PRO Canada/SDE Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


PRO Canada/SDE Canada

PRO Canada/SDE Canada (Performing Rights Organization of Canada Limited/Société de Droits d'Exécution du Canada Limitée). Canada's second collective administering rights of public performance of musical works. Known 1940-77 as BMI Canada Limited, three additional forms of the name were used: P.R.O.

PRO Canada/SDE Canada (Performing Rights Organization of Canada Limited/Société de Droits d'Exécution du Canada Limitée). Canada's second collective administering rights of public performance of musical works. Known 1940-77 as BMI Canada Limited, three additional forms of the name were used: P.R.O. Canada and PRO Canada 1977-86, and, 1986-9 PROCAN. Established in 1940 and operated for the first seven years as a Canadian presence of the US organization Broadcast Music Inc, to license in Canada the parent company's repertoire. Some Canadian composers were already affiliates of the US organization and their works were a part of that repertoire.

In 1947 BMI Canada assumed a more active role on behalf of Canadian affiliate composers, writers, and publishers, attracting new affiliates not only from Canada and the USA but also from other parts of the world, protecting their performing rights and administering the collection and distribution of their royalties, under the directorship of Wm Harold Moon (b Toronto 10 Jul 1908, d Yuma, Ariz, 5 Jan 1984, a pioneer in Canadian radio and TV, the recipient in 1974 of the first Canadian Music Hall of Fame Award and the person for whom BMI Canada established the Wm Harold Moon Award, in honour of his dedication to Canadian music). By 1989 the organization had grown to represent 21,018 writers and composers and 3456 publishers from Canada and around the world.

By Letters Patent dated 13 May 1976 BMI Canada changed its status: its shares were acquired by Music Promotion Foundation which was established primarily for that purpose. By supplementary Letters Patent dated 15 Jul 1977, BMI Canada's corporate name was changed to Performing Rights Organization of Canada Limited/Société de Droits d'Exécution du Canada Limitée. It was now a fully Canadian not-for-profit organization. The head office was in Don Mills (Toronto) Ont. In 1948 a Montreal office was opened, the first branch performing-rights office in Canada. A Vancouver office was opened in 1968, the first performing-rights office in western Canada. Licensing offices were established subsequently in Edmonton (1984) and Halifax/Dartmouth (1985).

Managing directors/General Managers have been Wm Harold Moon 1947-73, S. Campbell Ritchie 1973-80, succeeded in 1980 by Jan Matejcek who had joined PRO Canada in 1977 as assistant General Manager and Head of the International Division. In 1977 Wm Harold Moon became PRO Canada's chairman of the board Gordon F. Henderson, OC, QC, its first president. Upon the death of Moon in 1984, Henderson succeeded him as chairman of the board and Jan Matejcek was appointed president and general manager. As head of the international division, he established direct reciprocal relations with all foreign sister-societies previously handled through BMI of New York. First direct foreign royalty payments to PRO Canada affiliates were introduced in 1979.

PRO Canada became a member of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) in 1980, was subsequently elected into its administration council, and in 1986 to its executive bureau. In 1981 PRO Canada hosted the eighth Congress of the International Copyright Society INTERGU.

In an effort to help Canadian composers and songwriters collect mechanical royalties from the USA and overseas countries, a service until then unavailable, a mechanical rights division of PRO Canada was established with the acronym CANAMEC. Activity in this field of mechanical rights led subsequently to the founding of SODRAC (Society for the Reproduction Rights of Authors and Composers) in partnership with SPAQ and SACEM/SDRM, the French performing and mechanical rights society. As a result SACEM/SDRM Canada and CANAMEC were phased out. PRO Canada divested itself of its shares in SODRAC in 1988.

While PRO Canada's primary function continued to be the collection of license fees and distribution of royalties to affiliates, it assisted them and the music community at large in other ways, through workshops, competitions, awards, and other important promotional activity on both national and international levels.

In 1947 BMI Canada established a publishing division headed by Jean L. Howson. She was succeeded in 1956 by Ronald R. Napier, who was head of the publishing division 1959-69 and also manager of concert music administration 1963-84. After Napier's retirement in 1984, Rick MacMillan succeeded him and remained in that capacity until 1990, when he was named editor of the SOCAN publications Canadian Composer and Probe. Claude Champagne served 1949-65 as editor-in-chief of the contemporary music dept. During the 1950s BMI Canada was the agent for Associated Music Publishers of New York and carried a large stock of the publications of Breitkopf and Härtel, B. Schott's, Universal Edition, C.F. Peters and other publishers. By 1969, when it was sold to Berandol, the publishing division held the largest number of copyrights of Canadian popular and serious music in Canada.

Together with publishing activities, BMI Canada was for some time owner of the Melbourne record label, acted as its artist-and-repertoire director and financed partially or entirely all 23 titles in the Melbourne catalogue, which was devoted predominantly to Canadian music. Assistance was also provided to some CBC and Canadian Music Centre recordings.

Biographical files of Canadian writer and composers were made available for research purposes and profiles of affiliated Canadian composers of serious music were published in brochures in French and English and distributed nationally and internationally.

Promotion of Canadian music outside the country was a long-standing mandate of the organization. In 1950 BMI Canada co-operated with the Oklahoma SO in devoting one in a series of 13 broadcasts of 20th-century music to works by Canadians. In 1953 it co-operated with Broadcast Music Inc in presenting at Carnegie Hall a concert of Canadian music conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Liaison, financial, and volunteer assistance were provided to the CMCentre, the Healey Willan Centennial Celebration Committee, the Academy of Country Music Entertainment, the NYO, Canada Music Week, CARAS, FACTOR, and many others.

From the 1950s to 1977 BMI Canada provided Canadian broadcasters with programming information, workshops, and listings of all recorded Canadian music registered with the organization. The lists were titled 'Yes, There is Canadian Music/Oui, Notre Musique existe!' PRO Canada published The PROCAN Handbook (Don Mills, Ont 1986) as a groundfloor introduction to copyright, performing rights, and the organization itself.

The organization's bi-monthly magazine The Music Scene and its French-language counterpart La Scène musicale made their appearance in 1967 and continued under the same names after the organization's 1974 change of status and name until the end of 1989.

In 1972, under the leadership of Lehman Engel, the organization began monthly musical theatre workshops in Toronto for aspiring composers. These workshops led, in 1974, to the first annual Showcase of Songs from Musical Shows, produced in Toronto. In 1970 and 1971 PRO Canada sponsored a series of five workshops for film composers. In 1980 it introduced a second series and expanded the audiences to include film producers and directors, along with composers. In addition, PRO Canada has sent its personnel and guest panelists to speak to groups of affiliates or music industry arts students across the country.

In 1989 PRO Canada awards included annual student composers' awards, annual songwriters' awards, biennial orchestra awards, and an annual award to a student lawyer for a paper on copyright. (see also Copyright.) An annual awards dinner (the first one held in 1969) honoured affiliated songwriters and publishers.

Tentative negotiations concerning a possible merger of PRO Canada and CAPAC as one national performing rights society started in early 1984 and in 1989 led to a formal agreement between CAPAC, PRO Canada, and MPF (Music Promotion Foundation) to form the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada - SOCAN.

Further Reading