Canadian Musician - November/December 2021 - Page 40

JENNIFER BROWN ’ S

New Vision for SOCAN

BY MICHAEL RAINE
PHOTO : BRAD ARDLEY
SOCAN CEO JENNIFER BROWN

Though she literally grew up in the music industry , Jennifer Brown ’ s analytical nature likely always destined her for the business side of things . “ If I could wave a magic wand , I would be a songwriter in a heartbeat , but yeah , I always knew I wanted to be in music ,” says the newest CEO of SOCAN . In fact , while she represents a couple firsts for Canada ’ performing rights organization – including its first female CEO and the first employee to be promoted into the role from within the company – it ’ s her familial attachment to its members that she emphasizes .

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“ I mean , there ’ s a lot of accomplished women in the industry , and a lot of deserving women leaders , so I ’ m happy to be amongst that group . But while I ’ m not a music creator , I do know firsthand what it ’ s like to rely on royalties , and I really do think that is something I can bring to this role and that I ’ ve brought to my roles within SOCAN for a number of years . I know what it ’ s like to make a living on royalties and how critical that is to making sure that your life ’ s work is being fairly compensated .”
As she alludes to , Brown comes from a family of professional songwriters and musicians . But more than that , hers is one of most illustrious families in Canadian country music . Her grandfather , Joe Brown , created the Family Brown band in 1967 , which also included her father , Barry Brown , as singer , songwriter , and guitarist . Her aunts , Lawanda and Tracey , also sang in the band and her uncle , Randall Prescott , was its producer and bassist in the later years . The Family Brown were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997 in honour of a remarkable 23-year career . Between 1967 and 1990 , they placed 19 singles in the top-10 of Canada ’ s country music charts , seven songs on the Billboard country charts , won 20 CCMA Awards ( including multiple Album , Single , and Group of the Year honours through the 1980s ), three Juno Awards for Country Group of the Year , and armfuls of RPM Big Country Awards .
In 1995 , while studying business management at Ryerson University in Toronto ( then called Ryerson Polytechnic University ), Brown joined her father at Canadian Music Week where he was participating in a songwriter ’ s panel . While there , she met Lynne Foster , who was leading SOCAN ’ s membership department at the time . “ Please , I ’ ll come work for you in the summer and do whatever you need ,” Brown recalls telling her . The pleading request got Brown in on the ground floor at the company and began her decades-long ascent to the top spot at the PRO .
From that humble entry into SOCAN , over the next two-and-a-half decades , Brown distinguished herself as a driven and intelligent person who both loved and understood the complex industry of music rights , and who was willing to master whatever responsibilities she was tasked with .
“ The ladder that I took was very much like at the playground where you go sideways . I came in through Membership , spent a long time there , then went into some international projects that really helped me truly understand the industry and how the other collectives work and what ’ s going on in other territories ,” she explains . In 2008 she was promoted to director of licensing operations and then VP of licensing in 2011 — a role she remained in until 2017 .
“ That was a really interesting time to be [ working on licensing ], because it was when all