Jesse Rivest's Blog
This blog is old and is now sealed off for historical preservation. As a result, neither new posts nor new comments are possible.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
In this post, it is mentioned that the musicians were paid all the proceeds from the promoted concerts - so why is SOCAN entitled to a fee? Because SOCAN isn't concerned with the performing musicians - it is concerned with the performances of songs. Granted, many-to-most of the songs performed at these concerts were written by the performing musicians... but not all of them. Consider the cover songs (many performing acts perform a cover or two), or the co-writes by people who do not participate in the performances (or who are not even part of the band/act). SOCAN collects this licence fee to reimburse the artists whose songs were performed at the event.
It's also suggested that songwriters might reconsider their membership with SOCAN. But, since laws are established to enable SOCAN to collect money for performances of songs (this includes radio, concerts, TV, movies, in Canada and around the world), and since many artists' songs are being used or performed in a variety of ways, it only makes sense that songwriters and composers would join SOCAN. If they don't, they are missing out on money that they are entitled to, and which is being collected whether they want it or not. It costs nothing for an artist to join SOCAN, it's simply a matter of signing up and saying "Yes, please distribute to me my share of your collections (because otherwise, where is my share going?)."
Finally, it's mentioned that promoters (who give all the proceeds of a show to the performing artists) may find it excessive to pay a fee to SOCAN in addition to paying the performers. Look at it this way - the fee to SOCAN should be regarded as payment to the songwriters/composers, and it should be part of the overhead. Just as you need to obtain a liquor licence to sell alcohol at your event, you need to obtain a SOCAN licence to have music at your event; just as you are paying the the musicians for performing, you are paying the songwriters for composing and creating.
In the original post from i(heart)music, there appears to be an understanding that an event only needs to be licensed by SOCAN if at least one member of any of the performing acts is a SOCAN member. I'm open to being corrected; I believe that every event that uses music (live or from recorded media) needs to pay a licensing fee. Even if the band performing has no SOCAN members, they may play songs that were written by SOCAN members. Also, if the band or act is from another country, they may be members of a similar association that is affiliated with SOCAN. In any case, if an event has music involved, then the creators of that music are entitled to the money that SOCAN obtains from you (the promoter or venue manager) through a licence fee, along with a submitted list all the songs that were performed during the event.
Sounds like pain in the ass, eh? Well, as a songwriter, I appreciate receiving any extra income from SOCAN, especially knowing that they're collecting it regardless of whether or not I want it. Essentially, I'm (voluntarily) participating in an in-place system that benefits me, whereas music venues and promoters need to (lawfully) participate. I bet a lot of people could suggest alternative (and perhaps better) solutions for compensating songwriters, music composers and publishers for the use of their creations.