SOCAN was formed in 1990, but its predecessors have been around in some form or another in Canada since 1925. SOCAN was created as a result of the merger of two former Canadian performing rights societies: The Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada (CAPAC) and the Performing Rights Organization of Canada (PROCAN).
In 1925, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) of the United Kingdom formed the Canadian Performing Rights Society (CPRS). The CPRS flourished and expanded during the depression, but after losing a major test case, ASCAP was brought in to help reform it. Parliament established a Copyright Appeal Board, which determined the fees chargeable by a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). In 1945, CPRS changed its name to CAPAC and became independent of both ASCAP and the PRS. Over the years, CAPAC worked to protect the rights of its members, especially in the face of opposition from the well-established radio and television industries.
PROCAN, originally called BMI Canada Ltd., was formed by Broadcast Music Inc. of the U.S. in 1940 to license its repertoire in Canada. In 1947, BMI began actively working for Canadian composers, lyricists, songwriters and music publishers. In 1976, BMI Canada became a not-for-profit PRO and in 1977, changed its name to PROCAN to reflect the changed nature of the organization.
In 1990, the duplication of operations was eliminated when CAPAC and PROCAN merged to form SOCAN. The ’90s saw Canadian artists moving to the forefront of the world music scene. SOCAN members such as Jann Arden, Roch Voisine, Lara Fabian, Our Lady Peace, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan achieved worldwide acclaim and success. This trend has continued well into the new millenium, as members like Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, K'NAAN, Simple Plan, Nelly Furtado, Three Days Grace, Beast, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé and Billy Talent have done the same.
At the same time, Canadian film production companies, such as Nelvana and Atlantis (now Alliance-Atlantis), have been on the creative cutting edge, using music in almost all productions. The ’90s also saw battles over cable rights as well as the decline of state-owned broadcasters worldwide. In the last decade, the public has changed the way it views music creators and has also become more aware of the implications of copyright. The widespread use of computers and the growth of the Internet has made intellectual property and copyright common terms.
SOCAN continues to fight for the rights of music creators and publishers. We lobby the Canadian government to regulate the Internet in the same way every other means of distribution and broadcast is regulated. We are establishing a leadership role for the future with our members, with our licensees and with society. Most of all, SOCAN is a member-based organization, existing for and working on behalf of our members and licensees.