Part 2 of 2 Q&A with Terry O’Brien of SOCAN; when and how to register, royalties and more!

MB: When should an artist or songwriter register their work with SOCAN?

SOCAN does not represent “artists” (recording artists, performers/entertainers). Our members are composers, songwriters and music publishers – some of which may also be recording artists and performers – but not in every instance. In any case, we don’t represent them in that capacity.

Songwriters members MUST register their music with SOCAN (via their online account page) in order to receive royalties. This is the very first, and perhaps most important step for earning royalties with SOCAN

Music should be registered when the final version, which is being commercially released, is completed – all creators have been allotted their respective share and everyone is in agreement as to the share split. Shares in a copyright should reflect creation.

Derivative versions such as remixes (if there are additional shareholders) and/or versions with differing durations (i.e. the extended live version) should be registered separately with an alternate or modified title.

Each writer member has their own account page which is accessible via SOCAN’s website, or via our mobile app, once they have set up their login name and password.

If a song has multiple SOCAN writers then only one writer needs to register it on behalf of the other co-writers and the shares will be allotted to each co-writer. The writers themselves should decide who will take on this responsibility – unless the writers have a publisher.

If a songwriter has a publisher, then the publisher will generally register the songs with SOCAN, according to the writer & share split information that the songwriter(s) have submitted to their publisher (or publishers).

If a co-writer is a member of another PRO, then information regarding each writer’s PRO and preferably their IPI number* too, should be exchanged between each of the writers at the end of a writing session.  When a writer or publisher joins a PRO, they are assigned an IPI number for their legal name and any professional names they may use. SOCAN members can find their IPI number in their online account page – profile section.

* Interested Parties Information number – for more info go to;

Also, if any song contains a sample, then the sample must be cleared before registering. Usually there are two rights to clear, the publishing rights in the musical work(s) and the master rights in the sound recording(s).

MB: How long does it take for royalties to be collected and distributed? How long will it take until a band will see some money?

SOCAN distributes royalties quarterly on Feb.15th, May15th, Aug.15th and Nov.15th.

Royalties for domestic performances in Canada are usually distributed in nine months, a year for US performances and eighteen months from international, however there can be mitigating circumstances.

Timely distribution depends on;

1) re: TV – when cue sheets are submitted and processed

2) re: live – when all the completed Notification of Live Music Performance (NLMP) forms are submitted and processed,  and when the licensing fees are collected from the venue and/or promoter – this sometimes can be quite a while after the event in some cases.

3) re: radio – depends on the logging method of the radio stations (census or random sample methods) – in a given country – and when those are processed and distributed to SOCAN.

NOTE: International royalties are paid by the PRO in a given territory, according to their distribution rules. They pay SOCAN, and we distribute to our members.

We urge members to sign up for direct deposit for royalty payments. We pay on any amount over 25 cents.  If one chooses to be paid by cheque then the minimum payment threshold is $500. We also urge members to choose online statements – one of the benefits is a two week statement preview prior to each distribution as well as access to more detailed info about their domestic earnings.

MB: How can bands register their set-list for live music performance royalties?

NLMP forms and instruction can be found in the secure section of the SOCAN website (see top navigation bar under SOCAN forms).  They can be printed, completed and mailed in or submitted online. Please call the SOCAN info centre for assistance at 1 866 307-6226 or email:

MB: Are there any important points you want to mention in terms of the work you do and advice for up and coming bands/artists?

Call or email SOCAN if you have any questions. We’re always here to help.

If you perform your music live, submit your Notification of Live Music Performance (NLMP) forms regularly.

Learn the fundamentals of the music business and do your research.

Do not sign a contract that you don’t understand and always have contracts reviewed by an entertainment lawyer.

Read part 1 of the article here: 

Thanks so much Terry for your time assistance with this SOCAN Q&A – Hope you all enjoyed!


Posted in: Artist Advice, Artist Consulting, Indie Music Tips, Music Consulting.