To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years

The General Assembly of our Cooperative Society will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017, in Zurich. Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive results of the annual accounts for 2016, SUISA is also going to report on the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services, co-founded with SESAC, plus on the developments regarding the copyright revision and the debate on the ‘service public’. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years

SUISA founded the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services together with US authors’ society SESAC. The project helps improve the competitiveness of SUISA in the online music market. Shown in the picture: Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO (on the left), and John Josephson, Chairman and CEO of SESAC Holding. (Photo: Hannah McKay)

SUISA can look back on a successful financial year 2016. Thanks to the positive year-end result, we are able to pay out more than CHF 128m to those who are entitled to receive a payment. That is more than ever before in the successful history of the Cooperative Society SUISA, spanning more than 90 years.

We are also doing well in terms of our costs. An average cost coverage deduction of 12.37% shows that we have the costs under control. If you take the reoccurring supplementary distribution of 7% into consideration as a contribution to the costs, the actual percentage amounts to 6.75% of the pay-outs to those entitled to receive a payment.

SUISA improves its competitiveness in the online market

Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive annual accounts, we are also going to present the newly founded project for the improvement of SUISA’s international competitiveness in the online music market.

Together with the US authors’ society SESAC, we have founded Mint Digital Services as a Joint Venture back in February 2017. The JV enterprise offers services in relation to the administration and processing of online music licences. With this JV, we emphasise our strategic direction, i.e. to offer rightsholders an efficient and cost-effective administration.

Wanted: Active participation of our cooperative members

There will also be news on the legal framework conditions. AGUR12 II has passed a compromise for the attention of the Head of the Ministry in the EJPD (Federal Department of Justice and Police, FDJP); we are now waiting for it to be substantiated in a legislative draft.

Please do take part in our General Assembly. Only your active participation ensures that SUISA will be there for its members as a Cooperative Society in future.

See you on 23 June 2017 in the Kaufleuten Zurich.

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The General Assembly of our Cooperative Society will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017, in Zurich. Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive results of the annual accounts for 2016, SUISA is also going to report on the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services, co-founded with SESAC, plus on the developments regarding the copyright revision and the debate on the ‘service public’. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years

SUISA founded the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services together with US authors’ society SESAC. The project helps improve the competitiveness of SUISA in the online music market. Shown in the picture: Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO (on the left), and John Josephson, Chairman and CEO of SESAC Holding. (Photo: Hannah McKay)

SUISA can look...read more

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

The new Joint Tariff K applies to events which have taken place since 01 January 2017. An overview of the changes to the concert tariff in force and some answers to frequently asked questions which have arisen based on the experience gathered with the new provisions in the first few months. Text by Chantal Bolzern

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

Since January 2017, a new concert tariff has been in force in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. The picture shows SUISA member Seven (in the middle) on stage at the Tonart Festival in Altdorf, where he performed with a trio in March 2017. More information on Seven is available in the brochure “Where the music is new”, 2017 edition. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

What’s new?

There is now one instead of two tariffs. That way, all information that is relevant to customers, and the respective licensing terms and conditions are now combined into one single document. This makes life much easier, especially for event organisers who organise, apart from concerts, also other events such as theatre performances, cabarets etc.

The types of events are defined and explained in more detail and clarity. Apart from concerts, there are now specific event categories for concert-like performances, shows, ballet and theatre. These are intended to help customers to find their type of event and the licensing rates required for calculating the budget more quickly.

The licence fee percentages have been newly defined and reduced for many events depending on the type of event (concert, concert-like performance, show, ballet, theatre).

Apart from concerts, Common Tariff K (CT K) also governs licensing for music appearing in comedy, shows (such as “Art on Ice” or “Masters of Dirt”), sport tournaments with choreographies such as show dances or theatre performances with musical background or bedding. The calculation of the licence fees for comedy, tattoo festivals etc. in particular will become easier since the event is now relevant as a whole for the amount of the licence rate; it is no longer necessary to license individual works at different rates. This also helps making the budgeting process for event organisers easier and reduces the efforts of SUISA.

Small concerts are invoiced based on the works that were actually used (“pro rata temporis” rule) and no longer as a lump-sum. At the same time, licensing based on the costs of the music usage was re-introduced. Thus, the copyright remuneration will be calculated on the basis of the income generated or the costs incurred. The latter specifically applies to concerts which are free of charge and charity events.

Customers may also deduct the costs for external ticket sales up to a lump-sum of 10%, even for small concerts, if they submit the relevant supporting documents. SUISA thus takes into consideration that event organisers nowadays do use external ticket agencies, even for small or non-commercial events.

Performing artists of any recordings that are played by event organisers prior or after the event, or between the live performances, now also grant the event organiser reproduction rights. This entails a slight increase of the licensing rate for neighbouring rights from 0.2% to 0.25%.

Following the afore-mentioned lowering of the licensing fees, there was a review of the discount system. The volume discount is now only granted for small concerts and the contractual customer must be a member of a recognised association of event organisers in order to qualify for a discount.

What has not changed?

Services to concert goers by third parties that are included in the entrance fee, such as the use of public transport, a voucher for an inclusive drink etc. as well as ticket and value-added tax may still be deducted from the income if the relevant supporting documents are submitted.

The minimum licence fee has remained the same and still amounts to CHF 40 per event. Our contractual customers continue to receive the association discount as well as a 2% cash discount if they pay their invoice within 10 days.

Event organisers must submit set lists or lists of the performed works to SUISA. Firstly, SUISA requires such lists so that it can calculate a correct licensing amount. If SUISA does not hold the rights in all the titles, because, for example, copyright protection has already lapsed, the licensing amount is reduced on a pro rata temporis basis. The licensing rate also gets reduced on a pro rata temporis base if music is not used throughout the entire performance, as is the case quite regularly for theatre performances or comedy. Secondly, SUISA requires the lists in order to distribute the income collected to those composers and publishers whose music has been performed during the event.

