For many years, Canadian composers and songwriters have received payment when their songs are played on the radio. As most Canadian musicians know, these payments come from SOCAN – the organization that represents composers and authors of sound recordings in Canada. However, what most Canadian musicians do not know is that musicians who perform on recordings can also receive a payment when their recording receives radio play!In 1997 the Copyright Act of Canada was amended to acknowledge the involvement of performers and makers in the creation of sound recordings. This right to equitable remuneration is sometimes also called a “neighbouring right”, because it is so similar to the existing copyright that serves to remunerate songwriters and authors.
The funds that we distribute to performers come from tariffs applied to the public broadcast of sound recordings in Canada. We currently have tariffs in place that cover commercial radio, CBC radio, pay audio (television stations streaming music), background music (retail stores, airports etc.) and satellite radio, but expect more in the future.
In addition, we also distribute royalties resulting from the private copying levy. This levy was established in Canada to compensate performers (and other rights holders) when people make personal copies of their works. The media covered under this levy includes: CD’s, tapes and minidisks, but not mp3 players such as iPods. The royalties collected from these tariffs and levies are distributed to performers based on radio playlists and album sales data.
We also have reciprocal agreements with other societies around the world and have distributed royalties from foreign territories to performers in Canada.
Signing up with AFM Canada to collect these royalties is free and you do not have to be an AFM union member to register.
While neighbouring rights and private copying royalties are becoming increasingly popular both in Canada and around the world, there are still many musicians who don’t know that they exist! Please spread the good word to your fellow musicians.