FAQ - Membership

What does SOCAN do?
SOCAN is a performing rights society that licenses the public performance and communication of the world’s repertoire of copyright-protected musical works in Canada and then distributes royalties to its members and affiliated international societies.

Are there functions SOCAN doesn’t perform that I should know about?
SOCAN cannot act as an agent for our members in pursuing copyright claims or act on their behalf in lawsuits with publishers or with distributors. Nor can SOCAN affect your deals with publishers, promoters, or movie production companies. We don’t publish music and we don't register your copyright.

Does SOCAN work for profit or not-for-profit?
SOCAN retains no earnings. All royalties it collects – less its operating costs are passed on to its members and affiliated societies.

How many people work for SOCAN?
Across Canada, over 290 people work for SOCAN.

How many Canadians have joined SOCAN?
There are more than 135,000 members of SOCAN.

Is SOCAN a government agency?
No, but we are recognized by the Canadian government as the copyright collective for performing rights of musical works. SOCAN is a membership organization governed by music creators and publishers. The rights assigned to SOCAN by its members are provided for in Canada’s Copyright Act.

Where does SOCAN get its funding?
SOCAN is funded through the licence fees collected from businesses that use music in Canada. Revenues are also received from SOCAN’s international peers for the use of its members’ works around the world. As a not-for-profit organization, SOCAN put 86 cents of every dollar it collected in 2010 through licence fees into the pockets of music creators and publishers; the rest was used to run the organization, as approved by its Board of Directors.

What does a music publisher do?
The music publisher is the business partner in a musical composition. A good music publisher has the knowledge and contacts to promote a composition. Typically a publisher enters into a songwriter/publisher agreement with the songwriter, whereby the songwriter assigns ownership and control of the copyright-protected musical works to the publisher in exchange for a percentage of the income derived from the exploitation of the musical works. A reputable publisher never charges a fee for his/her service.

Should I start my own publishing company?
SOCAN does not require that you be established as a publisher in order for you to collect all of the royalties payable on the musical works you have created.  If a work has not been assigned to a publisher, we pay 100 per cent of the royalties to the writer(s).  If the work has been assigned to a publisher, the total is divided between the writer(s) and the publisher(s).  However, if you wish to join SOCAN as a publisher, you must first meet the requirements for membership. The following criteria determine your eligibility:

A music publisher has signed contracts showing he/she has been assigned rights to either:

  • five or more copyright musical works written or co-written by a SOCAN member or by a Canadian who is a member of another performing rights society, or
  • one or more musical work(s) written or co-written by a SOCAN member or by a Canadian who is a member of another performing rights society, featured on a commercial recording, or
  • one or more musical work(s) written or co-written by a SOCAN member or by a Canadian who is a member of another performing rights society, included in a film or television cue sheet.

Please note that there is also a one time application fee of $50.00 plus applicable taxes for music publishers to join SOCAN.

Is membership permanent?
Your membership will be renewed every two years automatically, unless you notify us in accordance with your agreement in writing that you wish to terminate your SOCAN membership.

How much does it cost to become a member of SOCAN?
For music creators, membership is free when applying online. For music publishers, there is a one-time membership fee of $50 (plus applicable taxes).