Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes – if it has success”

The FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. But what makes a song text a success? Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with Jean-Martin Büttner

Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes - if it has success”

“Song texts usually don’t work on paper”, says journalist Jean-Martin Büttner (Photo: Dominic Büttner)

Jean-Martin, what do you make of song lyrics including the line “A Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom”?
Jean-Martin Büttner: This is an example for coded song lyrics. “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard secretly deals with black drag queens and sexual practices, at least in its 1955 original version. To understand this, you got to know that the singer had a triple disadvantage: Richard was black, gay and from the South of the USA. The American political scientist, Greil Marcus, explained its amazing effect rather accurately in an interview. Even if they did not understand the lyrics, listeners would still be able to sense from the mere joy of Little Richard’s singing that it was about something naughty. It might sound strange but this is a central part of rock music – not because it says something but because it expresses something.

In its book “AWopBopaLooBopALopBamBoom” which had become a classic in rock literature, Nik Cohn wrote in 1971 that these words “summarised what Rock’n’Roll really was about” rather masterly. He also wrote that Rock’n’Roll lyrics were some sort of a “secret code of teenagers”. Youth culture is, however, subject to constant change. Does this mean that these lyrics are caught in their era?
I believe that this applies to each set of song lyrics and also for many poems. Only the greats such as Shakespeare, Rilke or Dylan can write lyrics which transcend their own era. These lyrics by Little Richard are clearly trapped in its time, albeit because it had to be coded into nonsense in order to escape the censorship of white radio stations. Ironically, this also holds true for explicit, vulgar and drastic hip hop lyrics which don’t omit anything. Calling women champagne bitches and writing hymns about your own sneakers wears off extremely quickly.

What significance has this song text by Little Richard retained?
“Tutti Frutti” is a historic text. But you also have to understand that Nik Cohn had an anti-intellectual attitude vis-a-vis the interpretation of Rock’n’Roll. And that his book was one of the first on rock music. I still love it today because he wrote in such a radical style. Nik Cohn, who was an Irish Jew and thus an outsider from the beginning, wrote sentences such as those according to which there were never proper lyrics in Rock’n’Roll. I believe that he meant this as a provocation but not just that. It was his way of attacking artists such as Dylan or the Beatles which, in his opinion, had ruined Rock’n’Roll with their textual cockiness.

Is the act of ennobling the song lyrics by the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan thus also a loss for the tradition of lyrics that have been pushed “ad absurdum”?
Not at all, luckily there is no institution that decides what is or isn’t a proper song text. Besides, Dylan himself has written surreal lyrics, which might well play on words and are funny but don’t really make any comprehensible sense, such as “Subterranean Homesick Blues” from 1965. In this song, Dylan – who never actually denied it – leans back on Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” – which is not far from Little Richard; Dylan was thus closer to Nik Cohn’s hero as the latter wanted to admit. Dylan even once said that his professional goal was to play piano with Little Richard.

“Poetry is always a vocal art, too. Poets recited their texts as early as in ancient times.”

Nevertheless: Haven’t song lyrics increasingly lost their original character?
Yes, the question for the meaning. I have always rejected the absurd notion that rock music had to remain music for the youth, something it had originally been. It has rather turned out to be a kind of culture which grows with its authors, has aged with them. Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen are or have been relevant way beyond their pension age. Besides, poetry is always a vocal art, too. Poets recited their texts as early as in ancient times.

Little Richard has – not least – provoked, something that has become difficult nowadays …
This gesture has lost its impact long ago. Lady Gaga is a good example as her provocations became such a major part of her marketing. Her final provocation, to show herself without make-up, shows how desperate she has become. Nowadays, it is rather heart-warming that David Bowie triggered a scandal when he said he was homosexual – and it wasn’t even true. Such shock effects, from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson, have worn themselves out completely. The consolation: Good music remains good.

In rock music, the lyrics depend very much on other aspects such as sound or phrasing, and only makes sense because of that. Do lyrics still have the same meaning as they used to have back then?
I don’t cease to be amazed how little attention people pay to the lyrics. It probably has always been that way. In fact, the Beatles mainly wrote trivial lyrics along the lines of “She Loves You”, even though their irony and their lyrical talent would have allowed them to do so much more at the time. It is interesting that especially within the hip hop genre lyrics play a central role, while the music is monotonous and repetitive. What also stands out is the development over the last decades where hip hop is no longer sung or rapped just in English, but, in Switzerland, for example, increasingly in German, Italian and French. In line with this development, it is only logical that the importance of lyrics has increased again. For example Peter Fox (Seeed): His solo album “Stadtaffe” [city monkey] is a hymn dedicated to his home town Berlin – and only because of the German lyrics, Berlin citizens could identify themselves with the song.

“Lyrics aren’t a school subject. It should be left to each individual what they make of the song lyrics.”

This example also shows that the background of a text is sometimes the prerequisite to understand it. But can an author really expect from his audience that it grapples with its song lyrics?
Lyrics aren’t a school subject. It should be left to each individual what they make of the song lyrics. A friend of mine has been a hip hop dance instructor for a long time. She did not realise that the pieces she used often contained misogynist lyrics, as she only played them to provide music for dancing. But that’s ok.
On the other hand, I keep noticing during concerts that due to the lack of knowledge of the lyrics misunderstandings pop up. A classic example which even US-Americans misunderstood is “Born In the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. The piece deals with the fate of Vietnam veterans but is full of ambivalence as it starts with a fanfare and Springsteen is shown on the cover of the album in front of a US flag. Left-wing message, right-wing chorus. Reagan only heard the latter and was enthused, Springsteen distanced himself in a peculiar mumbling manner. The record made him a millionaire.

But doesn’t something from the original message stay on?
Greil Marcus, whom we mentioned earlier, described in his essay why everything that Springsteen sings remains without any consequence. Irrespective of how often the artist sings about a broken family and the poverty in the USA, it was striking that nobody ever responded. This silence was proof that all of his statements remained without effect. How could it be otherwise? I have asked the comedian Eddie Izzard, whether comedy could actually change anything. He said: only politics changes things, that’s why he was standing for Parliament. If you want to change something, you have to change the law.

Writers of song lyrics often say that – by way of their texts – they are trying to trigger an association within their audience so that they can create their own stories from that…
An important role during the 1960s was the fact that black youths listened to James Brown who sang: “Say it loud – I’m black and I’m proud”. That was an instruction to a black identity – telling you that you could be someone who exists, who is important in the USA, because you get a voice – even if you are part of a minority.

He gave people courage to stand tall and self-confident…
Exactly, many song lyrics played an important role for the civil rights movement. Songs have always played an influencing role, also during the movement against the Vietnam War. Why, of all things, was it “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys that became a hymn for the GIs in Vietnam, even though this cover version only contains the story of a quarrel on a ship? Because the chorus says: “Why don’t they let me go home, this is the worst trip I’ve ever been on”. No wonder that this hit the right tone in Vietnam. Or: “Nowhere To Run” by Martha and the Vandellas was phrased as a love song, but became the slogan for left-wing protesters against the government.

A text can also receive a completely new meaning…
An example for this is the piece “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, which has been redefined in South Africa among white and black pupils as a hymn against Apartheid. German cultural scientist, Diedrich Diederichsen once said, pop music was an open channel. The good thing about it: You can do what you like. If the audience decides that a song means this or that, then that’s the way it is.

“One of the most famous examples of a song which didn’t have any meaningful, serious lyrics initially, is ‘Yesterday’ by Paul McCartney. The original text for this song was ‘scrambled eggs, baby I love your hairy legs’.”

