Monthly Archives: March 2014

Fair Trade Music

FairTradeMusic_CST Published 03/20/2014

By Eddie Schwartz

What is Fair Trade Music?
The Fair Trade Music initiative is the joint effort of key music creator organizations, representing more than 25,000 songwriters and composers around the world.

What’s the goal of Fair Trade Music?
Fair Trade Music – much like Fair Trade Coffee – is built on the belief that given an option, consumers will choose to purchase their music from sources where they know music creators are fairly compensated. In order to begin this process, we developed “The Fair Trade Music Principles.” They can be seen here.

What’s the problem?
A good example of what music creators are dealing with can be seen in a typical publishing statement that details a young songwriter’s earnings from Spotify.

This statement shows that a particular song was streamed 162,525 times. Total royalties reported for those streams are $11.46. Since this songwriter receives 50% of those royalties (as does the publisher, a common arrangement), those 162,525 streams represent $5.73 to the songwriter, or $00.000035 per stream. (For many songs, 2 or 3 songwriters might further divide this amount.) So one million streams would pay the songwriter $35.00. One hundred million streams would pay $3,500. One billion streams would pay $35,000.

At the height of the music industry little more than a decade ago, sales in the US of 500,000 records were considered a  rare enough achievement to warrant  a “Gold” record. The much rarer achievement of 1 million sales was awarded with a “Platinum” disc, . which would generate approximately $40,000 for the songwriter(s). To achieve comparable compensation in the digital realm, the work in question would need to be more than 1,000 times more successful than “Platinum.”

What’s the current stage of implementation of Fair Trade Music?

Research is being conducted to define fair compensation for music creators in streaming services.  Then we will set criteria by which music services can be evaluated, and those that meet them will be approved to display a “Fair Trade Music” logo.  That way, consumers will know which services fairly compensate the creators behind the songs.

Who’s on board? 
• European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) – more than 40 member
organizations across Europe
• Music Creators North America (MCNA) –  five North American organizations
representing music creators
• International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM),
• Pan African Composers and Songwriters Alliance (PACSA)
• Alliance of Latin American Creators of Music (ALCAM)

What can songwriters do?

Support the above-mentioned organizations by becoming a member of the Songwriters Association of Canada.

Attention songwriters: speak up for your rights!

SpeakOut_CST Published 03/14/2014

By Anne Richard

Question: What would be the best way to bring ordinary people to understand it’s only right to pay for the music they use?

Answer: Have music creators muster the courage to explain that royalties for the use of music is their livelihood. Period.

For songwriters, this revenue can bridge the gap between two album releases or promotional tours, allowing them the freedom to create new songs. For film and television composers, royalties as their main source of income, if not the only chance they have to invest in their own retirement income.

SOCAN members have much more credibility to defend their rights than SOCAN employees do.

Anybody can understand that artists need to make a living, just like everyone else. They, too, have to eat, pay rent and invest in their careers. Yet, when music creators get together with their fans or with the media, they tend to talk about everything but making money. Why is that? Is it because art is sexier than money? Maybe. Also, fans usually love to hear about how their favourite songs came into being or what happened behind the scenes during a successful tour.

Still, as songwriters, aren’t you concerned not just with your own art and image, but also about the growth of the music industry, and with being fairly compensated for your work? If you are, then every teenager and retailer who uses or consumes music must be told in no uncertain terms that paying for such use is fair remuneration for the people who create the music they enjoy. Nothing else.

On October 30, 1983, at the fifth annual ADISQ Awards, with millions watching the live broadcast, prominent SOCAN member Luc Plamondon made a courageous public plea for music creators’ rights.

Thirty years on, he’s still actively fighting for them. The appetite for public statements seems to be more prevalent in the Quebec arts community, as demonstrated again in 2010, when four busloads of artists drove to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, under the leadership of Plamondon and Robert Charlebois, to denounce the government’s copyright reform bill C-32.

Though they may be helpful, one-time mobilizations are less powerful than daily advocacy by songwriters and composers on behalf of music creators’ rights. They are already in touch with fans through Facebook and Twitter, onstage or in the media. This is where they can best be seen as the face of creators’ rights. Don’t forget – these are your rights.

If SOCAN members talk about SOCAN’s role, then the next time SOCAN reaches out to a new bar, or gets in touch with the owners of a new network or chain of boutiques to arrange for compensating songwriters, composers and music publishers fairly, they might associate us with their favourite artists. Our role would be facilitated, and the first beneficiaries would be our members themselves.

SOCAN in seconds

SOCAN_101_CST Published 03/5/2014

By Andrew Berthoff

What is SOCAN? It’s a question that every SOCAN employee has been asked at least a few times.

Most Canadians have heard of SOCAN, and the name prompts a squinting quizzical look and, “Tell me again what SOCAN does?”

While it’s a simple question, we all know it’s an answer that can easily become complex. But a simple question requires a simple answer.

What better way to explain what SOCAN is all about in the most basic and essential terms than through video? And who better to encapsulate that explanation than smart and savvy younger adults with a love of music and an aspiration for a career in animation and video production?

The SOCAN team had the idea to reach out to the community, so we approached our friends at Sheridan College who put us together with two excellent students who knew little about SOCAN. All the better. That’s what we wanted. A fresh, uncluttered perspective on what we do.

The result is our new “What Is SOCAN?” video. In a handful of seconds, SOCAN’s essential function is explained.

It’s only one explanation of what we are. There are unlimited perspectives and interpretations, and there are myriad more things that we could include. We plan to create more explanatory pieces with the video and animation education community.

This is the first for SOCAN, and we’re proud of the work that Gaby Reiss and Victor Tarapacki did under the guidance of Elaine Brodie and the SOCAN Communications & Marketing team.

We hope that you like it, and, next time you’re asked, “What is SOCAN?” at a professional event, a party or a family gathering, you can simply pull out your phone and show them our video.