‘poor is the man… whose pleasure depends… on the permission of another’
Neither the title nor the opening quote of this article are my words, though I reproduce them here. I reproduce them without crediting the authors because they are so original as to be unmistakably unique. A simple Google search reveals the precise source I am tapping. If you recognize them outside their tune, you might be in the music business. If you represent the authors interests, and are not giving me notice of infringement, my misuse is obviously of no consequence to you.
IF IT IS OF SOME CONSEQUENCE TO YOU THAT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IS WIDELY REPRODUCED WITHOUT CREDIT COMPENSATION OR CONSENT, feel free to email a piece of your mind firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have used lyrics for years as sparks to write everything from love letters to business proposals; as a way to beg a deeper understanding of their impact and meaning in my life; how they define a moment and create a space that in my mind is nothing but bliss. Who wouldn’t delve deeper into bliss if they figured out how? To credit the artists who have inspired me and my work, you’d have to be in my head to see every book I’ve read, movie I’ve seen, song I’ve heard, place I’ve visited… you get the picture. The architects of my reality are innumerable, and they run across multiple disciplines, including business. I am grateful to them for sharing their craft so liberally, and inspiring me to craft my own reality
I harbor a lot of emnity towards one such architect of my reality, and have made that bitterly plain in my recent video release ‘Rape Me’, the accompanyinggraphic novella, and my tweets. These works beg an artists statement, lest I appear wanton. Wanton was what I was when I was first made aware of SOCAN. wanting is what I am now. Now I find SOCAN wanting in so many ways that I can’t even utter the words performance rights organization without firmly plugging my tongue into my cheek. If my experience has taught me anything it is that the only person looking after my rights is ME.
I have lobbied SOCAN to recognize [and do something about] the reality ofinternet performance rights since before 2010 when the Copyright Board of Canada issued Tarriff 22 to finally compensate songwriters and music publishers for performances of their work on the internet MANY MANY YEARS AFTER such performances became available and mainstream. SOCAN represents both creators and publishers, though the interests of each of these groups differ greatly. I have lobbied them as a music creator, a music user [licenceee], and a publisher; but never as a member. Until recently, my circumstance wouldn’t allow it; even though I have 10 years of work product in circulation on the web.
For their part, SOCAN have done nothing to earn my membership since the first time we met, by way of one of their Executives fishing for a date online. Though he and I formed an instant personal rapport through our shared professional passion; though I enjoyed this austere friendship over a 10 year period that would see us texting and emailing each other daily sharing every intimate aspect of our lives, exchanging insights and ideas with each other; I never joined SOCAN as a member.
As an element of finishing out my reality series, I am finishing the composition on my first original musical work, and so resign said friendship to resign myself instead to a SOCAN membership. If I want to get paid, I’m told by the self proclaimed ‘Canada’s performing rights society’ that they ‘are the only game in town’. My former friend has a quote about himself on his bio page, that says he would stop showing up for work if he stopped getting paid. Thank god musicians don’t aspire to that work ethic. 75% of SOCANs members are not only still showing up for work without getting paid, they’re still contributing material toSOCANs catalogue without a say. SOCANs membership rules only allow member proposals and voting privilege for revenue earning members. Is it any wonderless than one percent of them participated in their AGM this year to exercise these rights?
SOCAN have been recently making a big deal of acquiring data assets in an effort to ‘singlehandedly revolutionize’ [not my words] the music industry. I’m not sold on spending millions of your members blood sweat and tears money refining data mining process, when the tools and information you need are freely available in the marketplace. In an effort to legitimize itself, SOCAN is reinventing the wheel by storing and handling more ‘data’ [read metadata] about their members compositions in order to track down more revenue sources. If you performed the Google search for the title and opening words of this article, you’ll see how simple and free and easy to identify a piece of music is with just a soupcon of data.
The truth is, the more complicated you make your task appear, the more valuable your services become to an uneducated mass of consumers. I’ve also lobbiedSOCAN on multiple occasions to create educational programs for digital deliveryto raise the level of understanding of their membership and the marketplace. All of these have been dismissed. though it is clear some segments are figuring it out all by themselves. Licencees easily avoid paying SOCANs tariffs ethically by enjoying the multitude of avoidance practices that are perfectly legit. For example, why would anyone pay SOCAN to play music legally and ethically when they could also do so just by tuning into their favorite radio station?
This article about the industry’s war with Youtube highlights the problem even more clearly. Youtube are accused of cloudy accounting, when the streaming numbers are posted live in the cloud. SOCAN is clouding the issue by relying on reporting from outside sources to calculate member royalties, they rely on ‘reporting compliance’. Youtube is not refusing to compensate creators, they are simply refusing to do the work that is the purview of … Performance Rights Organizations. A job SOCAN is a full three quarters behind on disbursements for channels like radio and TV, and are a quarter later on disbursements for Internet performances. This strikes me as ridiculous, when the analytics are LIVE if they care to mine them.
I'm calling him out.