The Glitz and Glamour… and Everything Else Behind the Scenes at SOCAN (IP Intensive Reflection)

The Glitz and Glamour… and Everything Else Behind the Scenes at SOCAN (IP Intensive Reflection)

Sally Yoon is an IPilogue Writer and a 3L JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. This article was written as a requirement for Prof. Pina D’Agostino’s IP Intensive Program.

Growing up playing the violin and developing a deep appreciation for the performing arts, I made it clear from the get-go that SOCAN (The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) was where I wanted to be for my 10-week placement. SOCAN is Canada’s largest member-based rights management organization, connecting more than 4 million creators and publishers worldwide and ensuring that they are compensated for their work.

I joined the team at SOCAN at an exciting time – after a long hiatus, the organization was revving up to start in-person events again. By the end of my first week, I signed up to volunteer at the 2022 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) Gala, where I had the opportunity to greet Canadian talent and feel the rush of all the coordination that happens backstage. I also participated in SOCAN’s first in-person Town Hall since the pandemic and listened to a special performance from the unbelievably talented Emily Steinwall, the recipient of the 2022 SOCAN Songwriting Prize. Attending these events early into my internship served as a nice exposure to the glitz and glamour of the music Industry and helped me develop an appreciation for the work done behind the scenes by SOCAN to support its members.

As an intern, I never felt short of tasks, and I found that this reflected the dynamic nature of the music market. On some days, I was looking into two-decade-old decisions from Copyright Board to make sense of particular rates today, and on other days I was doing research on to-be-released subscription plans for video-on-demand services. Moreover, on top of learning about SOCAN’s tariffs, I also conducted research on dozens of foreign PRO (performance rights organisation) concert/festival tariffs to see how they differ from each other. Whether it was something from the past, something about to happen in the future or something happening abroad, I learned something new about the music market every day, and I felt like I got a glimpse of the complexities that SOCAN's counsels must be mindful of. Understanding this made it easier to put myself in the shoes of an in-house counsel and find ways to present my research so that it is easily digestible to someone juggling a dozen tasks all at once.

Midway through my internship, I was fortunate enough to observe a rare, virtual hearing on online music services. It was interesting to hear the issues raised by both SOCAN and music services, and the questions raised by the Board in an attempt to better understand the situation and find a solution. It was a pleasant surprise to see the virtual hearing room filled with IP Osgoode alumni, which demonstrated the program's effectiveness in launching its students to fulfilling careers. During my internship, I always felt supported by other IP Osgoode alumni, as well as the entire legal team at SOCAN. The team was always there to guide me when I felt stumped, and it was a good reminder of the priceless value of good mentorship and collegiality in the workplace.

My favourite memory is watching the CSHF Gala rehearsal backstage with other event volunteers at Massey Hall. As we watched SOCAN members take over the stage - singing, dancing, and interacting with the band - some remarked, “I don't know how they do it”. Completing my internship, it is clear to me that all the hard work SOCAN does behind the scenes enables the members to carry on and do what they do best.