Many musicians have expressed themselves against Donald Trump in the last months, but up until his inauguration there were few explicit songs…
The English journalist, Julie Burchill, once wrote that nothing would castrate a political message as efficiently as a pulsing backbeat. Bob Dylan realised this quickly and ceased to create songs pointing fingers, he was well ahead with his thinking. His explicitly political songs such as “Now Ain’t The Time For Your Tears” have aged in a worse manner than his songs which simply state a general unease against the war such as “Masters of War”. I think that great artists don’t think in weeks or years, and that’s why all great political songs are not specific. Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a universal song, especially as humour and irony are added to it – something that protest musicians unfortunately include very rarely.

Many songwriters confess that their lyrics don’t get written until after the music has been completed. How do you explain that?
One of the most famous examples of a song which didn’t have any meaningful, serious lyrics initially, is “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney. The original text for this song was “scrambled eggs, baby I love your hairy legs”. Brian Eno mentioned during his press conference in Geneva last year that the majority of artists sing anything during their rehearsals, some sort of a scat song. From this emerges a chorus or a hook, from which the actual lyrics are developed. Many musicians use this process, for example Bono, or Mick Jagger. Writing lyrics, by the way, is also hard for authors, who are famous for their texts. Randy Newman for one said to me in a conversation that he wrote melodies with more ease than lyrics – the latter were a nightmare.

But aren’t song lyrics often secondary, and only have the purpose to carry the melody?
This can be deceptive as the example of ABBA shows. You could, of course, argue that “I do, I do, I do, I do” does not constitute song lyrics which belong into the Hall of Fame. But “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is a piece which sweetens a bitter message with an enchanting melody. The lyrics are about a divorce and is one of the favourite songs of Elvis Costello. “The Day Before You Came”, the last, desperately sad ABBA single, also combines an excellent set of lyrics with an extremely sad musical piece.

As we all know, many song texts pop up by chance, on the spur of the moment …
The most famous example for a song which practically happened by accident is “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple. To put it simply, the band was watching across the lake, how the casino in Montreux was on fire – and wrote a gripping, but actually rather descriptive song about the event in the blink of an eye. Bob Dylan sometimes falls into such a creative rush, too: He wrote all of his lyrics for “Time Out Of Mind” within two weeks even though the verses are rather long.

This is more the modus operandi of singer songwriters who reduce the story down to the bare minimum. You do, however, sometimes also find the other extreme with them, where the lyrics are basically simply wrapped in music….
You notice that when the lyrics overwhelms the music in such a way that the music becomes a pretext. In the case of a good songwriter like Dylan that’s another matter. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, for example, formulates a cascade of words – and still works because the language becomes an instrument of rhythm. The Beatles-Song penned by John Lennon “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is the opposite of that: Despite its length of nearly eight minutes, it consists of one single sentence with variations. This shows how much freedom you have as a lyricist. There’s a great quotation by Max Frisch: “Anything goes – if it has success”.

«You must stop imagining that lyrics can be read: they don’t usually work on paper, they are dead.»

This could be used as the guideline for song lyrics about love, still the main theme in pop music. A love song can appear clichéd with respect to the choice of words, and yet work magnificently. What makes the difference?
An example how the same text can have a completely different impact depending on instrumentation and interpretation is “I Will Always Love You”. The song has not been written by Whitney Houston but Dolly Parton. And her original version dating back to 1974 is grand, even though the lyrics are incredibly trivial: The recording lives off the performance.

The same song lyrics can also have different meanings in different interpretations…
A good example for this is “You Can Leave Your Hat On” by Randy Newman. In its original version, this love song is lurking, the protagonist a stalker, you get scared of him. In Joe Cocker’s version, however, the song about a sexual offender turns into a hymn for sex and freedom – and as such, it was used for the film “9 1/2 weeks.”

The lyrics of two love songs can be nearly identical regarding the choice of words and yet one can seem corny whereas the other is captivating. Why?
You must stop imagining that lyrics can be read: they don’t usually work on paper, they are dead. One of the reasons for this is that the technique of repetition is important for song lyrics; texts by writers like Nick Cave look absurd on paper.
One of the great exceptions, however, are the song texts by Leonard Cohen. An explanation for this phenomenon is that he wrote three books and two poetry volumes before he entered a studio for the first time. He started playing the guitar because he thought he could reach a wider audience as a consequence. The magic of song lyrics usually appears when being sung, just remember Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike”. His singing imparted a kind of lascivious elegance.

By way of singing the lyrics, it is also possible to break the stereotype of a text or add an ironic note …
Lyle Lovett does exactly the opposite in his song “She’s Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To”. The text in the title is coined by its typical irony but he sang it in a grizzling, absolutely non-ironical sounding country song. What constitutes the breach here is that he performs an unconventional text which is a persiflage on the genre, in a completely conventional style.

The songwriter and producer Roman Camenzind once said that you could write an authentic song text only in your own mother tongue ...
That’s a great thesis, even if there are examples that show that the opposite is true. In the case of Rammstein, I am fascinated by the fact that concert-goers sing along to the German lyrics, even in places like Mexico City or New York. Singer Till Lindemann once told me that the majority would only sing along phonetically and not understand the phonetic implications and play on words of “Du hast” – one of their song titles. English is treacherous in this respect, anyway. It’s like when you play the guitar: You can quickly get to grips with guitar chords, and it sounds alright. But then it gets complicated rather quickly. And that’s what you find in the case of lyrics of authors whose mother tongue isn’t English.

And in Switzerland?
We do have some amazing lyricists such as the songwriters Kutti MC, Endo Anaconda (Stiller Has), Kuno Lauener (Züri West) and Carlos Leal (Sens Unik); The reality in Switzerland is, however, that the dialect is rather restrictive in terms of the audience; the conditions in Germany are completely different.

If you want to live off your music in Switzerland you have to try to find a wider audience with an international language. Is this inevitably at the expense of authenticity?
Yello are a good example that using English can be a success. Dieter Meier has written many lyrics with Dadaistic nonsense, but his English is – regarding the accent and the humour – definitely very Swiss. You also feel how the personalities of the two shine through very strongly, something which creates authenticity. In a special way, the Young Gods are successful because Franz Treichler sings his English lyrics with a French accent; but it is his voice that’s important, not the lyrics. For me, these are the two most important Swiss bands because they have maintained their identity despite their international aura. Bands that sing French lyrics such as Sens Unik have more luck as they have an international language as their mother tongue.

Jean-Martin Büttner (born 1959) grew up bilingual in Basel (German and French). He studied psychology, psychopathology and English in Zurich and wrote his dissertation on “Singers, songs and compulsive words. Rock as a narrative form.” (the book with the original title “Sänger, Songs und triebhafte Rede. Rock als Erzählweise”, published in 1997 is sold out). In the middle of the 1980s, he regularly wrote for the Swiss music magazine Music Scene which was run by the interviewer Markus Ganz at the time. Since 1987, he has been employed by the Swiss daily, Tages-Anzeiger. He works as an editor for the cultural and domestic affairs department and is the daily’s correspondent for the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and Switzerland’s Parliament (Bundeshaus) editor. Since 2010, he has been writing on various subjects, including regular articles on music.
Recognition award for lyricists
FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. Works in all languages will be considered. The entire works of the nominees will be judged, not just individual lyrics. All participants must prove that there is a relationship of their works with the current Swiss music creative scene. It is also possible that third parties nominate candidates. An expert panel will judge the submitted nominations based on the Award regulations. Closing date will be 24 February 2017. Further information, including the regulations and the entry form can be downloaded from the FONDATION SUISA website.
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The FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. But what makes a song text a success? Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with Jean-Martin Büttner

Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes - if it has success”

“Song texts usually don’t work on paper”, says journalist Jean-Martin Büttner (Photo: Dominic Büttner)

Jean-Martin, what do you make of song lyrics including the line “A Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom”?
Jean-Martin Büttner: This is an example for coded song lyrics. “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard secretly deals with black drag queens and sexual practices, at least in its 1955 original version. To understand this, you got to know that the singer had a triple disadvantage: Richard was black, gay and from the South of the USA. The American political scientist, Greil Marcus, explained its amazing...read more

Award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus video

The newcomer Nickless and the renowned producer Thomas Fessler won the first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards 2016. The winning song “Waiting”, jointly composed by the two, didn’t appear out of thin air but is the result of lots of teamwork. At the occasion of the Swiss Music Awards 2017, SUISA will honour the performance of composers and lyricists with an award again.

