Royalty Registration Guide for Canadians

This week we took a dive into the topic of Royalties. In order to make a living as a recording artist, it is necessary to understand the ecosystem of royalties generated by the performance, purchase, and broadcasting of your music. In order to receive royalties, you must sign up with numerous organizations whose job it is to track the broadcast or performance  of your music. If you are an independent artist, you are eligible to collect all the associated royalty streams — you are essentially your own label and publisher too. 

The world of royalties has two distinct components: the musical composition itself (the song and its lyrics) and the recording (the captured performance of a song). There are four groups of “rights holders”, who are entitled to certain royalties. This includes the:

  1. Performers on a recording: Such as the featured artist, band members, backup singers, and session musicians.
  2. Maker: The entity funding the project, such as a record label (or you, if you are independent of a label)
  3. Songwriter/Composer: The person who wrote the music and lyrics.
  4. Publisher: This entity co-owns or buys rights to a musical work from songwriters and uses their connections to exploit (in a good way) the songwriter’s works, getting the song maximum exposure.

A potential flaw within Canada’s copyright system is that Performers and Makers are not entitled to public performance royalties when their sound recordings are used in TV and film. In this case, only the Songwriters and Publishers are owed royalties. 

Now let’s dive into the organizations you (may) need to sign up with!

  1. SOCAN: Socan royalties are for songwriters, composers, and publishers. 
  2. MROC or ACTRA/RACS: These organizations collect royalties for the musicians who played on the recording. This includes solo artists, band members, and session musicians.
  3. CONNECT or SOPROQ: The Canadian neighbouring rights organization for owners (aka. labels or makers). Connect also issues ISRC (International Standard Recording Codes), which are embedded in a song’s metadata during the mastering stage of a song’s production, and track songs throughout the digital world. Sound Exchange: The US neighbouring rights for owners and performers.

Despite the challenges of navigating the confusing and ever-changing music industry, there are many resources and supports along the way. If you have questions, you may reach out to these organizations directly, or connect with your local music association (Alberta Music, if you’re in Alberta!)

Making the Most of It

Due to our current (Covid) situation, the vast majority of us here at Bent River, and more broadly throughout the University and beyond, have been working remotely since last March. Judging by the recent jump in Alberta cases, it is unlikely this will change any time soon. When one adds to this the impending darkness and isolation of an Edmonton winter, times ahead can seem a bit less than bright. Given these challenges, it is becoming increasingly important to seek out different kinds of connections and kinship networks that can help sustain us through these unprecedented times.

One such network for me (Catlin), has been the Bent River team! Through our weekly meetings with faculty, label associates, and interns I’ve had the opportunity to put my energies towards something truly rewarding: helping raise the voices of other Artists while learning the ins-and-outs of the recording industry. Though there have been limitations on our activities this year, the team has been keeping very busy working on post-production for a number of albums, collaborating with the Design department for an album cover competition and revamping for our website, as well as submitting Juno nominations for a number of our amazingly talented Artists.

We certainly miss having the chance to hold live concerts, (or even our weekly meetings in person for that matter) but we are currently researching and planning for upcoming online events. Though we may not get to shake hands this year, knowing that we’re all still working towards bringing good music to the world does offer this intern some solace.

Socially Distanced in the Studio

This past Saturday (Hallows’ Eve) we stopped by Studio A for Roya’s second recording session this term. Her entire band was in attendance; recording bedtracks for drums, bass, guitar, piano, santur, and voice.

After a few passes at a particular song, Producer, Professor and label head Paul Johnston made the decision to mute the ever controversial “click-track” or metronome, mid-way through the tune. This seemed to be the magic touch that was needed, as the bridge that followed was full of liveliness.

Although the team spent many hours in the studio, the day flew by thanks to a great group of musicians. As the session wrapped up, Roya gave us some insight into the recording process. She explained that the bulk of the material needed for her album has now been captured. As some of her compositions have been in the works for years, she finds it extremely satisfying to finally reach this recording milestone!

Dreaming: The Prague Sessions — Now Available!

This week we spoke with Allan Gilliland to catch up and discuss his new single “Perryscope” and his brand new album release Dreaming: The Prague Sessions. He talked about his inspiration and what to expect from his new album. 

The song is very dynamic and fun; what was the recording process like? 
Because there were 70 musicians in the room during the whole process, it was a real test in organizational skills and making sure we had what we wanted before moving on. Kudos to conductor Raymond Baril for keeping it all together.

What was your inspiration for the single? 
This entire piece was originally going to be a concerto for saxophone and piano. Unfortunately, Tommy Banks had to withdraw from the project when he got sick and eventually passed away.
So, I was thinking about the balance between the piano and saxophone, and it’s one of the reasons there is a prominent piano part in this and the 2nd movement. I knew I wanted it to be up-tempo and virtuosic. I also wanted it to have a set of chord changes that PJ Perry would have fun improvising on the track. Finally, as I was writing, I thought a lot about the key as I knew PJ would be playing the alto saxophone.

What was the writing process like? 
This piece came quite easily. I have a very strict writing process. I get up every morning at 5 am and write until around 8. With that schedule, it takes me 4-6 months to write a concerto of this scope.

What was it like recording in Prague?
A complete dream! It was a very complicated project to put together, nine people traveling from Canada plus a 65-piece orchestra. Still, it all came together so much better than I hoped, and I’m so proud of everyone who took part.

In the Studio with ROYA

Photo by Roya Yazdanmehr

This past weekend, we visited with Roya Yazdanmehr in the studio while she and co-writer & guitarist Justin Khuong recorded overdubs for the first four songs from her upcoming album. The session was led by Producer and Professor Paul Johnston, with assistance from a number of recording students. 

We asked Roya to reflect on the session, and catch us up on what she’s been doing:

“The project has been on pause for a while so it was exciting to get back into the studio and resume working. It was my first time in the new studio (Studio A in Allard Hall), and it was a beautiful experience. I felt at ease and calm in the space — recording can feel stressful for me, feeling the pressure to get things just right, and I’m grateful for such a supportive team. I have also resumed rehearsals with my full band, in preparation for recording the remainder of the album at the end of October! It feels great to be creating again.”

Roya’s vocals possess a purity of tone that demands attention, dynamically weaving their way through her compositions. Blending the sounds of acoustic guitars, folk rhythms, and jazz infused melodies, Roya encaptures her audiences with direct but poetic encounters.

Watch out for more exciting updates on Roya’s album!