The Rights of Online Concerts:
This is the second blog about online concert licensing and royalties. In the first blog, I provided a chart that summarized some licensing considerations for online concerts based in Canada. This blog introduces three rights that presenters require with respect to the compositions being performed at commercial online concerts.
Performance Rights Royalties
SOCAN grants rights for compositions to be communicated to the public by telecommunication—this includes online concerts for viewers in Canada. SOCAN charges a license fee of 2.99% of the value of tickets sold to Canadians or 2.99% of performer fees for free concerts. Regardless of the total of such calculation, there is a minimum fee charged by SOCAN in the amount of $35 per concert. SOCAN’s payment process is similar to live in-person concerts, including that fees are paid quarterly.
For both live in-person and online concerts, SOCAN pays the writers and publishers of the compositions performed. Writers and/or publishers register compositions with SOCAN and submit cue sheets for each relevant concert. For hybrid concerts—those with both online and in person attendees—SOCAN is paid based on the revenue model for each concert experience, without overlapping fees.
International: With respect to viewers outside of Canada, licenses must be obtained from international PROs based on location.
Mechanical Reproduction Rights
The right to reproduce compositions is required both for live-streamed concerts and for views afterward. The Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and SOCAN Reproduction Rights Services (aka SOCAN RR) have granted these rights to major platforms such as Facebook (including for Instagram) and YouTube, regarding views in Canada.
CMRRA’s approach is to license services instead of individuals, while SOCAN RR’s approach is to license services and promoters. As such, when concerts appear on platforms without a licence from CMRRA or SOCAN RR, the rights to reproduce the compositions must come from the publishers or self-published writers (writers who don’t have a publisher) of the relevant compositions. When there is an online concert on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, if all compositions performed are fully represented by CMRRA or SOCAN RR, and all views from Canada, with respect to the reproduction of the compositions performed, subject to some exceptions, all mechanical rights are covered by existing CMRRA and/or SOCAN RR licenses, which means the promoter doesn’t need to seek such rights directly from the publishers of the compositions.
International: With respect to mechanical reproduction rights outside of Canada, in countries that recognize this right (which does not include the U.S.) licenses are obtained from publishers or from international collection societies.
When music is used in television, films, advertisements, games or otherwise put to moving pictures, the right to use the master recording (this master use license is generally obtained from the owner of the master) and the composition [a synchronization license – obtained from the writer(s), or their publisher(s)] is required. A synchronization license is also required for online concerts. This territory of the rights being obtained should be international if the concert has the potential to be viewed anywhere in the world.
Considering the licences referenced above will help to ensure online concerts operate with proper licenses in place. Additional considerations include the platform on which the online concert is available and compositions in the same set list may have different parties who are required to provide the rights.
How Can We Help?
- We work with presenters, including festivals and online concert venues, to help ensure they have the rights they need when presenting online concerts.
- We work with writers, performers and managers to help them navigate these rights, clarify entitlements among writers and producers, and help ensure available royalties are being collected.
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Updated to November 9, 2020
Edwards Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film and TV, and Interactive Digital Media industry clients. For more info and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca
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* This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.