The first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards was granted to a newcomer and a “veteran”: The 21-year-old Nickless from Zurich, and the producer Thomas Fessler received the award for the jointly composed song “Waiting”.

On top of the necessary inspiration, a lot of work went into the song over a long period of time. “Waiting” reached 14th place in the Swiss single charts in April 2015 and was granted the Swiss Music Award in the category “Best Hit” in 2016.

For the first time, and in collaboration with SUISA, composers and lyricists were honoured in the course of this award category in 2016. By introducing an award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards, the audience would realise that songs don’t appear out of thin air but that a lot of work, heart and soul, said producer Thomas Fessler during an interview. Nickless was particularly happy about the recognition he received for the work as a consequence of receiving the award.

Andreas Wegelin, CEO of SUISA, adds: “Behind every big hit there are composers and lyricists. It is important for SUISA that the work of these authors will be honoured at the Swiss Music Awards.” As a consequence, the award will be granted to the songwriters of the winning title in the category “best hit” in 2017 – for the second time.

The following artists and songs are nominated in the category “best hit” and thus also for the award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Award 2017:

“Angelina”
Composers and lyricists: Andreas “DJ Arts” Christen, Dabu Bucher, Gianluca Giger
Artist: Dabu Fantastic

“Thank You”
Composers and lyricists: Arie Storm, DJ Antoine, Eric Lumière, Fabio “Mad Mark” Antoniali
Artist: DJ Antoine

“Monbijou”
Composers and lyricists: Joachim Piehl, Lucien Spielmann, Manillio
Artist: Manillio

The award for songwriters is granted in the name of SUISA, the Cooperative Society for Music Authors and Publishers at the occasion of the Swiss Music Award ceremonies on 10 February 2017 in the Hallenstadion in Zurich.

Nickless, website
571 Recording Studios, website
Swiss Music Awards, website

SUISA is a member of the Press Play association. The association, founded in 2012, is official sponsor of the Swiss Music Awards.

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The newcomer Nickless and the renowned producer Thomas Fessler won the first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards 2016. The winning song “Waiting”, jointly composed by the two, didn’t appear out of thin air but is the result of lots of teamwork. At the occasion of the Swiss Music Awards 2017, SUISA will honour the performance of composers and lyricists with an award again.

The first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards was granted to a newcomer and a “veteran”: The 21-year-old Nickless from Zurich, and the producer Thomas Fessler received the award for the jointly composed song “Waiting”.

On top of the necessary inspiration, a lot of work went into the song over a long period of time. “Waiting” reached 14th place in the Swiss single charts in...read more

SUISA Board meeting: Collections, budget and sponsoring for classical music

Four times each year, SUISA Board members gather in committee and plenary meetings. Some of the agenda items are recurring at a set date each year: In spring, the annual accounts for the past financial year is an important issue. In December, the budget for the following year is set. Additional topics arise from the course of business such as changes to the distribution rules, details on tariff negotiations or the cooperation with other organisations. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller and Manu Leuenberger

SUISA Board meeting: Collections, budget and sponsoring for classical music

Snapshot of a concert with works by Claude Vivier and Karlheinz Stockhausen during the last Archipel festival in Geneva: In 2017, SUISA is going to carry out a sponsoring project together with the festival organisers. (Photo: Raphaëlle Mueller)

Budget control is one of the fixed items on the agenda for the Committee for Finance and Controlling. A review of the figures relating to the current financial year during the October 2016 Board meetings showed a positive trend: As at 31 August 2016, collections were higher than budgeted figures, and expenses stayed within the budget.

The Chairman of the Board Committee in charge expressed his satisfaction at the positive development of the total domestic collections and the fact that they surpassed both the budget and the income from the previous year. Said trend had already emerged in the report on the current financial year presented to the General Assembly in June.

Current financial year satisfactory so far

With regards to broadcasting rights (CHF 44.6m), the new Tariff S (private broadcasters) had a favourable effect. As to performing rights (CHF 33.4m), it was mainly due to Tariff E (cinemas) and CT 3a (background entertainment) that such good results were achieved. Reproduction rights, however, failed to meet expectations (CHF 4.2m), and thus reflected the respective market conditions.

Compensation claims increased (CHF 5.3m) – also due to the blank media levy for smartphones (Tariff CT 4e). While less devices were actually sold, bigger data storage capacities contributed to the increase of collections. The relevant trend in the online sector (CHF 4.6m) also matches the marketplace tendency: Income from streaming usage increased while that from downloads decreased.

However, the year hasn’t come to an end yet. Irregular payment receipts, appeals regarding tariff negotiation processes or market trends are factors that SUISA can hardly influence. Nevertheless, Board Directors and Management are confident that the budgeted numbers will be reached, maybe even exceeded by the end of 2016.

Sponsoring involvement planned for the classical music sector

During the Board Committee for Organisation and Communication, SUISA’s sponsoring involvement for 2017 were discussed. SUISA usually does not participate in many sponsoring opportunities as a rule. SUISA usually pursues a specific purpose when getting involved.

The main intention is to raise awareness for composers’ creations and to anchor cultural and economic values of such creative work into public perception. Furthermore, sharing copyright knowledge and informing the public about SUISA’s activities are primary purposes of sponsoring involvements. In such cases, specific projects are usually chosen where compositions, SUISA and copyright can be used as concrete topics for discussion at events and special occasions.

As such, a new SUISA involvement in sponsoring is planned to be for the classical music sector. The Board of Directors welcomed this initiative. A cooperation project with the Archipel Festival is planned for 2017. The festival for contemporary music creation shall take place between 24 March and 2 April 2017 in Geneva.

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Four times each year, SUISA Board members gather in committee and plenary meetings. Some of the agenda items are recurring at a set date each year: In spring, the annual accounts for the past financial year is an important issue. In December, the budget for the following year is set. Additional topics arise from the course of business such as changes to the distribution rules, details on tariff negotiations or the cooperation with other organisations. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller and Manu Leuenberger

SUISA Board meeting: Collections, budget and sponsoring for classical music

Snapshot of a concert with works by Claude Vivier and Karlheinz Stockhausen during the last Archipel festival in Geneva: In 2017, SUISA is going to carry out a sponsoring project together with the festival organisers. (Photo: Raphaëlle Mueller)

Budget control is one of the fixed items on the...read more

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

Dear members, the Swiss Federal Council launched the consultation for a draft to review copyright in December 2015. The draft followed the recommendations by AGUR12. However, further proposals were added from the administration and as a result of parliamentary initiatives. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

SUISA continues the fight for copyright and is getting ready for the digital future at the same time: Together with the US-American collective management organisation, SESAC, it founded Mint Digital Licensing, a joint venture issuing online licences. (Photo: ScandinavianStock / Shutterstock)

The draft was welcomed with keen interest, reflected by as many as 1,224 statements submitted during the consultation process. Unfortunately, they highlighted the fundamental differences in opinion. Something that had been expected: There are inherent risks when moving away from the compromise of the AGUR 12 (a working group on copyright that had been set up by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in 2012) in the context of an issue as disputed as copyright.

