A SOCAN license gives businesses the freedom and flexibility to use virtually any music they want in their business or at their public event - legally, ethically, and easily. Without SOCAN, businesses that use music would have to get permission and negotiate a royalty with every songwriter, lyricist, and music publisher whose work they intend to play (publicly perform) – a feat that most of us have neither the time nor the means to achieve. Instead, SOCAN makes this process simple by allowing music users to pay a relatively small fee, often once a year, which is distributed to music creators in Canada and around the world through our reciprocal agreements with similar societies. The fees are distributed to our Members who are composers, authors, and publishers of music, according to distribution rules approved by our Board of Directors.
By becoming Licensed To Play music, businesses comply with the law, ensuring that the creators of that music are fairly compensated and continue to create the music that enriches your business. By law, permission to publicly perform music in business is not automatically granted when you purchase CDs, mp3s, subscribe to online music services, stream music, etc. – doing this only allows you to use the music for private (non-commercial) purposes. Similarly, when you hire musicians to play music in your establishment or at a public event, the fees paid to them are for their performance, not to compensate the authors and publishers of the songs they perform.
Even when performers play their own songs, they're entitled to separate compensation for those different efforts. Performing music and creating music are two separate types of creative work, and each deserves fair compensation, even in cases where the performers are also the creators of the works. A SOCAN license grants the recipient permission to use music in a specific way.
Businesses may need more than one license, depending on how they use music (i.e., one for background music, one for music on hold, etc.). SOCAN tariffs and the associated fees take into consideration the value of music to a particular business. If music is integral to your operation (i.e., dance club, concert venue), then it's worth more to your business. The rates set by the Copyright Board of Canada reflect this value. Through agreements with international performing rights organizations, SOCAN issues licenses for all music used in public by businesses in Canada, no matter to which society the creators belong. SOCAN then transfers the corresponding monies to the appropriate society.
The Copyright Board of Canada is an independent body appointed by the government. Each year SOCAN files proposed tariffs with the Copyright Board. Interested parties are then permitted to submit objections to SOCAN's proposals within a limited period. If an objection or concern is raised concerning a particular tariff, the Copyright Board may hold a hearing. After hearings are completed and any amendments are made, the Copyright Board publishes the approved tariffs in the Canada Gazette.
The performing right that SOCAN administers on behalf of creators of musical works and their publishers is a right granted under Canada's Copyright Act. SOCAN operates in accordance with tariffs set and certified by the Copyright Board of Canada. There are now more than 50 different tariffs that correspond to different ways you can use music.
SOCAN member Shawn Mendes’ first hit single “Stitches” reached the Top 10 in the U.S. and Canada, and No. 1 in the U.K. His albums Handwritten and Illuminate both debuted atop the U.S. Billboard 200. In only a few years, the 20-year-old pop star has already opened a tour for Taylor Swift and headlined at Madison Square Gardens. He earned a SOCAN Breakout Award in 2015 and Pop/Rock Award in 2016, and the Allan Slaight Honour from Canada's Walk of Fame. After 10 JUNO Award nominations, in 2017 Mendes finally won the Fan Choice Award. A few days later, he joined his hero John Mayer onstage.