Canadian performing rights organization SOCAN has announced its final financial results for 2018, confirming another record year for royalties earned by its more than 160,000 member songwriters, composers, music publishers, and visual artists.
The largest organization in the Canadian music ecosystem attracted and distributed record amounts to more members than ever but cautioned that more must be done to ensure that all rightsholders receive a more equitable share of rapidly growing revenues from digital uses of music.
Significant SOCAN results achieved in 2018 include:
- A record $320 million distributed to SOCAN members – an 8% increase over the previous year.
- $375-million in total collections – an 11% increase compared with 2017.
- Domestic collections at an all-time high of $286 million – 9% more than 2017.
- A 15% year-over-year increase in royalties from outside of Canada ($87 million), again the top revenue stream for SOCAN members.
- Even with a substantially more complex environment and investments in technology to keep SOCAN ahead of the digital curve, SOCAN says it was able to operate with a 12.6% net expense ratio.
- A 29% increase in revenue from digital sources ($63 million).
"The popularity of music streaming continues to increase, but a SOCAN member who received royalties in 2018 on average took in only $54 from digital sources," says SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. "Digital platforms are reaping massive value on the backs of music creators and publishers. SOCAN will continue to fight for a more equitable and fair compensation for rightsholders as this part of the industry matures."
Among many topics discussed at SOCAN's AGM in Vancouver, Baptiste highlighted several key recent advancements for the company's members, including the full acquisition of Quebec-based SODRAC, bringing mechanical/reproduction rights and royalties to members, as well as the extension of SOCAN's mandate into visual arts; the creation of Entandem, a combined licensing venture with RE:SOUND that will bring benefits to rightsholders and licensed businesses alike; and the addition of Dataclef, the back office services arm of the organization.
SOCAN continues to work to harness artificial intelligence and to offer tools to third-party organizations to build software from its online application programming interface (API) specifications to identify and collect on more public uses of music, returning more royalties with greater speed and accuracy to those who have earned them.
Also reviewed at the meeting were SOCAN's member advocacy accomplishments with the federal government. Several recommendations were included in the recent Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage "Shifting Paradigms" report, including:
- Extending the term of copyright protection to the creator's lifetime plus 70 years.
- Regulation and clarification of the "charitable exemption" clause for businesses using music.
- Updating the private copying regime to be technologically neutral.
- Remuneration for visual artists when their copyright works are re-sold.
- A more level playing field for rightsholders across all platforms.
SOCAN's 2018 annual report and complete financial statement are available at www.socanannualreport.ca.