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Brenda Howes Blog - SOCAN

Taking care of business, every day.  

To have music at an event is as important as the hors d’oeuvres. Whether it’s background music or a heart-pumping overture to introduce your keynote, music helps to set the tone of the event. It also creates some memories. Here are some tips to ensure you have the right to use the music for your meetings and conferences.

1. WHO: (The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) SOCAN represents 150K Canadian musical artists and composers and 130K members who are licensed to play. SOCAN distributes royalty revenue from licenses nationally and internationally to the artists and composers.

2WHAT: SOCAN as an organization represents the music writers and performers and ensures those using the music and songs for a commercial application pay for the right to use their music. Licensing fees are based on how valuable the music is to the business.  For example, a dance club would have a higher royalty fee than perhaps a restaurant with background music.

3. WHERE: Even if you hire a band or a DJ to perform onsite, you are still required to have a SOCAN license as this is two separate types of creative work.

4. WHEN: SOCAN represents the ‘small performing’ rights which apply to most events and conferences. Unless you are using musical scores from a performance like Anne of Green Gables by Norman Campbell, you will only need a SOCAN license and not need to get the ‘grand’ license from the publisher.

5. WHY: The creative work and talent to write, record and perform is valuable to the artist. There are exemptions: according to the Copyright Act, the guideline for a SOCAN license fee exemption is ‘in furtherance of religious, educational or charitable objectives.’ Only performances by religious, charitable or fraternal organizations and educational institutions are eligible.

BONUS: Musical work enters the public domain 50 years after the year of the death of the last surviving composer or author of the work.

EXAMPLE: In the calculator below, I input a 1,000 person room capacity with dancing and the fee came to $175. Try it for your own events. SOCAN Calculator 

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