Answers to frequently asked questions

Why does the new tariff create more administrative effort?
Introducing a new tariff is always an opportunity to check with long-term customers whether the modalities for the notifications of the events are still suitable for both parties. Furthermore, it is possible that with the partial changes to the licensing rates or conditions under the tariff, SUISA requires different information from customers. This mainly affects such concerts for which event organisers had received a licence based on the Common Tariff Kb between 2009 and 2016 (small concerts). Unfortunately, this is linked to an increased administrative effort for customers as well as for SUISA during a transitional period. As soon as we have clarified with individual customers in each case how we can licence and distribute correctly, this will get easier again.

What is a small concert and why is there no longer a specific tariff for it?
Between 2009 and 2016, a proper tariff applied for small concerts, Common Tariff Kb. Since the beginning of this year, small concerts are governed by the same tariff again as major concerts, theatre performances or comedy events.

In order to continue to fall under the “small concert” category, the capacity of the event venue must be no bigger than 999 people, and the income generated from ticket sales may not exceed CHF 15,000 per event. In this segment, the basic licensing rates were lowered from 10% until 2008 via 9.5% in 2016 to 9% for this year. Until 2008 the same rules have applied, and now, from 2017 onwards, apply again for the declaration of the concerts and licensing such as major concerts. This means that customers deliver the same information to us and don’t have to ask themselves each time which category the event falls under and how they should submit their documentation to SUISA.

This is especially a simplification of matters for medium-sized clubs whose capacity is just less than 1,000 people and which have generated more than CHF 15,000 in ticket sales in one instance and less in another. It’s also facilitating matters immensely for the venues that organise cabarets and concerts. Until now, you had to adhere to CT Ka for comedy, dance, acrobatics etc., and CT Kb for concerts.

Why are sponsoring monies or subsidies suddenly taken into consideration as income in the case of small concerts?
The basic idea of copyright is that authors participate in the collections which have been generated from the exploitation of their works. In the event business, the main income source are usually the ticket sales. If an event organiser’s plans for their budget only caters for the music costs such as payment for musicians to be covered by way of third party means, such third party means (sponsoring, subsidies etc.) must be taken into consideration as an income. This rule has already been established in concert tariffs as early as 20 years ago. It applies for all major concerts, comedy and theatre performances and used to apply to small concerts up until 2008. Due to the combination of the two tariffs CT Ka and CT Kb, it now applies to small concerts again since the beginning of this year.

Many non-commercial clubs and stages create annual budgets, where they make a hybrid calculation. They receive subsidies from their municipalities or cantons, but finance themselves from ticket income and turnover generated by the gastronomy on top of that. As long as they assume in their annual budgets that their ticket sales cover the artists’ performance salaries, the new tariff entails no changes for them. For long-term customers it therefore suffices to glance over their old invoices (up until 2008) to see whether a change has taken place. During the tariff negotiations, we undertook thorough calculations and research together with the associations whose results are now confirmed when implementing the tariff: for the vast majority of the event organisers of the non-commercial sector and especially clubs and stages, nothing will change.

The changes do, however, affect event organisers of corporate events or events that are free of charge, but also categories which can only pay artists’ salaries and other costs related to music by means of subsidies or sponsors’ subsidies.

What are non-musical performances at major concerts and what do they entail?
Both the old Common Tariff Ka (item 25 CT Ka) as well as the new Common Tariff K (item 14.1 CT K) include the term “non-musical performances”. We found out in everyday application of the tariff, that it wasn’t always clear to event organisers what is meant by this term. In order to answer these questions in the tariff, we have clarified this term in the new tariff text: it includes sophisticated choreographies, elaborate costumes and costume changes, video installations or light shows which go beyond the ‘must-have’. By doing so, we want to – as is required by copyright law – take performance-related activities into consideration which are not music but are still protected by copyright.

In practice, this means that the entire concept is taken into consideration for concerts of artists such as Beyoncé or bands like Archive, and the event organiser has to pay a lower licensing rate for the copyright in musical works. It also means that even in big stadiums, concerts sometimes will take place without elaborate artistic production and the event organiser will pay the usual basic licensing rate. That does not only apply to big classical concerts but can also be the case for concerts of certain singer songwriters, like Bruce Springsteen or Neil Diamond.

Why were the new provisions of the concert tariff made known so shortly before its introduction?
In June 2016, SUISA had announced that a new tariff had been negotiated with the relevant user associations such as SMPA, petzi, KTV, ATP etc. and that an agreement had been made. The result of the negotiations was submitted to the Federal Arbitration Commission for copyright and neighbouring rights (ESchK) for approval. The EschK approved the new Common Tariff K on 20 December 2016 and the tariff could thus come into force on 01 January 2017. The relevant tariff documents could not be officially published prior the approval had been given by the ESchK. SUISA had no influence on the date of the approval.

Further information:
«Concerts, comedy shows, shows, ballets, etc.» on www.suisa.ch

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The new Joint Tariff K applies to events which have taken place since 01 January 2017. An overview of the changes to the concert tariff in force and some answers to frequently asked questions which have arisen based on the experience gathered with the new provisions in the first few months. Text by Chantal Bolzern

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

Since January 2017, a new concert tariff has been in force in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. The picture shows SUISA member Seven (in the middle) on stage at the Tonart Festival in Altdorf, where he performed with a trio in March 2017. More information on Seven is available in the brochure “Where the music is new”, 2017 edition. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

What’s new?

There is now one instead of two tariffs. That way, all information that is relevant to customers,...read more

Career and calling | plus video

How do I found and run an ensemble for contemporary music? Where do I get subsidies for my music projects from? What is the purpose of SUISA and Swissperform? How do I distribute my works via the internet? Impressions gathered during the first ever “Journée d’orientation professionelle” at the Festival Archipel 2017. Text, photo and video by Manu Leuenberger

On Saturday, 01 April 2017, at the Festival Archipel in Geneva, it was possible to witness the reasons why music can be both career and calling. During the day, an information event took place for young music creators. Based on their wealth of expertise and experience, 12 field experts shared their input in presentations which included many tips on how to enter a career as a musician.

The video impressions only grant a glimpse into the expansive range of topics which were discussed. Further presentations during this first ever “Journée d’orientation professionelle”, the organisation of which was supported by SUISA, were given by: Johannes Knapp – Director of the STV/ASM (Association of Swiss Musicians), Damien Pousset – Founder of the Aeon label, François Passard (Director) und Alain Renaud (Head of the production studio) of L’Abri, Lucas Fagin – composer and co-director of Babelscores, Bruno Serrou – music critic and Marie-Christine Papillon – Director of Papillon publishing.

