Canadian Musician - May/June 2017 - Page 10

INDIE INSIDER SOCAN IS BEGGING YOU: Please Collect Your Live Performance Royalties BY MICHAEL RAINE IT seems like a source of great frustration at SOCAN that many songwriters are not bothering to collect their live performance royalties. While most songwriters know SOCAN collects and distributes their performance royal- ties for radio, TV/film, and online use, many seem to be ignoring their most likely source of SOCAN royalties: concerts. Maybe they don’t know this revenue stream is available to them, or maybe they don’t think it’s worth the hassle. Either way, money is being left on the table. “There are two issues,” begins Mike McCarty, SOCAN’s chief membership and business development officer. “One is an awareness issue and we work very hard to try to overcome that and appreciate this article because that’ll help; and two, even where there’s awareness, I don’t know if it’s a hesitancy or a lack of motivation to take the action they need to, to enable us to pay them, but between those two things, we spend an awful lot of time and energy here tracking down people who’ve played concerts in order to get the information we need from them to get them paid.” So how does SOCAN get songwriters paid for concerts? “Several 10 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N things have to come together,” says McCarty. “We have to have your songs in our database and you have to have them registered or, if not your songs, then the songs you performed. Then we have to get paid by the venue or the promoters – we have to have the licence fee – and then we have to know what you played. It’s kind of that simple. It’s really three things, but the latter one is where it tends to break down.” To start off, as McCarty explained and all SOCAN members should know, the organization can only pay royalties on songs that are registered, so it’s paramount that all SOCAN members keep their song registrations up to date. Second, the venue or presenter putting on the show must pay the SOCAN licence fee. SOCAN uses the money from these venue licence fees to pay live performance royalties, so if the venue hasn’t paid SOCAN, then it doesn’t have any money from that show to pass on to the songwriters and other rights holders. Luckily, most venues that regularly host live music are licenced by SOCAN. “There are a lot of businesses out there that willingly pay their fee and are happy to know that they’re supporting the ecosystem the