If you’re a Canadian musician and you've performed on a recording receiving airplay in Canada or internationally, the Recording Artists' Collecting Society may have money for you. The Recording Artists' Collecting Society is a division of ACTRA known as RACS. They collect and distribute neighbouring rights payments to recording artists.
We interviewed Andrew Karis from RACS to find out more about what they do, and how they are helping collect money for artists in Canada.
What does Recording Artists’ Collecting Society (RACS) do for artists?
RACS is a division of ACTRA that collects and distributes equitable remuneration (aka neighbouring rights payments) to recording artists (featured performers, background musicians etc.). In other words, we pay performers when the recordings they perform on are broadcast.
For many years Canadian composers and authors have received royalties from the broadcast or public performance of their songs. These royalties are collected by SOCAN (or by ASCAP and BMI the US).
In 1997 the Copyright Act of Canada was amended to acknowledge the essential contribution of artists and record companies in the creation of recorded music and to add a right to equitable remuneration for artists and record companies, which is in line with similar rights in the rest of the world. At RACS, it’s our job to get these monies into the hands of recordings artists.
Why is it important for artists to know about RACS?
As the music industry continues to change and existing revenue streams continue to decline, artists are becoming more reliant on varied sources of revenue than ever before.
Since performance royalties are a vital and growing part of this income mix, it’s important for artists to understand where and how they can collect their share.
Our role at RACS is to pay performers when a recording they’ve performed on receives airplay. We believe that these monies help an artist’s long-term success by allowing them to focus more on their craft and less on looking for a part-time job.
Who is eligible to join RACS?
Any recording artist is able to register with RACS. Eligibility for payment is a bit more specific and is determined by the recording, not the performer. If the recording is eligible for payment, then so are the performers.
In order for a recording to be eligible, it must be either: a) recorded in Canada or a Rome Convention country, or b) the maker (usually the owner of the recording) is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or a Rome Convention country, or is a corporation headquartered in Canada or a Rome Convention country.
Since the United States has not yet signed onto the Rome Convention, recordings that are owned by US-based record companies and are recorded in the US are usually not eligible for payment. Eligibility can be quite nuanced, so it’s always best to give us a call if you have a specific question.
Where does RACS collect money from for recording artists?
Monies generally come from the license fees that users are required to pay in order to broadcast recordings. Depending on the tariff, these fees come from a small percentage of advertising revenues, a portion of subscription fees or other fees that are based on the size and/or capacity of the establishment or venue.
Our tariffs currently cover commercial radio, CBC radio, satellite radio, background music (music played in bars, restaurants, retail stores etc.), music played at live events and dance and fitness venues. An umbrella collective called Re:Sound is responsible for issuing licenses and collecting monies from music users on behalf of RACS and the other sub-collectives. RACS works directly with artists and makes sure that hey are registered and receiving their share.
In addition to revenues from tariffs, RACS also distributes monies derived from the Private Copying Levy. The levy is paid by manufacturers and distributers of blank CD’s and is collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC). RACS makes sure that recording artists receive their share of the private copying levy.
Do you collect from all countries/territories?
Yes. We currently have reciprocal agreements in place with organizations from 19 countries around the world. This allows us to distribute monies from these territories to recording artists that are registered with us. Keep an eye on the international section of our website for the latest territories that we’re collecting from.
How can artists get money for work they have recorded?
The first and most important step is to register with RACS. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by registering online with RACS. Alternatively, artists can contact us and register by using paper forms.
In either case, artists may also have to submit a list of recordings that they have performed on. This information allows us to determine whether there are any monies available, now or in the future.
We’ve created a Repertoire Reporting form to assist artists in submitting info about which recordings they’ve performed on, but some artists prefer to submit info by spreadsheet, label copy, liner notes or recording contract. We’ll accept just about anything as long as it provides us with the info we need.
From there, an artist will simply need to update us periodically with new recordings that they’ve performed on and we’ll ensure that they get paid.
How does RACS distribute these royalties?
RACS distributes 80% of the monies to the featured performer(s) on a recording and 20% of the monies to the non-featured performer(s). For large ensembles creating classical or jazz recordings, slightly different splits are applied.
A featured performer is generally credited as the main artist, featured guest or member of the featured band on a recording. A non-featured performer is any performer on a recording that is not a featured performer, but is usually a session musician or backing vocalists.
Many artists registered with RACS collect both as featured artists on their own recordings, but also as non-featured performers on additional recordings that they may have performed on. It is, however, not possible to collect as both a featured and non-featured performer on the same recording.
Are there any fees associated with being a member?
RACS is a non-profit organization and it’s free to register with us. We do, however, take a small administrative fee off each payment.
Do you have money collected for artists waiting for them to claim it?
In some instances, yes we do. In other cases we have monies available, but we’re not entirely certain about how to split them. In these cases we need additional information from the artists, such as which tracks they performed on or info about the other performers on the session.
Tell us about the insurance program The Arts and Entertainment Plan. Why was it created?
The Arts and Entertainment plan is an insurance plan that was created for and designed by the artistic community, which makes it positioned to understand the unique needs of those who earn their living through their creativity.
It offers affordable health, dental, prescription, life and travel insurance to members of participating arts organizations. The underwriter of the plan, Actra Fraternal Benefits Society (AFBS), is a not-for-profit insurer that is member-owned and governed and has been serving the community for over 35 years.
What different types of insurance are offered through the program?
The Arts & Entertainment plan offers affordable health, dental, prescription, life and travel insurance to members of participating arts organizations. In addition, home, tenant, auto insurance and pet insurance is also offered at preferred rates.
Through a partnership with Front Row, members of the Arts and entertainment plan are also eligible for musical gear and performance liability insurance.
Who is eligible to apply for coverage?
If you register with RACS and are Canadian, you’re eligible for coverage. If you aren’t registered with RACS you may also be able to seek coverage as a member of another participating organization, including SOCAN, ACTRA and CARFAC Ontario to name a few.
Build a stunning band website and store in minutes
- Promote your music on your own unique website.
- Sell music & merch directly to your fans. Keep 100%.
- Grow your fan base with built-in marketing tools.
Free 30 day trial, no credit card needed.