Career and calling | plus video

Inspiration and profession were also touched upon during the discussions with composers on 01 April 2017 at the Festival Archipel prior to the evening concert in the Alhambra. On the podium, on the far right: Xavier Dayer, President of the SUISA Board.

In the evening prior to the concert in the Alhambra, a public discussion with composers was held. Xavier Dayer, President of the SUISA Board, was also on the podium. The audience at the well attended event found out why copyright remuneration is particularly important for composers who do not receive any concert fees. Due to the copyright remuneration they receive for their work, composers such as Hanspeter Kyburz, William Blank or Tristan Murail can create works like the ones that were performed in the concert just after the discussion by the Lemanic Modern Ensemble.

www.archipel.org, festival website

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How do I found and run an ensemble for contemporary music? Where do I get subsidies for my music projects from? What is the purpose of SUISA and Swissperform? How do I distribute my works via the internet? Impressions gathered during the first ever “Journée d’orientation professionelle” at the Festival Archipel 2017. Text, photo and video by Manu Leuenberger

On Saturday, 01 April 2017, at the Festival Archipel in Geneva, it was possible to witness the reasons why music can be both career and calling. During the day, an information event took place for young music creators. Based on their wealth of expertise and experience, 12 field experts shared their input in presentations which included many tips on how to enter a career as a musician.

The video impressions only grant a glimpse...read more

The beats from others – but your own songs

The melody is a catchy tune but the groove just doesn’t match. For days, you haven’t got rhythm while some ingenious lyrics are on the tip of your tongue. There are many reasons why creators use someone else’s raw material for their own songs. The following legal and practical tips on how to deal with bought-out beats help you keep in sync with formalities. Text by Martin Korrodi and Claudia Kempf

The beats from others – but your own songs

Those who produce their own songs with bought-out beats have to familiarise themselves with the licensing terms and conditions of the supplier and to mention the “beat maker” on the works registration at SUISA. (Photo: PrinceOfLove / Shutterstock.com)

Producing new works using pre-existing creations is probably one of the oldest and most successful cultural techniques in existence. Due to the technical developments, the integration of “third-party” beats into your own songs becomes simpler every day, and is thus widespread – especially in the genres of hip-hop and rap.

Raw material for the song production

Under the term “Sampling”, this practice has been in place for several decades. Whereas, in the case of sampling, elements are taken from market-ripe productions and processed further, a multitude of platforms nowadays offer a huge range of beats which are produced specially as raw material for “building” your own songs.

When implementing such pre-fabricated elements it is vital to observe that you don’t just have to “buy” the recording but also acquire the legal authorisations in order to use the recording and the underlying composition for your own works. What the purchaser may do with the acquired beat is set out in so-called licensing terms and conditions. Such “small print” may, for example, carry different names on the websites of the suppliers, such as “license agreement”, “terms of use”, “licensing contract” or “legal matters”.

Watch out for the small print!

Customers usually assume that they may do anything they like with the acquired material as soon as they have purchased the respective beat. This process is, however, usually not a typical purchase agreement but a licensing agreement which often contains limiting terms and conditions and may therefore prevent the registration and exploitation of the finished song.

Under a purchase agreement, the title to a specific work copy is acquired (e.g. on a CD). In this process the buyer has, however, not acquired any rights in the works (compositions) and performances (recordings) which are included on the CD.

Especially when working with pre-fabricated beats, buyers must be clear which copyright-relevant actions are permitted with regards to the beats and which ones are not (reproduction, arrangement etc.) This also applies if you obtain the beats free of charge.

Check list: Check these 9 items first before buying the beats

The following overview collates the most important items that you ought to observe from a legal perspective when acquiring beats via the internet:

  • The licensing terms and conditions (license agreement, terms and conditions, etc.) must always be examined thoroughly! In the case of uncertainties, it is imperative that you consult with the supplier or with SUISA before you complete the purchase transaction.
  • Certain offers only allow the non-commercial exploitation: In such cases, neither the sale of the song (via digital or physical media), nor TV or radio plays are permitted. As a consequence, a monetisation via Youtube is not allowed either.
  • The licence often only covers a specific number of copies of the finished song (e.g. “up to 3,000 units”). If this number is exceeded, a new licence has to be acquired, depending on the respective provisions, or a share in the collected revenue for the exploitation has to be paid to the beat maker.
  • Some licensing models explicitly provide for an exclusion of specific exploitations (e.g. “TV/Radio plays not included”).
  • The producers of the beats are often members of a collective management organisation themselves and demand that they participate with a certain percentage as co-authors when the finished songs are registered.
  • In nearly all cases, the name of the beat maker has to be mentioned when the finished song is used in line with the beat maker’s stipulations (Credits).
  • In the case of non-exclusive licences it is imperative to observe that other customers may also use the same material for their songs.
  • It is often possible to acquire the material on an exclusive basis if you pay a higher fee. In such cases, the respective beat will be deleted from the store once the purchase process has been completed and is thus no longer available to any other customers. In the case of exclusive deals, all necessary authorisations are usually granted in order to be able to exploit the finished song without any limitations.
  • Guarantee and indemnity: Customers who invest a lot of time and money also want to be sure that the finished production is free from third-party claims. In the licensing terms and conditions, the beat maker should therefore issue a guarantee to this end and indemnify customers from any third-party claims.

Registration of the finished songs with SUISA

Due to the rights administration agreement, SUISA has the duty to license the works of its members vis-a-vis the customers. The rights administration agreement applies consistently to all works of a member – it is usually not possible for SUISA to take limitations for a specific song contained in the licensing agreement with the beat maker into consideration.

In particular, SUISA shall not monitor the number of licensed copies or exempt specific exploitations of a song from its licensing activities. As a consequence, SUISA cannot accept any work registrations which contain beats whose use is only permitted subject to restricted conditions.

Mention the beat maker in the work registration

The work registration must be in line with the contents of the licensing agreement. As a consequence, the shares for the exploitation of the beats must be clearly stipulated in the agreement or in the terms and conditions of business. If the shares are not clearly specified, and this does, unfortunately, sometimes happen, they have to be clarified with the supplier.

