SOCAN Music License

Socan Logo


When you rent a hall or hotel ballroom for your wedding ceremony or reception or any party where either live or recorded music will be "performed" you are required to obtain a SOCAN Music License for your band or disc jockey. SOCAN or the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada is Canada's national "performing" rights authority. Its role is to license the public performance of music in return for performing rights fees. It then distributes these fees as royalties to composers, lyricists, songwriters and music publishers, based on the performances of their musical works in Canada.

SOCAN is non-profit Canadian corporation owned and operated by music copyright owners – composers, lyricists, songwriters and their publishers – on behalf of the world's copyright owners.

Why do I need a SOCAN License?

The Copyright Act of Canada requires that the users of music obtain a SOCAN license to perform or authorize others to perform copyright music in public. When you rent a facility for the purpose of a party, reception, dance or any function where music will be performed as part of your function, you are considered the "person authorizing the performance" and therefore responsible for the licensing of the performance.

What kind of performances require payment?

Performances of music in public, whether in restaurants, clubs, hotels, banquet halls, dance halls, offices, and stores all require payment of a license fee This includes all social functions such as Weddings, parties, Bar Mitzvahs, anniversaries and corporate events. Copies of the tariff(s) relating to your particular use of music at any premise may be obtained on request from any SOCAN office. Furthermore, whether the music is performed by live or recorded means, a license is required.

What determines the cost of SOCAN License?

The cost of a SOCAN License depends upon the particular "use" of music and the type of establishment being licensed. There are several different tariffs that apply to a variety of venues and kinds of performances and you may require to be licensed under more than one if you are venue. They included:

  • Radio & Television stations
  • Live entertainment in bars, clubs, hotels etc.
  • Concerts
  • Exhibitions and fairs
  • Cinemas
  • Skating rinks
  • Receptions, conventions, dances, fashion shows.
  • Sports events
  • Parades and recorded music in public parks and squares.
  • Circuses, ice shows, comedy shows, magic shows
  • Fireworks displays
  • Theme parks
  • Public conveyances such as planes, boats, train and bus.
  • Background music and background music suppliers including
    "on-hold" music over the telephone.
  • Transmitter's of non-broadcast services
  • Recorded music for dancing in clubs, bars, hotels etc.
  • Fitness activities.

How are SOCAN License fees set?

SOCAN's license fees are set annually by the Copyright Board, an independent, federally appointed administrative tribunal. After notice of the tariffs has been published in the Canada Gazette, music users may file their objections with the Copyright Board. The Board considers these objections and, if necessary, holds public hearings to decide the appropriate tariffs. Approved tariffs are then published in the Canadian Gazette.

Where do License fees go?

The license fees collected are distributed to composers, lyricists, songwriters and their publishers from Canada and throughout the world, based on a survey of performances of their musical works in Canada. SOCAN distributes all of the royalties that it collects after covering its collection and administrative costs. It makes no profits and has no retained earnings.

If I use music in ways other than public performance, such as "copying" a recording, what are my copyright responsibilities?

Your SOCAN license only grants the right to public performance of musical works. If you "copy" music you will be breaking the law in other areas of copyright (the Duplication & Distribution right as well as the Mechanical right).

If you would like more information on these "other" uses, you can contact the following organizations directly for more details.

CONNECT Music Licensing (Formerly the AVLA - Audio-Video Licensing Agency Inc) licenses the duplication of music recordings . Many professional DJs in Canada have this License (see below).

The CMRRA (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd.) or SODRAC (Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers in Canada Ltd.) license the mechanical right (reproduction of musical works) and the synchronization right (marriage of music to video/film). The synchronization right will be of interest to you if your videographer is "adding" music to your wedding video.

Hire a PRO-DJ and (if required) he or she should have the Connect Music License included in the price of their service.

You will notice that most of the professional disc jockeys available to do your function will advertise they have a "Connect Music Licensing" License. If not, ask them. This License is another copyright license issued specifically to disc jockeys by Connect Music Licensing representing the copyright holders for this particular right under law, and permits them to copy and compile music for professional use such as your function. You as a client are not responsible for this License, your DJ is.

If you wish to confirm that your selected DJ has such a License,
You can contact the association's Connect Music Licensing License Coordinator
Dennis Hampson via email to info@cpdja.ca

Does the SOCAN License cover the performance of all music?

Virtually all of the world's copyright music in every style that is used commercially is licensed by SOCAN. SOCAN administers the performing rights of its Canadian members as well as foreign copyright owners whose works are licensed in Canada by SOCAN.

When and How should I apply for a SOCAN License?

You must obtain a SOCAN License before musical performances in public begin. Your hall or hotel Catering Manager should provide you with the appropriate application or call your local SOCAN office.

CPDJA / AVLA License Coordinator
Dennis Hampson
Executive Director
Email: info@cpdja.ca

AVLA -Audio-Video Licensing Agency Inc.
Janet Turner
Clearance Administrator and Admin Assistant
Email: jturner@connectmusic.ca

Socan Head Office
41 Valleybrook Drive,
Don Mills, Ontario M3B 2S6
Tel: (416) 445-8700 or 1-800 55 socan
Fax: (416) 445-7108

SOCAN Quebec
600 de Maisonneuve Blvd West., Suite 500
Montreal, Quebec. H3A 3J2
Tel: (514) 844-8377 or 1 800 79 socan
Fax: (514) 849-8446

SOCAN West Coast Division
1201 West Pender St. Suite 400
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6E 2V2
Tel: (604) 669-5569 or 1 800 93 socan
Fax: (604) 688-1142

SOCAN Edmonton
8704 – 51 Avenue, Suite 104
Edmonton, Alberta, T6E 5E8
Tel: (403) 468-0905 or 1 800 51 socan

SOCAN Dartmouth
45 Alderney Drive, Suite 802, Queen Square
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. B2Y 2N6
Tel: (902) 464-7000 or 1 800 70 socan
Fax: (902) 464-9696