Copyright review: The devil is in the detail

At the end of 2016, Ms Sommaruga asked the same working group to transfer their suggestions into legislative provisions and, where necessary, submit further compromise proposals. It probably was the best that could have been done, even though another option could have been to instruct an expert committee with such editorial tasks: As we all know, the devil is in the detail …

Furthermore, a neutral expert committee could have increased the legitimacy of the proposals of AGUR12. But SUISA which is represented in the working group, will join into this second round.

Cooperation with the American organisation SESAC

Given the circumstances, the plan of a stricter Federal supervision on collective management organisations is not likely to be pursued further. This is good news. After all, the future is digital, and the rights management for online usages of music follows competition rules at the instigation of the European Union.

SUISA takes the new circumstances into account and has created a joint venture, Mint Digital Licensing, together with the American organisation SESAC. Yes, dear members, your eyes didn’t deceive you: The rightsholders in the USA are interested in SUISA’s know-how and the technology so that they can manage their rights in Europe! This implies investments, innovative spirit, additional responsibility and all the risks that a free market entails. Any interference by the government would not have been appropriate in this context.

Yet, the fight for the copyright review can be expected to get tougher. We will have to prove to the market and to consumers that collective management organisations do not just claim money from them. We must show that we create the necessary legal certainty by enabling them to acquire the rights in a simple process and at a fair price for all. The fight has not been won yet – but it’s worth being fought!

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Sustainable growth for members Cooperative societies excel by their solid economic activities. This is also true for SUISA. The cooperative society for composers, lyricists and publishers of music has slightly increased its income in 2015. SUISA pays out approx. 88% of its income to the rightsholders. That’s a total of CHF 125m. The cooperative society thus makes a substantial contribution to the financial livelihood of its members. Below is an analysis of the annual result. Read more
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Dear members, the Swiss Federal Council launched the consultation for a draft to review copyright in December 2015. The draft followed the recommendations by AGUR12. However, further proposals were added from the administration and as a result of parliamentary initiatives. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

SUISA continues the fight for copyright and is getting ready for the digital future at the same time: Together with the US-American collective management organisation, SESAC, it founded Mint Digital Licensing, a joint venture issuing online licences. (Photo: ScandinavianStock / Shutterstock)

The draft was welcomed with keen interest, reflected by as many as 1,224 statements submitted during the consultation process. Unfortunately, they highlighted the fundamental differences in opinion. Something that had been expected: There are inherent risks when moving away from the compromise of the AGUR 12 (a...read more

“If I had made a movie with African music, I would have been freer.”

The Swiss composer Niki Reiser received the CHF 25,000 Film Music Prize of the FONDATION SUISA in the course of the International Film Festival in Locarno. The prize was awarded to him for the film score accompanying Alain Gsponer’s film version of “Heidi”. The composition process for this film score has been a particular challenge for Reiser. The themes “Heidi” and “Switzerland” were rather inhibitive than inspiring in the beginning, as he tells us in an interview.

“If I had made a movie with African music, I would have been freer.”

For the third time, Niki Reiser (in the middle) received the FONDATION SUISA Film Music Prize on 7 August at the occasion of the International Film Festival in Locarno. (f.l.t.r.) Mario Beretta (President of the Jury for the Film Music Prize), prize winner Niki Reiser and Urs Schnell (Director FONDATION SUISA). (Photo: Otto B. Hartmann)

Niki, you won the FONDATION SUISA Film Music Prize for the third time for the soundtrack to “Heidi”. What kind of thoughts crossed your mind first when you heard about this?
I was really happy, of course. In 2001, I received my first award from the FONDATION SUISA. The fact that I still provide quality 16 years later and won a prize with it, has made me very content. It’s a confirmation that I am still a part of the game. And it also means a lot to me that such a competent jury has chosen to award me.

Film composers are usually in the background. The public mainly knows about the actors and directors. Is it important to you that your creations become more known by receiving such awards?
Of course, that is a lovely effect. However, it means much more to me if the audience comes to me after a movie and tell me how the music particularly stood out to them. The fact that people perceive the music in films, that’s more important to me. There is a saying: “You don’t notice good film score”. It is my aim to make people notice film music without it pushing too much into the foreground. The award is now a bit like the icing on the cake. And the great thing about it is that people come to me again and tell me: “The music in this film was really great.” Music was thus not just in the background.

You have also performed on stage as a flute artist in various formations, and thus played your compositions live in front of an audience. Do you miss the direct feedback from the audience?
Yes, I rather miss the opportunity to develop my own pieces and interpret them anew each evening. With film music, that’s different: Once it has been recorded and mixed, it cannot be changed. In the case of live music, you can change a piece, depending on the changing times – that’s something I do rather miss. On the other hand, you are restricted when you play in bands, by the predetermined themes, whereas that is not the case for film music. Each film has a different theme.

In your acceptance speech during the award ceremony, you mentioned how difficult the process of composing was for you. What was special about said process? How did you approach composing said film music?
What was special for me was the fact that the themes “Heidi” and “Switzerland” initially inhibited rather than inspired me. Besides, you are always more critical vis-a-vis your own creations and quickly jump to the conclusion whether “something works and something else doesn’t.” You restrict yourself. If I had made a movie with African music, I would have been freer, as the topic wouldn’t have been so close to me. And the beginning was the hardest. The film starts with a flying scene. The goal: “Now you have to create something light, airborne.” In moments like these, I shut off, as this is a huge challenge from naught to sixty. The core of the music only emerged through constant trial and error.

So you did get specific instructions how the film score was supposed to sound?
Not what it should sound like, but the effects it should have. The music should have had some lightness and elements of hovering. At the same time, it was supposed to express a longing, yet have something healing about it. The more adjectives you have in your head, the less musical ideas will come to you. It usually only works once the rational thinking stops and you start making music. It is via making music that I discovered film music.

Childrens’ films, sentimental films with a regional character, and nice images of the Alpine world – don’t you get tempted to fall back on existing musical clichés?
Of course, the images are really rather out of this world. If I had composed a typical Swiss music to accompany them, it really could have turned into some form of a commercial film. That is why we have decided not to use a typically happy Swiss major key. While I think Swiss melodies are rather nice, I did not want to write a folklore song. By using the minor keys, we reached a more dramatic effect. Heidi, is, after all, a drama, not just a childrens’ film.

There are many film versions of Heidi. There are also some well-known Heidi film melodies. The majority of people in Switzerland thus have a connection – even a musical one – with Heidi. Did this also influence your work?
No. I have, on purpose, not watched any older Heidi films. On the one hand, so that I would not be influenced. On the other hand, so that I would not obstruct myself: It is possible that you don’t do something just because someone else has already done it. I have told the story based on the Heidi character. This means: The music accompanies the emotions of Heidi and reflects her current emotional state. It is thus more an emotional, and not a Swiss story. I have tried to set the music so as if a child is enjoying its very emotions in a moment.