The following provisions can often be found:

  1. The beat maker must receive a specific percentage of the collected income for the exploitation. In the work registration, the beat maker must be mentioned as a composer with this very percentage.
  2. The beat maker will not receive a share but demands “Credits”; his/her name therefore has to be mentioned. In the work registration, the beat maker must be mentioned as a composer with a 0% share.
  3. The beat maker neither asks for a share nor for “Credits”. The beat maker must still be mentioned as a composer with a 0% share. If the name of the composer is not known, “unknown” may be entered in the composer field.

Independently of the licensing provision, the beat maker must therefore always be mentioned in the work registration. On top of that, a note needs to be made in the comments field when registering the work that it contains a purchased beat. Moreover, it is mandatory to provide a copy of the licensing agreement.

The following shall also apply here: If works are created where several authors have contributed, the shares and authorisations must be clearly specified prior to publication.

Purchase via the internet
The purchase of beats via the internet from an unknown supplier holds the same risks as any other purchase on the internet. The government has therefore issued some basic guidelines which should be observed when making purchases on the internet.
Jamahook – a social network for musicians
A portal by musicians for musicians is currently in its infancy, which shall facilitate the collaboration between musicians, beat makers and producers. The core piece of this platform is a sophisticated algorithm which allows to find suitable sounds or beats matching your own music – in an instant. The search includes harmonies, rhythms, tempo and timbre. Jamahook does not just simplify the musical collaboration but also the regulation of copyright-related legal aspects. In this context, SUISA supports the makers of this platform which has its registered office in Switzerland. More info on this project: www.jamahook.com as well as www.youtube.com/jamahook
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The melody is a catchy tune but the groove just doesn’t match. For days, you haven’t got rhythm while some ingenious lyrics are on the tip of your tongue. There are many reasons why creators use someone else’s raw material for their own songs. The following legal and practical tips on how to deal with bought-out beats help you keep in sync with formalities. Text by Martin Korrodi and Claudia Kempf

The beats from others – but your own songs

Those who produce their own songs with bought-out beats have to familiarise themselves with the licensing terms and conditions of the supplier and to mention the “beat maker” on the works registration at SUISA. (Photo: PrinceOfLove / Shutterstock.com)

Producing new works using pre-existing creations is probably one of the oldest and most successful cultural techniques in existence. Due to the technical developments,...read more

Publishers’ participation at SUISA not at risk

A decision by the European Court of Justice dating back to 2015 and two German court decisions made last year have challenged the basic principle of a participation of publishers with respect to remuneration paid out by collective management organisations. Here are the reasons why what happened at Gema cannot repeat itself at SUISA. Text by Martin Korrodi

Publishers’ participation at SUISA not at risk

A decision by the Supreme Court Berlin has shaken the traditional distribution practice at Gema. Due to the legal situation in Switzerland, publishers will be able to participate – as usual – in the distributable amount from SUISA. (Photo: Niroworld / Shutterstock.com)

It was the decision by the Supreme Court Berlin against Gema in particular which left many publisher members of SUISA in a state of uncertainty, as it rather specifically affects the participation of music publishers in the payment of royalties. Would it also be possible in Switzerland that a comparable decision could declare the long-term distribution practice by SUISA to be invalid?

The decision of the Supreme Court Berlin

On 14 November 2016, the Supreme Court Berlin decided that Gema may only include such members in its royalty collection pay-outs who have effectively transferred their rights management to it. Even if the decision only refers to two specific cases, where authors disagreed with the participation of their publishers, the court’s reasoning challenges Gema practices in general.

A central argument in the opinion of the court is the so-called principle of priority: It determines that a rights owner cannot assign his/her rights a second time after he/she has already made a valid rights transfer to a third party – the first rights transfer collides with any subsequent rights transfer of the same rights.

In this context, what this actually specifically means is that an author who has already assigned his/her rights to Gema via a rights administration agreement, cannot assign those rights once more when signing a publishing contract. As a consequence, a participation of the publisher is – based on this decision – out of the question, as the publisher has not acquired any rights which justify a participation.

Furthermore, a participation of the publisher is not justified if only the “publishing rights” have been assigned. Publishing rights in the music sector traditionally includes only the right of reproduction and distribution of music scores. These rights are not managed by Gema. Since, in this case, the definition of the assigned rights in the publishing agreement is too limited, no justification for a publisher participation arises as a consequence.

The court has determined the distribution plans of Gema to be invalid, as far as they provide for a generic publisher participation which only requires the conclusion of a rights administration agreement as well as the notification of the published works, and not the assignment of rights. This, however, was leading to a participation of a party without entitlement to the remuneration, which, in turn, was in violation of the legally embedded prohibition of arbitrary action.

Law and practice in Switzerland

In general, the principle of priority for right assignments also applies in Switzerland: Such authors that have originally acquired and validly assigned rights, cannot transfer these rights again to a third party at a later point in time. In line with local laws this does not automatically imply that a publisher has no right to a participation as soon as an author has joined SUISA prior to the conclusion of a publishing agreement.

These findings are mainly linked to the fact that Swiss Law does not make the entitlement to participate in the remuneration dependent on whether the party holding the rights has actually assigned the rights to the collective management organisation. Art. 49 URG (Swiss Copyright Act) expressly distinguishes between the “original holders of rights” (authors) and “other entitled parties” (such as publishers), between whom the distributable amount is to be shared. The entitlement of a publisher to participate in the remuneration therefore mainly arises from the contractual agreements the publisher has entered into with the author.

Publishers’ participation at SUISA

In line with the above, SUISA may only consider a publisher for distribution purposes if the authors have agreed to this and expressly instruct SUISA to participate the publisher in all or specific remuneration arising from the exploitation of their works (so-called right of instruction of the principal). It is necessary to take into consideration – even in Switzerland – that the scope of the rights assignment is unequivocally stated in the agreement, so that SUISA may participate the publisher in the collections from the individual usage rights and compensation claims. It can therefore be assumed that a mere assignment of the subjective publishing right without further specifying the respective rights may not justify a publisher’s participation in all rights managed by SUISA either.

