What is a collecting society?
Often unknown, collecting societies are important organizations that anyone involved in the music sector should know about. These societies can be a very important source of income for performers.
The purpose of these societies is to manage rights that it would be impossible or too complicated for artists to manage by themselves. For example, it would be too difficult for a performer to go and get paid from every radio station that makes a copy of his music to have it played. Furthermore, since there are several songs to manage and that the rights are often shared by several people on the same musical track, it would become easy to lose track! It is for these reasons that collecting societies are of great use, and even a necessity since they can perform many tasks for you that would often be impossible to do on an individual basis.
In a simple way, these societies will issue licenses -meaning that they authorize the use of your music under certain conditions) – to users such as concert halls, bars, companies, radio or online music platforms, which will in return have to pay to use it. The collective management societies are responsible for collecting the royalties due for these uses and distributing them to those entitled to them. Even strictly in music, there are a dizzying number of societies for different rights, all over the world. In Canada, many have often heard of SOCAN, which generally manages copyright for songwriters.
But the Copyright Act also grants rights to performers and producers, also known as neighboring rights. It is SOPROQ that manages neighboring rights for sound recording and music video producers. On the side of performers, it is ARTISTI who carries out this management.
Be aware that for these last two societies, there are also similar societies in Canada which are more present in the English-speaking world. Roughly, CONNECT is an equivalent of SOPROQ while MROC and RACS are equivalents of ARTISTI.
Although it is easy to get lost in all these acronyms, a good understanding of these organizations will allow you to go and collect the amounts that are due to you. Even better, through strength in numbers, societies like ARTISTI represent the interests of their members to industry and government in an effort to strengthen the performers rights.