Former New York mayor, the late Ed Koch, used to ask every New Yorker on the street, “How am I doing?”  In our heart of hearts, most of us probably feel like we’re doing pretty well when we’re trying our best, but those around us may have a different perspective. With this in mind, and in the spirit of striving to work within “best practices” in corporate culture, as well as a degree of self-improvement, and ultimately creating a more effective organization, SOCAN has a rigorous review and evaluation process, not only for staff members by their managers, but for the directors of the board and the CEO.

The SOCAN board, along with Peter Stephenson of Meridien Consulting, perform annual evaluations to assess the effectiveness of the board of directors as a whole.  Each board member anonymously completes a specifically designed questionnaire, and upon a compilation of the results, the Executive Governance Committee (EGC), and then the entire board, review these results with an eye towards making improvements wherever they may be indicated.

Our CEO, like all SOCAN employees, must achieve certain targets within the year that affect salary and bonuses.

Further, in the last few years, the board has also undergone peer assessment reviews, where board and committee members that work alongside each other have the ability to anonymously rate and make comments about their colleagues’ performance on the board. In the past, these results were only seen by that director, however, for this year, in order to give the exercise a bit more “teeth,” the individual results are also shared with the president of the board. This way, the president and the individual director can discuss either a job well done or any areas for improvement, to the ultimate end of personal growth and the ability to become a better and more effective director, with the end result of creating a better and more cohesive board.

Another role of the board of directors is to evaluate the role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  In fact, within our governance structure, the CEO is the only employee that reports directly to the board, while all other employees report to the CEO or their departmental managers.  The board, along with Peter Stephenson and Vice President of Human Resources Randy Wark, design a series of questions and areas for open-ended comment regarding the annual performance of the CEO, who like all SOCAN employees must achieve certain targets within the year that affect salary and bonuses.

Again, in keeping with best practices, new for this year, we have adopted a 360-degree approach to this evaluation process, by including assessment and evaluations from the executives that report to the CEO, in addition to the board members.  This allows for a more holistic view of the CEO’s performance and helps give the board greater insight into the CEO’s effectiveness.

Ultimately, the SOCAN board, staff and management continue to strive to make SOCAN the world’s leading performing rights organization, and these are the kinds of things we’re doing to find out how we’re doing in achieving that goal.

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.

SOCAN fights for the legal and ethical use of music, and actually advocates for new digital music models. We believe that our track record is clear in this regard, but people should not forget that obtaining a SOCAN license is not the only step that is necessary for a new digital service to launch in Canada.

Of course, SOCAN fights for the rights of those who create music. But we also work with digital music providers to ensure that music creators are fairly compensated for their hard work and extraordinary talent. SOCAN works tirelessly  to reconcile sustainable digital music models – whose existence ultimately benefits our members – with fair royalty payments for music creators, without whom these models would have no music to provide to their listeners.

SOCAN considers organizations that use music, including digital music providers, as partners. They’re our customers, and they’re an essential bridge between our members and their listeners. We want businesses licensed to play music to empower and please their music listeners – consumers of music, their customers – who are now creating their own music experiences via playlists, streaming choices, downloading, making soundtracks to homemade YouTube videos, and so on. What we desire is to give listeners access to all of the music they want to hear – anytime, anywhere, on any device – in return for fair compensation to the creators of that music. That’s what we mean by “Music.People.Connected.”, the line that appears under our logo.

We work with digital music providers to ensure that music creators are fairly compensated.

Simply put: we strive for what’s fair for everyone: music businesses, listeners and creators.

And music creators – songwriters, composers, and lyricists – are hugely valuable to our country. They foster economic growth; establish social values; promote Canada’s influence worldwide; work in a field that is digital, environmentally friendly, and job-intensive; and preserve and foster employment.

Music creators’ activities directly and indirectly add billions of dollars to the Canadian economy each year; provide jobs to Canadians throughout the music industry ecosystem, with a ripple effect throughout the broader economy; reduce Canadian dependency on imported entertainment; and support and nurture personalities that are worldwide icons of Canadian creativity and flair. Individuals and businesses that create music also contribute to Canada’s priceless “cultural capital.”

In view of these contributions, music creators – just like all working professionals – deserve fair compensation. The performance royalties that SOCAN identifies and distributes are a significant part of their livelihood.

With production budgets for music recording and movie scores getting lower and lower, performance royalties have become an ever-more-important revenue stream for all songwriters and composers. For behind-the-scenes songwriters who don’t perform their own material, it’s often their primary source of income. For independent, non-performing music creators, there’s no minimum wage, no salary, no employee benefits. They usually don’t make a dime until someone actually licenses or listens to a public performance of the music that they worked hard to create.

Music creators add value to our lives and growth to the economy. Ultimately, the music that they create is the source of great musical experiences that enrich the lives of listeners and enhance business, both in Canada and throughout the world. SOCAN is pleased, proud and honoured to be fighting for their rights.