Licensing, Canada, Performance Rights Organizations, Broadcasting

The Difference Between SOCAN and Re:Sound -- Canadian Music Licensing Explained

To legally broadcast music via the internet, such as on an internet radio station, you need to ensure you have all the proper licensing in place. We've previously discussed staying compliant in the United States, but what about legally broadcasting in Canada?

There are two main copyright collective societies, also known as performance rights organizations (PRO), in Canada who deal with musical copyrights by collecting fees and distributing royalties to the rights holders -- SOCAN and Re:Sound.

In order to broadcast legally, you need a license with both of those PROs. Why both? While they seem similar, they actually represent different rights holders.


SOCAN, more formally known as the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, is a performance right organization that covers composition royalties.

Every time a song is played in public, in our case on an internet radio station, SOCAN pays songwriters and composers, and their publishers. Think of this like sheet music -- the music as you'd see it on paper. There are lyrics and notes. Sometimes these contributors are behind-the-scenes and not audibly heard on the record.


While Re:Sound similarly collects fees and pays contributors, they are paying the recording artists, musicians, and record labels. Re:Sound collects royalties for what you actually hear.

These contributors are the artists that are widely known for their audible performances, like Celine Dion, *NSYNC, and Michael Jackson.

Without either SOCAN or Re:Sound, broadcasting into Canada would require obtaining permission from every publisher, lyricist, songwriter, composer, recording artist, background musician, and record label. A single song can have multiple songwriters, composers, recording artists, and musicians just to name a few.

Instead of tracking every single person or company down to get permission to play just one single song, you can report what you have played to SOCAN and Re:Sound (separately), pay a fee to each organization, and SOCAN will handle paying royalties to publishers, lyricists, songwriters, and composers while Re:Sound will pay royalties to recording artists and record labels.

Live365 and Canadian Music Licensing
Live365 has secured licensing in Canada from both SOCAN and Re:Sound. All Live365 originating broadcasts are now covered in Canada! Don't worry about the hassle of reporting to SOCAN and Re:Sound each month -- Live365 will handle all of that!

Interested in learning more? Send us an email at

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended as legal advice. Please consult with qualified professionals if you have specific questions about copyrights and licensing.

Article image: Michael Mroczek via Unsplash.

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About Sarah Osborne

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