Do DJs have to pay SOCAN fees?

Dateline: Toronto, Canada

DJs have to suffer the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” from many different directions and situations within our business dealings. Hall Managers inform us that we need to pay a SOCAN fee when we enter their premises to play our music for the party guests we service. Party Hosts do the same. They sometimes call in quite “a state of mind” and are incensed at the fact that there is a $65 to $100 SOCAN fee tacked onto their hall rental fee!


You, the poor “intermediary,” have to try to explain to both of these complainants that this fee has nothing to do with your DJ Business. It has everything to do with PERFORMANCE RIGHTS of any musical works that are played within a public (commercial) location. Yes, that means (technically) if an “owner” of a hall, restaurant, dentist office, taxi cab, or massage parlour is playing piped in (Record Label) music over their “in-business” sound system, they are (by law) required to pay a performance fee to the owners and artists of that musical media.


So when a band, an ensemble, a DJ or a Karaoke Elvis and troop enters a commercial venue to entertain patrons with a variety of recorded, sheet music, memorized tunes, the VENDOR becomes responsible to SOCAN for the public “listening” rights (called Performance Rights) to that entertainment provision.


Do not allow your business to have this responsibility shifted onto your shoulders. SOCAN is not after DJs to pay the bill for the host who owns the location where the music is played on a daily or regular basis. SOCAN knows that these locations are “captivated” and rooted enterprises, and cannot pick up their foundations and move the building to a new location in order to avoid the SOCAN investigators that come around to claim their “performance rights.”


If you wish to have more information about this invigorating topic, then I suggest that you go to their National Website at and check out the section on FAQ’s. If that doesn’t satisfy you, give them a call on their 1-866-307-6226 toll free line.

Doug Scott