Q&A with ACTRA’s Recording Artists’ Collecting Society

MB: What is the main roll of ACTRA RACS?

A:  RACS is a division of ACTRA that collects and distributes equitable remuneration (aka neighbouring rights payments) to recording artists.  For many years Canadian composers and authors have received royalties from the broadcast or public performance of their songs. These royalties are collected by SOCAN. In 1997 the Copyright Act of Canada was amended to acknowledge the essential contribution of artists and record companies in the creation of recorded music and to add a right to equitable remuneration for artists and record companies, which is in line with similar rights in the rest of the world. At RACS it’s our responsibility to put these monies into the hands of artists.

MB: Why is it important for artists to know about your company and how can they benefit by registering?

A: As the music industry continues to change and existing revenue streams continue to decline, artists are becoming more reliant on varied sources of revenue than ever before.    Since performance royalties are a vital and growing part of this income mix, it’s important for artists to understand where and how they can collect their share.  Our role at RACS is to pay the performers that perform on a sound recording that receives airplay. We believe that these monies help an artist’s long-term success by allowing them to focus more on their craft and less on looking for a part-time job.

By registering with RACS, an artist is not only connected to this revenue source, but also to an organization works on behalf of thousands of performers.  In an effort to provide more to the artists we work with, we’ve recently rolled out some great insurance (health, dental, gear etc.) options.  Check out the Arts & Entertainment Plan for more info.

MB: How do artists register their works with ACTRA RACS and how much does it cost?

A: It’s free to register with RACS, although we do take a small admin fee off each payment.  You can register as a performer either by visiting our website and completing our online registration form or by downloading our forms and completing them by hand.  In addition, a recording artist that registers with us may also wish to send us a list of recordings that they performed on.  This can be done by completing our repertoire form, although many artists also submit repertoire to us by email, excel sheet, label copy, liner notes etc.  It may also be beneficial to contact us and see if what might already been in our system.

MB: Does ACTRARACS represent Canadian artists only?

A:  RACS represents artists from all over the world.  In addition, we also collect and distribute monies from different countries around the world.  This means that if you’re getting airplay in the UK or Japan, we’ve got you covered.  For a full list of the countries we collect from, check out the international section of our website.

MB: How does RACS distribute these royalties?

RACS distributes 80% of the monies to the featured performer(s) on a recording and 20% of the monies to the non-featured performer(s).  For large ensembles creating classical or jazz recordings, slightly different splits are applied.  A featured performer is generally credited as the main artist, featured guest or member of the featured band on a recording.  A non-featured performer is any performer on a recording that is not a featured performer, but is usually a session musician or backing vocalists.  Many artists registered with RACS collect both as featured artists on their own recordings, but also non-featured performers on additional recordings that they may have performed.

MB: If you have a “team” i.e. label, publisher, manager who’s responsibility is it to register your works on your behalf with ACTRA RACS?  

A:  Good question.  I think this really depends on the scope of the agreement you have with your manager.  In a team setting, we often see the manager (or someone working with the manager) register works on the artists’ behalf, however artists also tend do so on their own.  It’s rare that a publisher is involved in this process as they deal mainly with song writing, but it has happened in the past.  We generally look to the artist for direction on who they’d like us to work with, but it’s definitely useful for the artists to be aware of the process.  They’ll be registered with RACS for the duration of their career, but will likely change managers over that time.

MB: Any personal advice for up and coming Canadian artists today?

A:  I think it’s always helpful to register with the organizations that will look after your rights and hopefully send you monies. These organizations include: SOCAN (songwriter), CMRRA (publisher), ACTRA RACS (performer), AVLA (maker/record label/owner). Once your career starts to take off, it can be more difficult to find the time, so it’s great a great thing to get done early.  Each organization can also be a great resource if you’re trying to get some insight into the industry when you’re just starting out.  At RACS, we’re happy to answer any questions you have about what we do and point you in the right direction for anything that we don’t.

Otherwise, the best personal advice that I have is to never underestimate the value of quality earplugs!

A big thanks to Andrew Karis of ACTRA for his time with this Q&A.

For more information visit: http://www.actra.ca/racs


Posted in: Artist Advice, Artist Consulting.