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SOCAN Collections Top $405M in 2019, But Says Average Domestic Digital Royalties Still Too Low

Canadian performing rights organization SOCAN has released its preliminary numbers for the fiscal year 2019, reporting that its annual collections exceeded $400-million for the first time. The estimated total is $405.5 million collected, an 8% increase over the previous record of $375 million set in  FY2018.

SOCAN  attributed most of the approximately $30-million growth to an increase  of approximately $23-million in collections from digital sources, as  well as an additional $7-million from reproduction rights collections,  following SOCAN's 2018 acquisition of Montréal-based SODRAC.

While  digital collections ($86.1-million) increased by approximately  $23-million (38%) over the $62.5-million of 2019, a SOCAN member who earned any  royalties last year earned an average of only $67 from domestic digital royalties – despite it being a $13 (24%) increase over the 2018 average of $54.

"Royalties  from television, radio, international, and concerts remain strong, but  most growth this year came from domestic digital sources and it is clear that more must be done to improve the SOCAN writer and  publisher's share from streaming royalties," says SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. "The Canadian government has acknowledged that Canadian content rules and discoverability must be modernized for the digital  age. If music creation – the lifeblood of Canada's music industry – is  not supported quickly through the development of updated rules, there  could be dire economic and cultural consequences."

While  royalties from digital sources remain too small for most SOCAN members,  revenue from international sources continued to show strength at the historically high mark, and new record of $88.5-million, demonstrating  again that Canadian music creators and publishers continue to outperform on a global level.

The  company also reported that the number of members who earned royalties in 2019 increased by nearly 3,000, as the company continues to attract  songwriters,  composers, and music publishers as members.

The dollar totals that SOCAN provides are estimates, with final figures determined following the March 2020 meeting of SOCAN's Board of Directors and released in concert with SOCAN's annual general meeting in Montréal in June.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.
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