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SOCAN Releases 2020 Financial Results; Overall Revenue Down 4% During Pandemic But Digital Revenue Up 20%

SOCAN today announced its 2020 financial results, which show that it distributed more than $348-million in royalties to its 175,000 members. The company is also reporting a 20% increase in revenues from digital sources alone, and on-time quarterly distributions of royalties to the SOCAN's member music creators, music publishers, and visual artists.

Because of the challenges of the pandemic, SOCAN saw a modest overall revenue decline of only 4% primarily as a result of 10 months without in-person concert revenue and the use of licensed recorded music in public. The decline in those sources was largely offset by increased collections from digital and international sources.

The company reduced gross expenses by 4% over the prior year as a result of continued operational improvements through more efficient and cost-effective approaches at every level, it says.

Highlights of SOCAN's 2020 results:

  • More than $348-million distributed to music creators, publishers, and visual artists – a 10% year-over-year increase.
  • $391-million in total revenues – a 4% decrease from 2019, considerably less than many other major music rights collectives worldwide.
  • A 10.5% year-over-year increase in international royalties for an all-time high of $100-million going to SOCAN members.
  • Collections from digital sources to a record $104-million for music created and published by SOCAN members, an average annual growth rate of 32%.
  • More than $11-million collected for reproduction rights on behalf of the company's expanding family of clients, most of whom work with SOCAN to administer both the performing and the reproduction right.

"Supporting our members in a year of challenges meant adjusting swiftly and effectively to challenging circumstances," says CEO Jennifer Brown. "Reducing our operating costs and getting funds to struggling music creators as quickly and thoroughly as possible was paramount. We steadily worked to lessen the pandemic's impact on members – particularly those who rely on income from in-person concerts and touring – offering various financial initiatives. The resiliency and passion of our members, our employees, and the industry kept us moving forward through the unexpected, unprecedented circumstances of 2020."

In 2020, SOCAN continued to sharpen its focus on its members, providing various financial support and new programming to help them weather the pandemic, including an enhanced emergency advance program, the Encore payment program for qualifying live performances on Facebook and Instagram, and a new permanent distribution rule for online concerts.

SOCAN continues to execute on the comprehensive financial recovery plan related to the losses of the wholly owned subsidiary, Dataclef. These losses did not impact distributions. As anticipated in 2020, SOCAN incurred an impairment of $28-million to the advances made by SOCAN to fund the subsidiary operations since 2016.

"Music has helped us through the pandemic, and music is helping us out of it," Brown adds. "The invaluable power of music to sustain and rejuvenate us has never been realized more than over the last 16 months."

SOCAN also added more than 7,500 new members in 2020, one of the largest years of membership growth in the organization's history.

The company's 2020 results, activities of 2021, and plans were discussed at SOCAN's online annual general meeting for qualified members on July 13th.

For an overview of SOCAN's 2020 activities and financials, go to www.socanannualreport.ca.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast. www.canadianmusicianpodcast.com.
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