Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jeff Price, SOCAN CEO Discuss Price's New Role at Organization

SOCAN -- the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada - announced earlier this week that it has hired TuneCore co-founder and former CEO Jeff Price as a consultant, but the performance rights organization has no plans to start a TuneCore-like business. 

"We don't own rights and nothing is changing in our business model," says SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. "This is not a land grab." 

But SOCAN would like to offer more services to its members, and Baptiste thinks Price can help. "The digital model is changing every day with new possibilities, and we have to make sure we stay on top of that," Baptiste says. "Jeff is a really smart guy and he will help us explore some opportunities." 

Baptiste points out that not all songwriters will understand the opportunities being presented to them by digital services, and he can offer advice and information on how to navigate them. If SOCAN can help them understand whether a new service is or isn't suitable for them, that would be improving the value the organization provides to its members. 

For his part, Price says he is starting with a blank page on what he will bring to the job, as they haven't even laid out a first task for him. 

"I am intrigued by the opportunity," Price says. "I am curious to see where this goes and see what I can drum up for them." 

Some industry speculators are surprised to see Price partner with a PRO because he has often been critical of them, saying that they are not transparent enough. However, he has endorsed SOCAN in the past. 

Because songwriters can't monitor the use of their music all over the world, they need to hire a PRO to collect their money from supermarkets, television, YouTube and all sorts of live venues, and they should be able to know what they will get paid from each of them, Price says. 

"It's a very simple question and, yes, most of the time you won't get an answer or even a non-answer from most [PROs]. From SOCAN you can get that answer.  Payments to songwriters should be very granular ... and you should know the exact pay rate, and that's what SOCAN does." 

How do they do that? Price points to SOCAN's online calculator, where users can input information about an upcoming performance and estimate how they will be paid, even before the performance happens. 

Moreover, another thing Price said he likes about SOCAN is the fact that it doesn't take a cut of foreign performance royalties - i.e., when music comes from foreign territories, both the PRO in that territory and the PRO in the songwriter's home territory take a cut, but SOCAN does not. 

He also says that SOCAN doesn't maintain a "black box," which in music-industry parlance is money held by an organization when it loses track of a songwriters address: SOCAN actually puts up a public list of songwriters it owes money to and tries to find them. 

"I find that incredibly refreshing," Price says. 

Price left his position as CEO of TuneCore amid controversy in August, and the owners of that organization have not yet publicly stated who is running the organization in his place.

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