SOCAN held our first live WebEx “Mic Drop” event for our #ComposersWhoScore – who participated from our offices in Los Angeles, Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver – as well as our fifth annual screen composers meeting in Toronto and Vancouver, on May 15, 2019.

The Mic Drop speaker series – created by SOCAN Senior A&R Executive Erica Grayson and A&R Representative Camille Mathews, both of our L.A. office – presented guest speaker Daryl Berg, Vice President, Music Strategies and Licensing, for Crown Media, the parent company of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

Berg, who oversees all music strategy and supervision for Hallmark, spoke in-person with members in the L.A. office, while others joined via WebEx in the Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver SOCAN offices. Grayson and Mathews asked him pre-planned questions, and members from each of our offices were able to undertake a Q&A session with him at the end. Toronto-based SOCAN Chief Membership and Business Development Officer Michael McCarty, and Director, A&R,  Rodney Murphy, and were both present in L.A. for the event.

“I enjoyed [the Mic Drop] more than I expected,” said attending SOCAN screen composer member Jeff Toyne. “It was great to see the other side of the business. We often get caught up the layers of politics and bureaucracy with producers. This really helps.” Another SOCAN member, Gerald O’Brien, said, “Daryl Berg was awesome. So was meeting all the other composers too, a great gathering. These types of events are very helpful.”

Prior to the live-stream from our L.A. office, SOCAN Senior Account Executive, Audio-visual (AV),  Paul Stillo, moderated our fifth annual screen composers meeting in Toronto and Vancouver (connected by WebEx). Stillo conducted an interview-style conversation with Kit Wheeler (Vice-President, Licensing) and Leslie Craig (Vice-President, Distribution) about digital royalties for screen composers.

Members learned, or were reminded, that SOCAN currently licenses 42 digital services in Canada, and that members can conceivably earn from any of these platforms, as long as SOCAN receives the relevant performance data and cue sheets. Internationally, the majority of the top music rights organizations currently have agreements with AV streaming services such as Netflix. As with all other types of performances, these are subject to each society’s respective set of distribution rules, performance thresholds, etc.

We also discussed the fact that SOCAN processes more than 2.78 billion audio-visual online performances, versus only 1.1 million TV/Cable performances, each quarter. Yet we receive only about $19 million in domestic license fees from digital services, compared with more than $100 million from traditional TV. This means that in the digital world, there’s much less money available, and that it’s divided among many more performances;

Attendees heard that when it comes to digital AV earnings, SOCAN composers have received approximately 3 percent, compared to SOCAN publishers, who’ve received closer to 43 percent. This demonstrates that although Canadian programs might be available, a large percentage of subscribers are actually streaming non-Canadian content.

Eclectic Oji-Cree singer, musician, and SOCAN member Anachnid won the second annual Indigenous Songwriter of the Year Award, sponsored by TD and The SOCAN Foundation, and presented at the Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg, on May 17, 2019.

A grateful Anachnid received the award, in the form of a beautiful traditional hand drum, from SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste and James Baxter, Branch manager for TD  Canada Trust in Winnipeg.

Mimi O'Bonsawin

Mimi O’Bonsawin

“When I went to a non-Indigenous high school and composed my first song at 13, and I performed it in front of everyone, no one believed that I wrote it. So I stopped making music for 10 years,” said Anachnid, now 23. “I do suffer from addictions, and self-control [issues], and that’s what the song ‘Windigo’ is about – not letting that take over my spirit. I’m healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually with music.” She also said that the date was the exact same one on which her grandfather passed away six years ago, that his spirit was beside her, and closed with a Marianne Williamson quote, that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Among the other winners were Mimi O’Bonsawin, who earned Best Pop Album for Trillium; Angela Amarualik, who won the Best Inuit, Indigenous Language, or Francophone Album for her eponymous record;  Don Amero, who – after six nominations over the years – finally took home the Best  Country Album honour for Evolution; and Ernest Monias, who enjoyed the Lifetime Achievement Award, for a remarkable career that’s seen him release 18 albums, perform in many different styles of music (including Gospel, country, and rock), and serve as a role model for Indigenous youth across Canada. For a complete list of 2019 nominees and winners, click here. The awards also included powerful performances from Midnight Shine, Angela Amarualik, and Celeigh Cardinal.

The two-day Indigenous Music Conference that preceded the awards gala provided First Nations artists and music entrepreneurs with an opportunity to discuss challenges, share best practices, and connect with music industry professionals to help them develop new skills, tools, and strategies.

Leonard Sumner

Leonard Sumner

Charlie Wall-Andrews, the SOCAN Foundation Executive Director, moderated the afternoon session of the first day, on May 16, where the industry representatives included ShoShonna Kish (of the group Digging Roots, and an arts and music  administrator and facilitator); Sam Baijal (Artistic Director, Hillside Festival); Beth Cavanagh (Publicist, What’s The Story?); and David Chavez ((Festival and Series Curator & Producer, City of Chicago).

With all participants seated in one large circle, and the microphone being passed to anyone wishing to speak, the attendees discussed the best ways to capture programmers’ attention; how building a career in step-by-step increments can be longer-lasting than a viral breakout; the underestimated value of word-of-mouth recommendations; and how crucial it is to build and develop authentic relationships with others in the music business. Explaining how  to best foster those relationships, 2019 JUNO Award nominee (for his album Standing in the Light) Leonard Sumner (who’s toured Australia with A Tribe Called Red, and worked with Jeremy Dutcher) summarized it clearly and concisely, as he said, “Show up; be ready; do a good job; and be nice to people… Work on your show, and make the art good.”

Stay tuned for video interviews from the conference!

SOCAN member composer Derek Holman – also an organist, choirmaster, professor, animal lover, and Member of the Order of Canada – died in Ottawa on May 20, 2019, at the age of 88.

Holman was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002 for his services to music, and received an honourary Doctor of Sacred Letters degree from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He also won two National Choral Awards from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, for Night Music (1988), written for the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, and Sir Christëmas (1990), written for the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus.

His compositions include commissioned works for the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Ontario Choral Federation, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Canadian Brass, and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company (then Chorus). Holman collaborated with iconic Canadian author Robertson Davies on the children’s opera Doctor Canon’s Cure and the oratorio Jezebel. He was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers.

Born in Cornwall, England, in 1931, Holman earned a Doctorate in Music from the University of London and was a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal School of Church Music, and the Royal College of Organists. In England, he held posts in various churches, including the Westminster Abbey Choir School and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Holman moved to Canada in 1965, working as choirmaster at Bishop Strachan School, and organist and choirmaster at Toronto’s Grace Church-on-the-Hill. He began teaching music at the University of Toronto in 1966 and served for almost 30 years in its Faculty of Music, in the Department of Theory and Composition. He directed the Concord Singers of Toronto and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company (then Chorus) and was the organist and choirmaster at Church of St Simon the Apostle. He was an inspiring mentor to countless young people in his church choirs, at the university, and in the chorus of the children’s opera.

Holman is survived by his wife Margaret Holman; children Susan, Nicholas and Judith (and her partner Peter); grandchildren Derek, Michael, and Riley; sister Pearl (and her partner John); and his extended family. SOCAN offers its condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.

A memorial service will be held in Toronto this fall to honour Dr. Holman’s musical legacy. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory to the Toronto Humane Society are welcome.