Business News Deals Labels & Publishers

Canadian performing rights organisation acquires mechanical rights society 

By | Published on Wednesday 1 August 2018


Two Canadian collecting societies are coming together as one, as performing rights society SOCAN yesterday announced its acquisition of mechanical rights society SODRAC. The former said that the deal “broadens the choices available, notably for music publishers and self published writers, for the licensing of the reproduction right”.

As in many Anglo-American markets, in Canada the licensing of the so called performing rights and mechanical rights in songs have traditionally been managed separately. There are actually two Canadian societies that represent mechanical rights, namely CMRAA and SODRAC. The former skews towards the country’s Anglo-American repertoire, while the latter’s focus has traditionally been on Francophone repertoire.

SOCAN announced that it was in “active and positive merger discussions” with SODRAC last year, around about the same time American collecting society SoundExchange – which is focused on recording rights – acquired CMRAA. Those active and positive discussions between SOCAN and SODRAC have been ongoing ever since, resulting in the active and positive announcement yesterday that the merger was going ahead.

That announcement bragged that: “For the first time in Canada, a single organisation – SOCAN – will be able to license, track and distribute all royalties for both music performing rights and mechanical rights. A transition period will result in the full integration of the organisations. Efficiencies in overhead expenses and operations will be sought and ultimately passed along for the benefit of members”.

Confirming the new deal, SOCAN boss man Eric Baptiste said: “SOCAN is THRILLED to complete a made-in-Canada solution for music rights holders in this country and worldwide. This transaction fits perfectly with SOCAN’s goal of leading the global transformation of music rights, and SOCAN’s past and ongoing commitment to create alliances within the Canadian music ecosystem”.

He went on: “With the full integration of SODRAC’s assets and expansion into mechanical rights, the combination of public performance and reproduction rights increases efficiencies, leverages licensing relationships, and reduces operating costs, resulting in even more music royalties going to those who have earned them”.

Speaking for its side of the deal, Lise Aubut, co-founder and Chair of SODRAC, added: “The integration of SODRAC into SOCAN is the result of many years of discussions and negotiations. Today, this concentration of energy and resources has become essential in a context where markets are globalised, copyright media is dematerialised, and the financial means necessary to defend rights in a digital world are prodigious. Music is borderless, and tracking musical works requires cutting-edge technology that provides services to a large number of music rights-holders and users”.

Responding to the news, the aforementioned CMRAA bragged about its own alliance with SoundExchange, reckoning this was a better solution for its members than past suggestions that all three Canadian societies – SOCAN, SODRAC and CMRAA – should ally in some way.

It said in a statement: “SOCAN and SODRAC are looking to adapt to today’s rapidly evolving music industry and it’s understandable that, as two Canadian-based author societies, they have finally come together. CMRRA itself responded to this changing landscape by forming its own strategic partnership with SoundExchange just over a year ago”.

It went on: “Under the ownership of the newly created SXWorks, CMRRA benefits from the direction of an independent publisher committee that oversees key decisions on the management of publisher rights regarding advocacy, tariffs and licensing. This offers CMRRA’s music publisher affiliates a robust governance structure that was not achievable under the previously proposed alliance between CMRRA, SOCAN and SODRAC”.