Copyright board to charge for music at weddings, parades

The Copyright Board of Canada has certified new tariffs that apply to recorded music used at live events including conventions, karaoke bars, ice shows, fairs and weddings.

Money can't buy love — but if you want some great tunes playing at your wedding, it's going to cost you.

The Copyright Board of Canada has certified new tariffs that apply to recorded music used at live events including conventions, karaoke bars, ice shows, fairs and, yes, weddings. The fees will be collected by a not-for-profit called Re:Sound.

The new tariffs apply to recorded music used at live events, including conventions, karaoke bars, weddings and parades with floats playing music. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

While the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (otherwise known as SOCAN) already collects money from many of these events for the songwriters, Re:Sound will represent the record labels and performers who contributed to the music.

"We are trying to establish tariffs for the remuneration of everybody involved in the music — everybody that has some rights to receive some remuneration," said Gilles McDougall of the Copyright Association of Canada, adding that the tarriff will likely result in a few million dollars a year for performers.

Re:Sound spokesman Matthew Fortier said the money collected will make a big difference to small operations.

"Sometimes you think of the larger artists or record labels, but most often it goes to small, struggling artists and record labels — we have thousands signed up with us," he said. 

The organization acknowledged how central music is to so many events.

"Recorded music is a vital part of the business model for many live events and, indeed, it is impossible to imagine a fashion show, festival, parade or karaoke bar without music," Re:Sound's director of licensing, Martin Gangnier, said in a statement.

It's up to organizers of public events or owners of wedding venues or bars to pay those royalties, so it may be up to the business to decide whether to pass that cost on — for instance, to those happy newlyweds.

"Essentially it's up to the business that owes the royalty to decide exactly what their accounting will be, where it comes from," Fortier said.

Fees depend on event type, number of attendees

The reporting process works on the honour system — it's up to the businesses to tell Re:Sound how much music they've used — though Fortier said his organization has a team of licensing professionals across Canada to ensure the rules are being followed.

The fees vary depending on the size of the audience and the type of event.

For weddings, receptions, conventions, assemblies and fashion shows, the fee is $9.25 per day if fewer than 100 people are present and goes up to $39.33 for crowds of more than 500 people. If there's dancing, the fees double.

Karaoke bars will pay between $86.06 and $124 annually depending on how many days a week they permit the amateur crooning. 

And parades, meanwhile, will be charged $4.39 for each float with recorded music participating in the parade, subject to a minimum fee of $32.55 per day.

Dan Chabot, who supplies bars with karaoke equipment, said the new tariff shouldn't affect his customers' bottom line.

"I don't really think it will have much of an impact and the beauty about it is it will put money back in to the performers that have provided all kinds of great music over the years for us."

Bill Yorke, a DJ who has worked weddings and dances around Calgary for over two decades, said he approves of the new tariff if it will, in turn, benefit performers.

"If we do not support the artists with the iPods and zipDJ, iTunes, YouTube…if we don't do something now, we will not have music," said Yorke.

Yorke does worry, however, that the money collected won't necessarily end up in the hands of musicians. And that while the venues will have to pay the new fee up front — in the end it will be the customer that ends up paying out of pocket.

"The client is going to be charged for it, there's no question," he said.