You have composed music for a film for the first time 30 years ago. In the meantime, technology has changed dramatically. How has this influenced your work style when you compose?
It had no influence on my work for Heidi; I have recorded each instrument live and not used any sound generating technology. In the case of other films, especially smaller projects, my work style has changed. I can now record the music in my home and arrange it from there. That way, I can execute the entire film production at home. My way of composing, however, has not changed due to technological developments. The goal is still to search for themes and sounds. Compared to composition, the dialogue process with the cutters’ workplace has changed. If I have composed something, I can send entire files with images via internet and about half an hour later discuss them with people sitting at the cutter’s table via skype. In the past, I had to send the tapes in the post. It took a week until the material arrived and another 3 to 4 days until the director sent their reaction. Communication speed has definitely increased. This does, however, also entail some negative aspects: Back in the day when everything was not digital yet, you had more time to develop something. Nowadays, everything is faster. This means: Ideas also have to be created faster.

You have been a SUISA member since 1986. What are the membership benefits for you as a composer?
I can rely on the fact that I receive a basic income. Well it is actually my main income. I could not live from the films themselves, the fees I receive for them, directly. It’s the royalties that guarantee that the balance sheet works out at the end of each year. Some colleagues say to me that I ought to change over to GEMA because many of my works are shown in Germany. I am not sure whether I would ever change. SUISA isn’t such a huge institution; people can therefore react more quickly.

Niki Reiser was born in Reinach, AG, in 1958 and grew up in Basel. He found his access to music by playing the flute and already started as a teenager to compose works for various bands and musical formations. Once he did his A-levels, he studied jazz and classical compositions with a focus on film scores at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston (USA). Especially due to his long-term collaboration with the directors Dani Levy and Caroline Link, Niki Reiser managed to become a household name on the German and international film stage. He has received the German Film Prize five times for his works. Niki Reiser lives and works in his hometown, Basel. (Text: FONDATION SUISA) www.nikireiser.de
The FONDATION SUISA Film Music Prize carries a value of CHF 25,000. It honours extraordinary performances in the sector of film music composition and its aim is to support prize winners and increase their popularity at home and abroad. The prize is awarded each year at the Festival del film in Locarno, alternating between the categories feature film and documentary film.
The jury for the FONDATION SUISA Film Music Prize
• President: Mario Beretta (Stage and film music composer, Zurich)
• Jürg von Allmen (Sound engineer, Digiton Tonstudio, Zurich)
• André Bellmont (Composer, conductor, lecturer at the Zurich University for the Arts, Zurich (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste))
• David Fonjallaz (Film producer, Lomotion AG, Berne)
• Zeno Gabaglio (Composer and artist, Vacallo)
• Corinne Rossi (Managing Director, Praesens-Film AG, Zurich)
• Yvonne Söhner (Production Director Baloise Session, Music Festival Basel, Ehrendingen)
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The Swiss composer Niki Reiser received the CHF 25,000 Film Music Prize of the FONDATION SUISA in the course of the International Film Festival in Locarno. The prize was awarded to him for the film score accompanying Alain Gsponer’s film version of “Heidi”. The composition process for this film score has been a particular challenge for Reiser. The themes “Heidi” and “Switzerland” were rather inhibitive than inspiring in the beginning, as he tells us in an interview.

“If I had made a movie with African music, I would have been freer.”

For the third time, Niki Reiser (in the middle) received the FONDATION SUISA Film Music Prize on 7 August at the occasion of the International Film Festival in Locarno. (f.l.t.r.) Mario Beretta (President of the Jury for the Film Music Prize), prize winner Niki Reiser and Urs Schnell (Director FONDATION SUISA). (Photo: Otto B. Hartmann)

Niki,...read more

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

The preliminary draft by the Swiss Federal Council for a review of the Swiss Copyright Act was not able to carry a majority during the consultation. The Federal Councillor in charge, Simonetta Sommaruga, has therefore called upon a working group again. AGUR12 II is asked to work out specific legislative proposals alongside the compromise that had been achieved by AGUR12 and been in place for more than 2 years. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

Back to square 1: The working group for copyright convenes again. Specific legislative proposals for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act are expected to be tabled by the end of 2016. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the leading countries involved in the process to anchor copyright for authors at international level. The Berne Convention of 1879 was the first international Treaty on copyright. Today, nothing is left of the pioneering role Switzerland once held.

Quite the contrary: The existing Swiss copyright law was enacted after 30-year-long discussions upon the pressure by the USA on 01 July 1993. Important trade agreements with the USA would otherwise not have been possible to implement. A similar situation occurred during the partial review of the Act in 2006.

An adaptation of the copyright law to technological developments is now due. The European Union has also been holding discussions on this topic for a while. On 14 September 2016, the European Commission has tabled a proposal for a directive on copyright in the digital single market. In the EC directive, current problems such as “liability of internet service providers” were addressed at least.

Review of the Swiss Copyright Act 2011 launched

In Switzerland, the progress made by the review of the Copyright Act and the alignment of the legislative provisions to the current exploitation forms in the digital world has been rather sluggish. To recap: The trigger for the current conversations on an update of the Swiss Copyright Act had been the reply by the Federal Council in August 2011 to a Postulate by the Ständerätin (Councillor for the Council of Cantons) Géraldine Savary.

At the time, the Federal Council was of the opinion that Existing legal provisions would satisfy current options for digital usage. Authors would have to exploit the existing legal possibilities more thoroughly and equalise their lost income from internet piracy by other means: for example by giving more live concerts, in order to offset the lower income from sales of sound recordings.

This type of reply led to an outcry among the rightsholders. Known authors and musicians, specifically from the rock/pop sector, joined forces under the umbrella of the powerful association “Music Creators Switzerland”. The producer associations Audiovision Schweiz and IFPI founded the “Alliance against internet piracy”, together with the collective management organisations and other partners.

The AGUR12 Compromise

Federal Councillor Sommaruga finally gave in to the concerted demands for measures to be taken: In the summer of 2012, she initiated the working group copyright 2012. The “AGUR12” had the following task: “Show options to align copyright law with the technological developments. These include identifying and remedying of usage limitations and competitive barriers, guaranteeing a fair and adequate remuneration for the usage of content protected by copyright and the fight against piracy. On the other hand, collective management must be evaluated in terms of identifying areas for increasing efficiency and lowering costs.”

At the end of 2013, AGUR12 closed their project with recommendations which were carried by all participants. One could thus call it an “AGUR12 compromise”. The demand for implementing the recommendations remained an evident topic for the Federal Council: Subsequently, various circles submitted proposals to the parliament which were answered by the Federal Council referring to the impending legal review and thus postponed to a later date.

Preliminary draft and consultation

In December 2015, the Federal Council presented a preliminary draft for the legal review, which entered the consultation process until the end of March 2016. What was particularly bothersome with this preliminary draft was the fact that while it followed the recommendations of AGUR12, further proposals from administration itself had been added; for example, a more extensive and stricter supervision over collective management organisations. SUISA replied with an extensive statement and provided specific wordings for improving the legislative text.

More than 1,200 statements and opinions were submitted during the consultation process. Those from libraries and archives (about 400) all have the same message. They demand simple possibilities to make their archives accessible. When it comes to rights exploitation issues, they blame the collective management organisations for any difficulties that arise in this context. It is, however, the latter who enable certain usages by bundling rights together.

AGUR12 II initiated

The Federal Councillor in charge had to realise this summer that the consultation draft was coming under fire from all corners and was still far away from a solution carried by the majority. She therefore wishes to offer the affected parties to find a solution that can be carried before the Federal Council can decide on the next steps in the legislative process.