Furthermore, the distribution rules – in analogy to the legal situation in Germany – must not contain any provisions which imply that publishers participate in the collected remuneration as a principle without specifying an express contractual basis. The SUISA distribution rules meet these requirements by admitting publishers as parties entitled to receive a payment only in those cases where they fulfil their “contractual obligations” vis-a-vis the authors. With regards to the determination of the relevant shares of the parties entitled to receive a payment the distribution rules refer to the contractual arrangements between authors and publishers.

As a consequence it seems rather unlikely that a publisher participation at SUISA would fail for the same reasons as was the case in the European Union and especially in Germany. Despite this position, SUISA is currently optimising some provisions in its distribution rules, its general terms and conditions for rights administration and the SUISA model publishing agreement in order to exclude any residual risks.

Reactions to the decision in Germany
The German Bundestag has immediately suggested the launch of a review of the Act on Collective Management Organisations (CMO Act, VGG) in order to counteract the legal uncertainty which had arisen as a consequence of the decision. The new provisions affect the participation of publishers that have not assigned the rights directly (mitigation of the principle of priority) on the one hand, and the option to participate a publisher in the remuneration collected from the management of statutory compensation claims, on the other hand.
In order to legitimate the publisher participation for the past and guarantee it for the future, Gema has made a confirmation process available to its members. In the course of this process, the involved parties can declare their consent to the shares determined in the Gema distribution plan and to agree with a mutual participation which is not based on who has actually assigned the rights to Gema. www.gema.de/de/aktuelles/verlegerbeteiligung/
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A decision by the European Court of Justice dating back to 2015 and two German court decisions made last year have challenged the basic principle of a participation of publishers with respect to remuneration paid out by collective management organisations. Here are the reasons why what happened at Gema cannot repeat itself at SUISA. Text by Martin Korrodi

Publishers’ participation at SUISA not at risk

A decision by the Supreme Court Berlin has shaken the traditional distribution practice at Gema. Due to the legal situation in Switzerland, publishers will be able to participate – as usual – in the distributable amount from SUISA. (Photo: Niroworld / Shutterstock.com)

It was the decision by the Supreme Court Berlin against Gema in particular which left many publisher members of SUISA in a state of uncertainty, as it rather specifically affects the participation of...read more

Meeting of the SUISA Board – April 2017

During its spring meeting, the SUISA Board dealt with the financial results of the previous year. It approved SUISA’s annual accounts for 2016 as well as those of the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers. Items on the agenda included the ratification of the 2016 annual report as well as the preparation of individual business items for the General Assembly on 23 June 2017 in Zurich. SUISA’s international involvement emerged during the discussion on the pricing of IPI subscriptions. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

Meeting of the SUISA Board - April 2017

An important agenda item of the Board’s spring meeting: Preparations for the General Assembly where SUISA members can co-determine the future of their Cooperative Society. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

SUISA’s annual statements for 2016 reflect a pleasant result for music authors and publishers: Income from Swiss sources reached new record levels (CHF 136.1m). Total turnover therefore was the highest in the Cooperative Society’s history (CHF 154.3m). The amount which is due for distribution to the rightsholders rose to CHF 128.9m (previous year: CHF 125m).

Annual accounts 2016 of the Pension Fund

The Board members jointly make up the Pension Board of the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers (UVF). In that capacity, they examined and approved the returns of the UVF Fund. The fund assets have increased. Before it is possible to hold a discussion on how to adjust the insurance benefits, it was decided to wait for the impact of the revised Pension Fund Regulations on the annual accounts 2017 (please also refer to the article “New Pension Fund Regulations in force from 01 January 2017” on the SUISAblog).

SUISA General Assembly 2017 on 23 June in Zurich

This year’s ordinary General Assembly of SUISA shall take place on Friday, 23 June 2017 in the Kaufleuten Festsaal in Zurich. Doors will open at 9.45 am. The meeting will begin at 11.00 am.

During the first part of the GA, mandatory statutory business items will be dealt with. In the second part of the assembly, the following current topics shall be discussed:

SRG & “Service Public”

The term “Service Public” comprises the mission of SRG (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation)  and private broadcasters financed by fees collected by Billag for radio and TV reception. It is perceived as a comprehensive service for society, covering the relevant requirements relating to education, culture and entertainment of the population. The “No-Billag initiative” challenges the “Service Public”. It does not – as the name might suggest – intend to abolish Billag. Its aim is much more to stop the public service financing of broadcasts. SRG and Swiss private broadcasters would be affected since they receive monies from the fees collected by Billag for radio and TV reception. The Council of States has rejected the initiative in its spring session. It is expected that the topic will be tabled for discussion before the National Council in autumn.

Another approach demands that SRG shall renounce on all radio channels which are not part of the “Service Public” mission. The following so-called special category channels would be affected: Radio Swiss Pop/Classic/Jazz, Radio SRF Virus, Radio SRF Musikwelle, and Radio RTS Option Musique would fall silent. Swiss music is often played in the programmes of these special category channels. If these channels were to be abolished, a lot of airtime for music by SUISA members would be lost.

Géraldine Savary, Ständerätin (federal councillor) and SUISA Board member, is going to comment on the political debates in relation to the “Service Public”.

SUISA prepares for the future

SUISA has founded the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services together with US collective management organisation SESAC ((2)). The JV will take on the invoicing and administration of the online licensing activities of SESAC and SUISA and offer its services also to publishers and collective management organisations. One major publisher, Warner/Chappell, has already signed up to the service range offered by Mint Digital Services. Andreas Wegelin is going to report on this important step for the future and the consequences for SUISA and its members.

IPI system: What may it cost?

SUISA has been supplying CISAC societies with the electronic world repository for authors/publishers since 1969. The technical infrastructure of the Interested Parties Information (IPI) system belongs to SUISA. SUISA issues an invoice to collective management organisations which are using the system for the service provided to them by SUISA each year.

The IPI system forms a part of CISAC’s IT tools. The CISAC administrative council has audited the costs of the IT tools. Of all these systems, the IPI has been the most expensive in 2014. Subscription fees for the IPI system had already been lowered at a previous stage. Nevertheless, the management board of the international umbrella organisation demands that the subscription fees are adjusted downwards. Otherwise, it is said, a competitive system will be launched.

