By Stan Meissner
While 2013 may seem like a distant memory now that we’re into summer, this is the time of year we look back at our annual results and achievements. Throughout last year, SOCAN has been striving not only to reinvent itself, but to actually reinvent what a performing rights organization (PRO) can and should be. With many bold initiatives, SOCAN’s board and staff have been actively working to “raise the bar” for performing rights in Canada and set an example for PROs around the world.
It’s very clear that YouTube is one of the most widely used outlets for online music and, over the last year, SOCAN’s management team and board have been actively investigating, negotiating and initiating new ways for members to earn royalties in this evolving landscape. In addition to directly collecting YouTube license fees (under tariff 22D) and distributing YouTube royalties for the first time in November 2013, SOCAN initiated its collaboration with Audiam, a company that aggregates and further monetizes music uses on YouTube to facilitate an additional royalty stream. SOCAN made the first distribution on behalf of Audiam also in November 2013, and early predictions show that this source of revenue is growing exponentially.
In an effort to operate more efficiently, SOCAN underwent a thorough review of staffing needs and was able to reduce headcount by 13.5 percent, significantly lowering annual expenses, while maintaining and even improving high levels of service and performance. Many of these reductions were realized in the restructuring of the licensing department by outsourcing smaller general licensing accounts.
Further, due to retirements in certain key positions, SOCAN was able to add some new faces on its executive team, such as Michael McCarty – a former member of the Board of Directors – to the position of Chief Membership Officer. Michael’s enthusiasm, keen view of the needs of members and ability to energize the Membership Department was instantly apparent. As a result of Michael’s hiring, his vacant seat on our board was filled, by Neville Quinlan of peermusic, according to the 2012 election results, as required by SOCAN’s bylaws.
Even though SOCAN elections aren’t coming until next spring, we must be doing something right, because recently, SOCAN management has again seen fit to hire from within our board with the addition of Geneviève Côté to the role of Chief Québec Affairs Officer. Replacing Geneviève on the board, also according to our 2012 election results, is Patrick Curley from Third Side Music.
All in all, SOCAN’s success in 2013 was a direct result of forward thinking and reinventing the way we do business to make us more proactive, efficient, adaptable and prepared to face what lies ahead in the constantly changing music industry landscape. We’re confident that the path we’re on will continue to benefit our membership tremendously, as we continue to reinvent SOCAN and the definition of a PRO.