On 30 August 2016, Federal Councillor Sommaruga thus initiated the working group AGUR12 II. The working group has now got additional stakeholders, representing the interests of internet providers and experts from the Federal Office for Justice. AGUR12 II is thus tasked with working out specific legislative proposals in line with the compromises determined by AGUR12, which have been in place for more than 2 years now.

The new AGUR12II has, in the meantime, started with its activities. In the first meeting, it became apparent that the members deal with the different interests and positions in a focussed and constructive manner. As a consequence, further sub-groups were created with the aim to prepare specific legislative proposals in a smaller but representative circle. The results are expected to be ready by the end of 2016.

Legal review thrown back by 30 months

Collective management organisations are active on behalf of authors within the AGUR12 II working group. Their representatives hold the necessary legal knowledge in order to formulate legislative provisions. A modernised copyright with fair framework conditions for rightsholders is one of the core aims of the Cooperative Society for Authors and Publishers of Music: SUISA readily offers its expert knowledge and collaborates actively in the working group.

By initiating the AGUR12 II working group, the copyright legislation review in Switzerland has been set back by 30 months. Back to square 1, where AGUR12 finished with its recommendations at the end of 2013. One can’t help but get the impression that the government’s ideas on trade and agricultural policies are clearer than those on copyright. That is a real shame, even more so when Switzerland, as a veritable nation of culture, once excelled as a pioneer of the rights for the protection of authors.

Related articles
Copyright: Quo vadis? In December 2015, the Federal Council presented the draft for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act. At the same time, the consultation started, which is open until March 2016. SUISA supports the proposed measures inasmuch as they have been taken from the compromise agreement reached by the working group on copyright (AGUR12). SUISA has been contributing to said working group which had been summoned by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in 2012, consisting of affected parties. Read more
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The preliminary draft by the Swiss Federal Council for a review of the Swiss Copyright Act was not able to carry a majority during the consultation. The Federal Councillor in charge, Simonetta Sommaruga, has therefore called upon a working group again. AGUR12 II is asked to work out specific legislative proposals alongside the compromise that had been achieved by AGUR12 and been in place for more than 2 years. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

Back to square 1: The working group for copyright convenes again. Specific legislative proposals for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act are expected to be tabled by the end of 2016. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the leading countries involved in the process to anchor copyright for authors at international level. The Berne...read more

Interim review on hit boxes, three years after their introduction

After a two-year test phase, hit box monitoring has been the basis for the distribution of remuneration for music on sound recordings since January 2014. Now, a first review can be made regarding this new system, both in relation to the data collected and the reactions of the members and owners of the clubs in question. Text by Nicolas Pont

Interim review on hit boxes, three years after their introduction

Verified by hit box monitoring: “Jung verdammt” by Lo &Leduc has been played more often in Swiss clubs during 2015 than Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”. (Photo: Luca Monachesi)

The aim of the revision of distribution category 12 which is affected by the hit boxes, as well the functionality of such devices have been explained in SUISAinfo 3.13 (in German, PDF, 730 KB). Just to clarify: Hit boxes are mainly used for the distribution of the copyright royalties relating to dance and entertainment events inside (discotheques) and outside of the hospitality industry (fairs, street festivals) i.e. at events where music is important but is not the only reason stated for attending.

If a DJ performs at a concert, the distribution shall be made, just like before, based on the programmes that are submitted by the artists and then forwarded by the organisers to SUISA. This also applies to festivals with electronic music such as the Electron Festival in Geneva. In total, about CHF 6m are distributed for entertainment events live and sound recording music per annum, arising from 13 different tariffs. The distribution for sound recording music is made on the basis of a data analysis by Yacast, a French system provider.

Aim of the hit boxes: a fair distribution of the remuneration to authors and publishers

For a representative selection of clubs which takes the different music genres and linguistic regions of the country into consideration, statisticians from the University of Zurich were involved. During the initial phase of installation, some club owners had reservations regarding the hit boxes. In the meantime, however, these reservations have mostly subsided. Admittedly, occasional technical problem during installation or maintenance of the hit boxes. Cables that do no longer work, or have accidentally been removed can be the cause for problems.

Other initial fears could be allayed or rebutted: In the beginning, some assumed that the box would also record personal conversations and thus could be manipulated to record the music of a smartphone instead of the music actually played in the discotheque. Verifications of test recordings showed, however, that private conversations cannot be heard. Furthermore, an external ambient microphone fixed to the hit box serves the purpose to prove the matching between the music recorded and the music that was actually played in the club.

The openness of the club owners vis-a-vis the hit boxes has to be applauded. Especially places where niche music is being played, help promoting local artists with such hit box installations and challenges those who accuse the monitoring system to favour majors and so-called mainstream music. The aim to allocate the collections as fairly as possible to the authors of the played music can be reached by selecting the most representative clubs possible, where monitoring takes place.

Detection rate above 95%

Yacast has committed itself by contract to guarantee a specific detection rate. This aspect was also thoroughly verified during the test phase. Since the hit boxes have been introduced two years ago, the detection rate rose to 96% in 2014 and to 97% in 2015. Furthermore, a system was introduced which provides members who doubt the recognition of their works with a direct access to the database of Yacast so that they can upload their audio files. In order to be able to do so, you need to register here.

Several members and users wanted to know the criteria upon which the venues had been selected where a hit box was installed. They also asked for a list of such venues. SUISA was not able to satisfy this request. It has to be able to guarantee that the monitoring system cannot be manipulated. If the places where such hit boxes are installed were to become known, there is a possibility that performance venues could be selected and targeted based on these details. As a consequence, the representative character of the data and thus the distribution of the collections would be manipulated. It is not the aim to avoid transparency or to mask the data, but to guarantee a confidentiality which is indispensable for the smooth functioning of the system.

Nevertheless, the following details can be provided: In 2014 and 2015, 43, resp. 45 of the approx. 500 clubs and discotheques in Switzerland were equipped with a hit box. The recordings are not made on a continuous basis but at alternating points in time, which are not evident due to the installation in the club to anyone. The varying times of the recordings and recognition is another measure to ensure that the system cannot be manipulated. An average of 6,000 hours of music are recorded each year, and were allocated to nearly 30,000 works.

Lo & Leduc beat Beyoncé!

The Swiss is a music import country, SUISA distributes about half of its collections to rightsholders abroad. When SUISA decided to begin a distribution based on the hit boxes, it was acutely aware of the fact that this tendency could be confirmed. It was, in fact, the case, but to a much lesser degree than anticipated, and with a few surprises in waiting. One example is the title “Jung verdammt” by the Berne band Lo & Leduc, exclusively consisting of SUISA members. This title was among the ten most played titles and was way ahead of Beyoncé’s «Crazy in love».

One of the reasons for using the hit boxes is that the old system, based on programme reports, led to misuse and also had gaps. Reports had previously been submitted concerning music events in clubs which had ceased their operations many months before. That way, a significant share of collections went into the pockets of rightsholders that may have been SUISA members, but only authors ‘on paper’ – at the detriment of those artists – including Swiss artists – whose works were actually played.

The hit boxes cannot be installed all over Switzerland due to financial considerations, and it is possible, that certain performances cannot be captured. Thanks to today’s system, there is more information available than there was with the manual reports of DJ programmes in the past. The remuneration can thus be distributed in a fairer way. In addition, the previously high costs for “manual” handling of data can be reduced.

Today, where each customer can use their smartphone to recognise titles and artists of works played in a disco, it is no longer contemporary and plausible to base the distribution of copyright remuneration on paper reports. Even more so, when the collective management organisations explicitly demand the development of electronic processing systems, in particular in the context of the copyright review.