The Board members have deliberated on the room for manoeuvring between fair, cost-covering subscription fees and the intention of SUISA to continue operating IPI at a continued high quality standard. The value of the system depends on all collective management organisations entering their data into this one system so that it shall be and remain the one reliable global identification system for authors and rightsholders.

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During its spring meeting, the SUISA Board dealt with the financial results of the previous year. It approved SUISA’s annual accounts for 2016 as well as those of the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers. Items on the agenda included the ratification of the 2016 annual report as well as the preparation of individual business items for the General Assembly on 23 June 2017 in Zurich. SUISA’s international involvement emerged during the discussion on the pricing of IPI subscriptions. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

Meeting of the SUISA Board - April 2017

An important agenda item of the Board’s spring meeting: Preparations for the General Assembly where SUISA members can co-determine the future of their Cooperative Society. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

SUISA’s annual statements for 2016 reflect a pleasant result for music authors and publishers: Income from Swiss sources reached new...read more

Commentary on SUISA’s annual results for 2016

SUISA can report a very successful financial year 2016. The result reflects an all-time high regarding the income from domestic copyright exploitation. In the Cooperative Society’s history of more than 90 years, this is a record sum in terms of remuneration that is due for distribution. The average cost coverage deduction remains low – about CHF 88 per CHF 100 of the income collected can be paid out to authors and publishers that are entitled to receive such remuneration. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Commentary on SUISA’s annual results for 2016

SUISA is going to pay authors and publishers remuneration totalling CHF 128.9m for financial year 2016. That is the highest ever distributable amount in the Cooperative Society’s history which spans more than 90 years. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

The best business yield achieved by SUISA previously, in 2008, has thus been topped by the results of 2016. The income from the usage of copyright in musical works in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein have never reached such high levels before. As a consequence, more than CHF 128m can be paid out to domestic and international authors and publishers entitled to receive such remuneration. That is the highest amount in our Cooperative Society’s history which spans more than 90 years.

Several reasons contributed to this record result. Broadcast and retransmission rights’ collections, in particular, (Tariff CT S, broadcasters except SRG, CT Y, pay TV, and CT 1 & 2), and the time-shift usage of broadcasts (Tariff CT 12, rental of set-top-boxes) could be increased. The licensing of music performing rights, in particular for concerts (Tariff CT K) and film screenings(Tariff CT E, cinemas) also saw a sustained increase.

Regarding the licences for the distribution of music recordings, the trend continues to move away from physical sound recordings towards online exploitation. Regarding online music exploitation, downloads are increasingly replaced by streaming. Remuneration for private copying, regarding Tariff CT 4, has also grown. The latter can be attributed to the expansion of the storage capacity of devices (smartphones, tablets).

Cost coverage deductions remain low

While the costs for rights management have slightly increased, the proportion of this increase compared to the income remains low. The result is that the applicable cost deductions for settlements to rightsholders entitled to receive a payment are a very reasonable 12.37%. About CHF 88 per CHF 100 will therefore be paid out by SUISA to authors and publishers.

Furthermore, there will be a supplementary distribution on top of all regular settlements, at a level of currently 7%. This consists of monies for which the parties entitled to receive a payment could not be traced. After a period of 5 years, such income will be paid out by SUISA as a supplementary distribution on top of all settlements.

Successful negotiations – still a lot of work to do for SUISA

Such positive annual results are a proof of successful negotiations for tariffs and terms and conditions of use, and of reliable customers and business partners. It also shows that music exploitation is on the rise and SUISA can negotiate and enforce licences for music in relation to new technologies accordingly.

Particularly with regards to internet usage, there is still a lot of work to do. SUISA is increasingly managing online rights for cross-border usage directly. This sector is expected to turn into an important pillar of our work for our members.

Further information:
«SUISA 2016 results: CHF 128.9 million for authors and publishers», Press release, 30 May 2017

SUISA’s annual report 2016 is available as pdf for download. For the third year running, the annual report is published together with the brochure “Where the music is new”. It contains portraits of five SUISA members from different music genres. SUISA focusses on musical diversity. A collective management organisation is putting itself at the service of its members and thus promotes and supports music creatives such as the five personalities portrayed in the brochure. The brochure “Where the music is new” can also be downloaded as a pdf. It is also possible to order printed versions of the brochure and the annual report.
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SUISA can report a very successful financial year 2016. The result reflects an all-time high regarding the income from domestic copyright exploitation. In the Cooperative Society’s history of more than 90 years, this is a record sum in terms of remuneration that is due for distribution. The average cost coverage deduction remains low – about CHF 88 per CHF 100 of the income collected can be paid out to authors and publishers that are entitled to receive such remuneration. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Commentary on SUISA’s annual results for 2016

SUISA is going to pay authors and publishers remuneration totalling CHF 128.9m for financial year 2016. That is the highest ever distributable amount in the Cooperative Society’s history which spans more than 90 years. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

The best business yield achieved by SUISA previously, in 2008, has thus been...read more

Attend the SUISA General Assembly 2017 and take part in the decision-making process

SUISA’s ordinary General Assembly shall take place on Friday, 23 June 2017 in the Kaufleuten Festsaal in Zurich. How did financial year 2016 go? Who will be newly elected into the Distribution and Works Committee? What’s next for the “Service Public” at SRG? What are the aims of the recently created JV Mint Digital Services? Text by Dora Zeller

Attend the SUISA General Assembly 2017 and take part in the decision-making process

SUISA members entitled to vote may register for their attendance and participation in the General Assembly until 20 June 2017. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

Closure of financial year 2016. The management report, financial statements, profit and loss accounts, cash flow statements including annex, and auditors’ report will be submitted to the General Assembly for approval. Furthermore, management will report on the development of the current financial year, providing an outlook on the coming months, with a focus on Mint Digital Services.

The Joint Venture with the US collective management organisation for music rights, SESAC, will take on the invoicing and administration of the online licensing activities of SESAC and SUISA. The recently founded JV will offer its services also to other market players such as (major) publishers or foreign collective management organisations.

By-elections, politics and promotion

Alex Kirschner retires from the SUISA Distribution and Works Committee. Jonas Zellweger has been nominated as a replacement. Jonas Zellweger is a composer and orchestrates film and advertising music; he also performs live as a theatre musician. He has been a SUISA member since 2009.

