blockchain and other technologies position it at the forefront of the music rights industry now, providing a positive path to the future. Canada’s and the world’s music creators and publishers are receiving more of what they have earned; however, in most cases those amounts are too small because of frequently unfair royalty rates that are not commensurate with the true value of their creative intellectual property.”

Royalties from non-Canadian sources topped  $75-million – a 60% increase since 2012.

SOCAN said the substantial increase in international royalties collected and distributed ‘can be attributed to the impressive performance of members’ works worldwide, a favourable exchange rate, and the efforts of SOCAN’s International Relations and Membership teams’.Music Business Worldwide

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