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New distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level. Read more
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After a two-year test phase, hit box monitoring has been the basis for the distribution of remuneration for music on sound recordings since January 2014. Now, a first review can be made regarding this new system, both in relation to the data collected and the reactions of the members and owners of the clubs in question. Text by Nicolas Pont

Interim review on hit boxes, three years after their introduction

Verified by hit box monitoring: “Jung verdammt” by Lo &Leduc has been played more often in Swiss clubs during 2015 than Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”. (Photo: Luca Monachesi)

The aim of the revision of distribution category 12 which is affected by the hit boxes, as well the functionality of such devices have been explained in SUISAinfo 3.13 (in German, PDF, 730 KB). Just to clarify: Hit boxes are mainly used for the distribution...read more

New distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights

The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

8/12 for authors, 4/12 for publishers: SUISA will adapt its distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights to European standards again. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

The majority of SUISA’s European sister societies apply the so-called “CISAC key” when it comes to originally published works in the performing and broadcasting rights sector. CISAC is the international umbrella for collective management organisations (Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs). The shares of the distribution key recommended by the umbrella organisation for performances and broadcasts amount to 66.67% for authors and 33.33% for publishers.

SUISA’s distribution key

SUISA’s distribution key had deviated from the internationally established CISAC standard in the past. Up to now, SUISA distribution rules provided that the shares for originally published works for performing and broadcasting rights was 65% for authors and a maximum of 35% for publishers. Regarding the production of sound and audio-visual recordings, the composers receive 60% and the publishers 40%.

In the case of works with a sub-publisher, the author has an entitlement as per the distribution rules to receive 50%, and the publisher and sub-publisher to claim the remaining 50% for performances and broadcasts. Regarding the production of sound and audio-visual recordings, the composers receive 40% and the publisher and sub-publisher share the remaining 40%. In this context, it is worth mentioning that SUISA usually adopts the contractually agreed split between the publisher and the sub-publisher in the case of sub-published works. Only in the absence of such agreed splits will SUISA apply the keys established by the distribution rules.

Alignment with the European CISAC standard

The distribution keys by SUISA will now be adapted in the case of originally published works in the performing and broadcasting rights to European standards. The keys relating to the production of sound and audio-visual recordings (mechanical reproduction rights) shall remain unchanged in the distribution rules. Strictly speaking, the application of the CISAC key of 67% for authors and 33.33% for publishers is nothing new, but rather a re-introduction of a previous provision.

The key applied on a Europe-wide level is actually expressed in fractions 8/12 (author’s share) resp. 4/12 (publisher’s share). When SUISA began working with IT systems back in 1962, the aim was to avoid decimal places after the decimal point. As a consequence, SUISA changed the key, and rounded it to 65%, resp. 35%. The majority of the other European societies kept the translated fractions i.e. 66.67% and 33.33%.

Effects of the changed distribution rules

Thanks to the adaptation of the distribution keys, authors will be remunerated with the share that is deemed as standard in the European area. While the publisher share will be decreased by 1.67%, they will, together with the authors, benefit from positive effects which the changes bring about.

Apart from the harmonisation with other European societies, the (re)introduction of the CISAC key for originally published works entails further significant advantages:

  • Important increase in efficiency during work registration: Processing of SUISA works with international contributors will become simpler. Difficult conversions in the case of joint productions with international authors become redundant.
  • Processing distributions of the sister societies will be significantly simplified: The matching distribution keys will facilitate the processing of distributions by international sister societies to a great extent.

Validity of the changes to the distribution rules

Both the SUISA Board of Directors as well as the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) have agreed to this change. The new distribution keys will come into force from 01 January 2017 without any retroactivity. This means, that all works declared after 01 January 2017 will be registered with the new distribution key. In the case of works that had been registered before that date, the distribution key in place shall remain valid. These works will not be changed.

The decision of the IPI dated 28 July 2016 is published at the SUISA website.

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The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

8/12 for authors, 4/12 for publishers: SUISA will adapt its distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights to European standards again. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

The majority of SUISA’s European sister societies apply the so-called “CISAC key” when it comes to originally published works in the performing and broadcasting rights sector. CISAC is the international umbrella for collective management organisations (Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs). The shares of the distribution key recommended by the...read more

This beating heart

On Tuesday, 25 October 2016, in the evening, his heart stopped beating: Pädu Anliker, the “Master of Ceremony” in the Café/Bar Mokka Thun was 59 years old. For over 30 years, Beat “Pädu” Anliker shaped the venue which started out as a youth centre at the Waisenhausplatz and became one of the most renowned music clubs on Allmendstrasse in Switzerland. Obituary by guest author Christoph Trummer

This beating heart - Obituary Pädu Anliker

Under the leadership of the “Master of Ceremony”, an important concert venue was created in the form of the Café/Bar Mokka in Thun: Pädu Anliker shown in a photo taken on 07 April 2015. (Photo: Chris Iseli / az Aargauer Zeitung)

Since Pädu Anliker’s passing on became known, a wave of emotional obituaries and remembrances of the MC and his incomparable club swept through the internet. The music scene became one family: We have lost our extravagant and controversial favourite uncle. He never cozied up to us, sometimes he scared us, but his incessant work, his cordial hospitality and his confusing and fascinating authenticity were proof enough for how strongly and wildly his heart was beating for us and for the music. Against all the odds, his culture programme never had to make place for a more lucrative party, and with his Festival am Schluss, he placed relevant and often non-conformist music into the middle of a conservative summer in the city.

I was 15 when our band had its first gig outside a school hall during the Mokka-Regionaltonwoche (Mokka regional sound week). 12 years after my first performance there, many Mokka concerts later, I have received my first compliment from MC Anliker. This is how long I was given another chance. Me and so many other musicians from the Oberland, whom he provided with time, a stage and critical input for their development.

Yet Pädu’s Mokka was more than just a music club to us. Generations of people from the Oberland region with a lust for life found a home in this youth centre which was independent from the authorities. The MC influenced the education of our hearts: He was the living proof for self-fulfilment as self-development. “Respect” was written across the entrance. Quiet, when the band is playing! Stop smoking seeds! He argued that 80 Francs for fresh flowers provided a bigger de-escalation than 800 Francs for security.

When it came to his customers and his city, he also never cozied up to anyone. In his legendary programme forewords, he sometimes raged against “3,600 fuckthistown-Thun”, against a consumption-driven audience, without regard for the bourgeois orthography or current marketing rules, which is why we feared as long as 20 years ago that he might stop doing his thing.

But he didn’t. The MC, you could say, simply worked with an open valve. You just had to be prepared for that, even as a performing band. He once swore for a quarter of an hour about the fact that we didn’t just want to use the drums with two microphones, yet at the end of those 15 minutes, everything was miked up. After a great gig we sat backstage, holding a rather relaxed discussion about the types of potatoes in Switzerland. Later on, his eyes lit up when he pulled out a box with flyers and tapes showing us how the entire music prominence from the Oberland had, at some point in time, started their career in some giddy band with an awful name in the Mokka.

Even the city of Thun has made peace with its inconvenient original: On 1 November, MC Anliker would have been awarded the Thunpreis (Award of the city of Thun). And while we will continue to wish he was still there, his heart will keep beating, in his unique club, in our hearts and our music, for which he did so much and where his work left such deep marks. Thank you MC! Respect.