Géraldine Savary, Ständerätin (federal councillor) and SUISA Board member, will comment on the ongoing political debates in relation to the financing of SRG (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation) and the “Service Public”. This includes, among other topics, the “No-Billag” initiative and the abolishment of the special category channels of SRG. Both discussion items are relevant for Swiss music creators. They could have an impact on the income of SUISA and therefore the royalties which would be due for distribution to the rightsholders.

Special guest at the SUISA GA will be Jürg Stahl, President of the National Council. The currently most senior Swiss politician is characterised by his diversity: well-integrated in sports, well-connected in politics, well-versed in commercial matters. Whether he has any, and if so, which relations he has to the Swiss cultural and music scene will be revealed during his opening speech.

FONDATION SUISA, SUISA’s foundation for music promotion, is also going to report on its activities of the previous year and will award this year’s foundation prize which is worth CHF 25,000.

Zivilschutz-Big-Band Winterthur

The SUISA GA 2017 will be started off with a performance by the Zivilschutz-Big-Band Winterthur, plus Marie Louise Werth (vocals), Rainer Bischof (Euphonium) and Urs Schnell (flute), conducted by Reto Parolari. (Photo: ZS-Bildarchiv)

How to get there / Catering

Attendees are advised to use public transport for their journey to the General Assembly. There are no reserved parking spaces available. Parking garages Talgarten and Gessnerallee are about 3-15 minutes walk away from the Festsaal Kaufleuten. Coffee and “Gipfeli” will be offered prior to the General Assembly. After the assembly, a buffet lunch will be available.

Further information:
www.suisa.ch/generalversammlung

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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SUISA’s ordinary General Assembly shall take place on Friday, 23 June 2017 in the Kaufleuten Festsaal in Zurich. How did financial year 2016 go? Who will be newly elected into the Distribution and Works Committee? What’s next for the “Service Public” at SRG? What are the aims of the recently created JV Mint Digital Services? Text by Dora Zeller

Attend the SUISA General Assembly 2017 and take part in the decision-making process

SUISA members entitled to vote may register for their attendance and participation in the General Assembly until 20 June 2017. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

Closure of financial year 2016. The management report, financial statements, profit and loss accounts, cash flow statements including annex, and auditors’ report will be submitted to the General Assembly for approval. Furthermore, management will report on the development of the current financial year, providing an outlook on the coming months,...read more

Swiss music lives thanks to SRG’s special interest stations

The Transport and Telecommunications Committee of the National Council has moved to close down six SRG special interest stations and has filed a motion in this sense. For Swiss music creators the consequences would be devastating. These stations are precisely those that play and promote local Swiss music. Sign the online petition “Hands off special interest stations” now! Text by Giorgio Tebaldi and Manu Leuenberger

Swiss music lives thanks to SRG's special interest stations

From the streets of Berne to the stage of the Kulturfabrik in Lyss: The band Troubas Kater performing in dialect appears during the 14th edition of “8×15.” in November 2015. At each of these concert evenings of SRF Virus, 8 Swiss bands can present their talent, and be discovered by the audience in a 15-minute slot. (Photo: SRF)

At the Swiss Music Awards in February 2017, the Zurich duo Dabu Fantastic and their co-composer Gianluca Giger were awarded prizes for the best hit and best composition. The Zurich band is currently one of Switzerland’s most successful pop acts. According to singer Dabu Bucher in a recent interview with SRG (Swiss Broadcasting Company), the band owes its popularity in great part to the SRG radio stations. SRF Virus first played its songs over 10 years’ ago, actively encouraging the band’s career.

The SRG youth station is important for other Swiss artists too. It serves as a springboard for young and (still) unknown musicians. The station provides an important platform for newcomers, through its “8×15.” concert broadcasts for example. 50% of the music broadcast by SRF Virus is Swiss music. Hardly any other station offers its audience so large a proportion of local music.

But if the Transport and Telecommunications Committee of the National Council has its way, that will soon be over. In Motion 17.3010 for a “Reduction in special interest radio stations”, the Committee asks for six SRG radio broadcasting stations to be closed: SRF Virus, SRF Musikwelle, Radio Swiss Classic, Radio Swiss Jazz, Radio Swiss Pop and the French-speaking station Option Musique. According to the motion, these stations “do not perform any true public service mission”.

Public service also means promoting Swiss cultural creation

In its “Report on the revision of the definition and provision of the SRG public service taking into account private digital media”, the Federal Council reviewed the meaning of public service in radio and television broadcasting. In its report, the Federal Council pointed out that the SRG provides “numerous unprofitable services in the interest of society”. These services include promoting Swiss films, Swiss music and Swiss literature. This would hardly be possible without reception fee revenues.

Special interest stations extensively promote Swiss music – pop and rock as well as jazz on SRF Virus, and classical and especially folk music on SRF Musikwelle. As SUISA claims on its website, altogether 22% of the music played on the six special interest stations is Swiss, as against 20% overall for all the SRG stations. By comparison, Swiss private broadcasters play less than 10% of Swiss music on average.

Special interest stations discover and promote Swiss music

Special interest stations are instrumental in discovering and promoting Swiss music. Their reporting about the current Swiss music scene is irreplaceable. It is difficult to imagine private broadcasters throwing themselves into the breach left by closing the special interest stations. Private broadcasters are guided by profit-making principles and are primarily financed by advertising. Therefore, they have to gear most of their programming to an audience which wants to hear hits. Swiss musicians hear this all the time in statements like:  “we don’t make the hits, we just play them”, says singer-songwriter Christoph Trummer, President of the association Musikschaffende Schweiz (Swiss Musicians), in an interview with Musikmarkt, the music magazine.

Closing down the special interest stations would also affect Swiss music creators financially. Between them, the six stations played about 550,000 minutes of music by Swiss authors in 2015. According to SUISA’s 2015 annual report, the licence fees for SRG radio stations average CHF 2.70 per minute of playing time. Thus, broadcasting royalties for the works of Swiss composers, lyricists and publishers on the six SRG special interest stations totalled about CHF 1.5 million. This money does not only go to well-established stars, it also goes to unknown Swiss artists.

