A deep respect for authors and composers
Words + Music has asked board members writing the Directors’ Corner column to focus on their professional experience creating music, while providing fellow SOCAN members with useful career advice. Here’s what Carol Ryan has to say:
You guessed it — I am one of only two women on the SOCAN board of directors. I have been a proud director for almost 10 years now, and this is my first time writing in our magazine. I want to take this opportunity to tell you how I got here: I was originally planning to become a translator, but after cramming for (and barely passing) X number of courses on the stylistic comparison of French and English, I started seriously questioning my career choice!
Around the same time, a woman I used to work for asked me to join her at Poly- Gram. Working for a record company? Wow! I grew up in a household where we listened every day to the operettas and musicals that my mother loved, and sat in front of the TV every night watching American variety shows. Music already was a major part of my life, so I was fascinated with the thought of working in that business. And my journey began during the golden age of disco, to boot!
A while later, I was offered a job at PROCAN. I only had vague notions of copyright at the time, but I was curious about creators and what makes them tick. I stayed with PROCAN for many years, including those of the merger that produced SOCAN. My basic copyright expertise came from Denise Meloche, an exceedingly generous woman who was manager of the Montreal office at the time. The most precious gift she gave me was a deep respect for authors and composers.
After a stint with an independent label as production manager, I was appointed head of Cirque du Soleil’s music publishing arm. What a wonderful thing it is to work with an organization whose values are squarely focused on creativity! My previously acquired abilities stood me in good stead, and I was able to develop my copyright management skills. I honed my business acumen as a music publisher working in an environment that put me in regular contact with music industry professionals from all over the world. But what really nurtures and stimulates me is my constant involvement with creators and the creative process.
My daily experience of the tensions between art and business enriches my contributions to the SOCAN board, where finding a balance between these two opposite worlds is at the heart of all our discussions. Flexibility and openness are two of a music publisher’s most essential attributes, now more than ever before. The only thing that never changes is change itself, and one must be able to identify opportunities, be creative and think outside the box. After all, isn’t music up in a “cloud” these days?
The depth of experience and variety of skills that are represented around the SOCAN boardroom table are astounding, and I’m proud to be part of it. The hard work of the SOCAN management and employees has made our organization an international leader and a respected advocate of the Canadian cultural community.