Beat “Pädu” Anliker shaped the Lokal Café/Bar Mokka in Thun (BE) for more than 30 years, throughout its transformation from a youth centre at the Waisenhausplatz to one of the most renowned music clubs on Allmendstrasse in Switzerland. Anliker, with his flamboyant make-up and his glamorous-unconventional fashion was also a city original of Thun. Thousands of national and international bands have played in the Mokka, and some chose Pädu as their event organiser for Thun, when the club had become far too small for them (Element Of Crime, ZüriWest, Patent Ochsner etc.). Over the last 11 years, he has also organised the Festival am Schluss on the Mühleplatz, where bands from all over the world performed for two weeks, from African desert blues to Swiss-German hip hop. Beat Anliker died at the age of 59 because of a cardiac arrest on 25 October 2016. On 1 November 2016, he will be awarded posthumously with the Thunpreis, the most important award granted by the city of Thun.

Guest author Christoph Trummer was born in 1978 and grew up in Frutigen (BE). He has been a member of SUISA since 2002. The singer-songwriter is, apart from his musical activities, also President of the Verein Musikschaffende Schweiz – the Association for creatives in Switzerland.

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  1. Waedi Gysi says:

    Merssiviumal Trummer!
    Schöner Text!

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On Tuesday, 25 October 2016, in the evening, his heart stopped beating: Pädu Anliker, the “Master of Ceremony” in the Café/Bar Mokka Thun was 59 years old. For over 30 years, Beat “Pädu” Anliker shaped the venue which started out as a youth centre at the Waisenhausplatz and became one of the most renowned music clubs on Allmendstrasse in Switzerland. Obituary by guest author Christoph Trummer

This beating heart - Obituary Pädu Anliker

Under the leadership of the “Master of Ceremony”, an important concert venue was created in the form of the Café/Bar Mokka in Thun: Pädu Anliker shown in a photo taken on 07 April 2015. (Photo: Chris Iseli / az Aargauer Zeitung)

Since Pädu Anliker’s passing on became known, a wave of emotional obituaries and remembrances of the MC and his incomparable club swept through the internet. The...read more

Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm

FONDATION SUISA grants Heiri Känzig its Jazz Award 2016. The musician from Zurich is regarded as one of the most prominent double base players in Europe. He is less known as a distinguished composer. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm

“The richness of his variations and his dexterity make him a virtuoso of his instrument”, FONDATION SUISA writes about this year’s winner, Heiri Känzig, in its press release in connection with the Jazz Award. (Photo: Pablo Faccinetto)

Heiri Känzig is probably more known to the international jazz scene than the Swiss public. The double bass player has never sought out the attention of the broad masses, but managed to convince with humble musical talent. Born in Zurich in 1957, he moved abroad while still young because of music, and lived in cities such as Vienna, Munich and Paris. Heiri Känzig smiles during our conversation when he recalls how Mathias Rüegg had encouraged him to break off secondary school (Gymnasium) in Schiers and to study at the music conservatory in Graz. He later on followed the co-founder of the Vienna Art Orchestra to Vienna, which would become his own springboard into the international jazz scene.

Vienna as a starting point

From 1977 onwards, Heiri Känzig was a member of the Vienna Art Orchestra for 15 years, and already performed on their debut, the single (!) “Jessas na” (1978): “A crazy record”. He thus became part of an innovative scene and obviously gained a good reputation as a double bass player quickly. After all, he became a supporting act for the Bebop trumpeter Art Farmer as early as 1978. Since then, Heiri Känzig has played with numerous big names in jazz such as Art Lande, Kenny Wheeler, Lauren Newton, Billy Cobham and Ralph Towner; he was particularly close to Charlie Mariano. It is also unusual that he became a member of the “Orchestre National de Jazz” as the first non-French national in 1991.

Heiri Känzig insists that he does not just regard himself as a jazz musician: “I like to play different kinds of music.” He showed this, for example, with the “Tienn Shan Schweiz Express” (with musicians from Kirgistan, Khakassia, Mongolia, Switzerland and Austria) or a project with the Algerian Oud player Chaouk Smahi. Furthermore, he was a studio musician for artists like Nena and Andreas Vollenweider. What really amazes is the fact that Heiri Känzig who is usually known as a live musician, has been playing on 130 albums based on his biography. He plays down the fact that there are more in the meantime, and clarifies that at least thirty alone stem from the Vienna Art Orchestra.

Underestimated composer

One constant factor in Heiri Känzig’s career has been the cooperation with Thierry Lang, which had begun before his contract with the legendary Blue Note Records label. For about 25 years, he has been playing with the pianist from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, usually in a trio, but sometimes with guest musicians, and currently even with a string quartet. He also increasingly contributes to compositions. As a co-leader, Heiri Känzig currently works mainly with the jazz ‘institution’ Chico Freeman as a duo, and in the “4-tet” with the “Cholet Kaenzig Papaux Trio”, and with Depart, a trio founded in 1985 with Harry Sokal, which now has Martin Valihora as its drummer.

On the suspense-packed last Depart album “Refire” (2014), the majority of works were written by Heiri Känzig. He is still often described as a “versatile accompanier” or similarly. “As a bass player you are usually not the front man as it is more often the case for trumpeters or pianists”, he says and is relaxed about it. “The bass is primarily an accompanying instrument, and a low one at that, which is not perceived as easily from an acoustic point of view than other instruments.” Heiri Känzig also confirms that the bass has the function to connect the different types of instruments. He adds, laughing: “Bassists are, in a way, the diplomats among musicians, mediating between melody, harmony and rhythm; that’s why we probably are such conciliatory people …”.

Virtuosity and sound

When he composes, he does not worry about the function of the bass, but often just starts playing, usually on the piano. “At the beginning of a composition are bass lines, which I find by playing and which inspire me. These are rhythmic approaches, whereas I fathom the harmonious aspect with the piano.” These are two fundamentally different approaches, and yet the further development of the pieces bear a communality. Composing is always a very exciting process because you never know where it will lead you. You don’t have a clue, and yet something always tells you where to go through next.”

Media reports continue to praise the virtuosity of Heiri Känzig. “And of course you can tell yourself that it doesn’t make sense at all in the case of a bass because the low tones are hardly audible anyway”, he adds and shrugs. “But I add colour to the music by doing so, sometimes even a sound thunderstorm.” This contributes to the fact that his performance has a very individual and unique note. Heiri Känzig can, however, not quite explain this himself. “Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have hardly ever copied anything”.

Heiri Känzig was born in 1957 and grew up in Zurich and Weiningen. He studied music in Graz, Vienna and Zurich. Since 1990, he has been living in Meilen and been a lecturer for double bass at the University for Music in Lucerne since 2002. The singer-songwriter Anna Känzig is his niece; a joint performance is planned for May 2017. – The Jazz Award 2016, worth CHF 15,000 is presented to Heiri Känzig in the course of a special matinée concert on Sunday, 4 December 2016 at 11 am in Moods Zurich. Heiri Känzig will perform together with Chico Freeman and Thierry Lang first in a duo each, then in a trio.
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FONDATION SUISA grants Heiri Känzig its Jazz Award 2016. The musician from Zurich is regarded as one of the most prominent double base players in Europe. He is less known as a distinguished composer. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

Mediate between melody, harmony and rhythm

“The richness of his variations and his dexterity make him a virtuoso of his instrument”, FONDATION SUISA writes about this year’s winner, Heiri Känzig, in its press release in connection with the Jazz Award. (Photo: Pablo Faccinetto)

Heiri Känzig is probably more known to the international jazz scene than the Swiss public. The double bass player has never sought out the attention of the broad masses, but managed to convince with humble musical talent. Born in Zurich in 1957, he moved abroad while still young because of music, and lived in cities such as...read more