By Chad Richardson
I’ve been in Los Angeles now for 15 years and time has certainly flown by. I often lament that it took me 14 years to appreciate this city, so I like to say that I’m happily enjoying my first year of liking Los Angeles.
I was asked once on a panel what the difference was between L.A. and Toronto. My answer was quite simple, and it was actually the difference between L.A. and every city. L.A. is the only place where you don’t get to a certain point in your career and say, “Well I’ve gone as far as I can go, it’s time to move to…” Once you get to Los Angeles, the sky is the limit. But the city of angels is also the city of angles. Pretty much everyone has a motive and sometimes it’s hard to navigate those waters.
When I was asked to join SOCAN almost two years ago, the job I thought I was hired to do was not necessarily the job that I ended up taking. Largely in part to the fact that what we wanted to achieve as an organization had so greatly changed. SOCAN’s Membership Department was going through a metamorphosis of sorts, and moving to not just being our members’ partner in business, but also in creativity.
A partner that benefits our entire music ecosystem by helping creator members get to the next level of their craft, and connecting them to their fellow SOCAN creators and publishers, as well as the greater music community. This is what really excites me about my job and about being with SOCAN. For a large number of people, this means getting to Los Angeles. I am 100% focused on helping our members transition to Los Angeles and continue to be an informational resource, creative and business partner, and more often than not, simply a friendly face once they get here. I’m proud to say that I have a very long list of songwriters, composers and music publishers who have, over the past two years, come here to explore the market and did not feel alone in the process.
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that L.A. is never the city you think it’s going to be. It’s not a concentrated hub like Toronto or New York, where everything is more or less a short Uber drive away. Los Angeles is a massive, spread-out mélange of urban and suburban sprawls. Pockets of scenes for every taste, more often than not existing autonomously from one another with heavy social and economic boundaries. This can make L.A. a very lonely city, and it’s why I tell members to come at least four or five times first within a year before moving, and begin to connect to a social circle, so as not to fall into the L.A. trap door.
It’s for this reason that building our own community has been so important. We have roughly 400 working SOCAN members in the Los Angeles area. They are an eclectic mix of power writers, like Stephan Moccio, Simon Wilcox, Keith Power, Jeff Danna and Henry “Cirkut” Walter; the next wave, such as xSDTRK, Arthur McArthur, Rachel Kennedy, Sophie Rose, Maggie Szabo and Clare Reynolds; and the large number of writers and composers balancing their time between L.A. and Canada, like Jeff Toyne and Laurell. Even listing these names seems silly, because they’re only the tiniest sampling of what I see as being SOCAN Los Angeles.
To foster this community we’ve launched many programs and events over the past two years. Our second annual July 1st Canada Day Family and Friends Bash was a huge success in 2015, and now finds its permanent residence at the beautiful Sunset Marquis Hotel. We also had the occasion of holding our first Los Angeles member town hall meeting the day before, again at the Sunset. The number of connections between local members that came to fruition from just these two events is incredible, and we only see this growing. This past year SOCAN was also a partner with the Canadian Consulate for their annual Pre-Grammy Party, helping celebrate the best and brightest we have to offer.
In the world of creativity, SOCAN moved from not just sponsoring song camps, but launching our own branded annual camp: k?.n?kt. Held in beautiful Nova Scotia, it afforded me the opportunity to travel to Canada and contribute to one of my greatest passions, with our incredible songwriters and artists. Six of the attendees were L.A.-based, and have continued to write together upon their arrival back to Los Angeles.
While all these programs will continue to grow and develop, SOCAN L.A. has no intention of slowing down. Next year we’re going to look into adding a quarterly, local SOCAN showcase to help give a platform of exposure not only to the SOCAN members that are coming down to perform, but also to our L.A.-based members who’ve already taken that leap of faith and so deserve our continued support. Also, for our T.V. and film composer clients, we’re working on the implementation of membership seminars, and mentor sessions with some of our already successful L.A.-based screen composers. These will serve as not only an informational seminar, but also a networking opportunity to press the flesh with music supervisors, agents, producers and directors.
Another thing I’m very proud of these past two years is the new SOCAN House, which has been transformed from a room for rent to a stand-alone, SOCAN-branded apartment where some really great music is being made. Set up for recording, the House is no longer just a bed, but also a workspace, and I’ve been amazed by the talent that has taken advantage of the space. Not only songwriters and composers, but also our music publishing members eager to come expand their business in the L.A. market. Just recently, we had one of our Canadian publishers down to the House, and with our help they had a full week of meetings to share their catalog. Simply put, SOCAN House is a true creative and business hub for our visiting members. Over the next year it’ll be built up even more, as we add more gear and continue to grow all its possibilities.
It’s hard to fit the past two years into a short blog. We’ve come so far as a community of songwriters, producers, composers and music publishers. Additionally, Canada has come so far, and we’re experiencing a revolution in Canadian music. We’re taking over. Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara, Tobias Jesso Jr., The Weeknd, Drake, Magic… the list goes on and on. I’m so proud to be Canadian, and so proud to be running SOCAN Los Angeles.
Always feel free to be a squeaky wheel and reach out to me. I’m always here, and wouldn’t have it any other way.