Favorable framework conditions for Swiss culture

The motion of the Transport and Telecommunications Committee if accepted would have serious implications for the Swiss music scene. Not only would Switzerland lose these important platforms for showcasing the broad diversity of Swiss musical creation, closing down the special interest stations would have significant financial consequences for artists.

Moreover, one substantive question remains to be answered: is it truly Parliament’s role to decide on broadcasting content? Should the legislative not confine itself to setting the framework conditions for radio and television broadcasters? The proposed motion seeks to decide the fate of individual SRG stations. This goes far beyond setting framework conditions. Swiss music creators have more than deserved favorable framework conditions in their own country.

SRG has been operating «mx3 – The Swiss Music Portal» since 2006. Musicians can use the portal www.mx3.ch to present their music to the public; the SRG stations use the portal for their programming. SRF 3, SRF Virus, Couleur 3, Rete Tre and Radio Rumantsch include songs that musicians have uploaded onto mx3 in their broadcast programming. In 2015, about 22,900 bands showcased their music on the mx3 portal.

Petition: Hands off special interest radios!

The purpose of this petition is to ask the competent parliamentary bodies not to close SRG’s special interest stations.

Sign the online petition “Hands off special interest stations” at www.petitionen24.com

Sie können die Petition auch auf dem Unterschriftenbogen unterzeichnen (PDF).

The petition is sponsored by a broad interest group representing the Swiss music scene. Among others, the following stakeholders support the petition: Schweizer Musikrat, Musikschaffende Schweiz, Schweizer Musiksyndikat, Schweizer Tonkünstlerverein, Schweizerischer Musikerverband SMV, Helvetia Rockt, IndieSuisse, IFPI, Schweizer Interpretengenossenschaft SIG, Orchester.ch, Eidgenössischer Jodlerverband EJV, Schweizerischer Blasmusikverband SBV, Schweizerische Chorvereinigung SCV, Verband Schweizer Volksmusik VSV.

Every single signature counts and is important to ensure that radio stations like Radio Swiss Pop, Radio Swiss Classic, Radio Swiss Jazz, Radio SRF Virus, Radio SRF Musikwelle and Radio RTS Option Musique can continue to broadcast and help audiences discover Swiss music. Further information is available on the petition initiators’ website: www.prospartenradio.ch

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

The Transport and Telecommunications Committee of the National Council has moved to close down six SRG special interest stations and has filed a motion in this sense. For Swiss music creators the consequences would be devastating. These stations are precisely those that play and promote local Swiss music. Sign the online petition “Hands off special interest stations” now! Text by Giorgio Tebaldi and Manu Leuenberger

Swiss music lives thanks to SRG's special interest stations

From the streets of Berne to the stage of the Kulturfabrik in Lyss: The band Troubas Kater performing in dialect appears during the 14th edition of “8×15.” in November 2015. At each of these concert evenings of SRF Virus, 8 Swiss bands can present their talent, and be discovered by the audience in a 15-minute slot. (Photo: SRF)

At the Swiss Music Awards in February 2017, the Zurich...read more

New Jersey, just south of Berne

Polo Hofer receives the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 in the category “lyrics author”. Christoph Trummer writes in his guest contribution about the factors distinguishing the works of the award winner from others.

New Jersey, just south of Berne - Polo Hofer FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017

Polo Hofer, winner of the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 has found his way into popular culture and has translated rock and roll as a way of life for the German-speaking part of Switzerland. (Photo: Patric Spahni)

If you wanted to be brief, you’d say: The FONDATION SUISA Prize is a recognition award for outstanding creations. In 2017, it will be awarded to a lyricist for the first time. Polo Hofer was nominated for the award. What else did you expect the jury should do?

Of course, we’ll gladly dedicate more than just these few words to this worthy award winner and his works.

Those who were born after 1970 and grew up in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, are likely to find it hard to imagine their schooldays, youth and life in Switzerland as such without Polo Hofer and his songs and lyrics. Some of his works, ranging from “Bin i gopfriedstutz e Kiosk” (“Am I a blimmin’ kiosk”) to “Bim Sytesprung im Minimum e Gummi drum” (“For that bit on the side as a minimum a condom”) have turned into one-liners; you cannot possibly imagine everyday language being without them. Even those whose parents don’t even own a Polo Hofer CD can sing along to “Alperose”.

Song lyrics turned into popular cultural assets

These lyrics are now part of popular culture, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, for sure. Since his early days with the band Rumpelstilz, Polo’s discography has been serving as a means to tell the story of a rather eventful Swiss history. The “Summer 68”, when (apparently) it was the done thing to travel to Kabul to smoke weed. The wild 70ies, years of upraise, with Rosmarie to Spain, free love next to the “Teddybär” (“Teddy Bear”). The dark side of dreams in the form of a “Silbernaadle töif im Arm” (“A silver needle deeply plunged into the arm”). And already then, dulled by consumerism, in full swing with the “Waarehuus Blues” (“Warehouse Blues”).

Polo’s lyrics are, sometimes, explicitly political: “Da isch nüt vo Grächtigkeit / So wie’s i dr Verfassig schteit” (“Um WAS geits?”) (“There is no justice / as it’s written in the constitution”, song: “WHAT’s this about?”). He does, however, also narrate world history as a personal story, when an old love affair finally gets a chance as the Berlin wall comes down (“Wenn in Berlin bisch”) (“When you’re in Berlin”). Plus, he criticises society with role prose, whose poetry stems from conversations at the regulars’ table in the pub, for example when the farmer’s son of the Lochmatt sums up the empty promises of a life in the bright city lights: «Lah mi vergässe bim rote Wy» (“Let me forget with a glass of red”). That’s popular in its very essence, but it also has side effects.

Sometimes the loud role of Polo National smothers the fact that he also has other qualities as a lyricist. For example, when he ponders about his own mortality in “Im letschte Tram” (“In the last tram”) or when he negotiates the literal sense of God, all the world and his brother in “I dr Gartebeiz vom Hotel Eden” (“In the garden pub of the Eden Hotel”) without getting lost in intellectual deliberations.

Rock and roll – translated for Switzerland

Some of Polo Hofer’s great songs are congenial translations: Tom Waits’s “Jersey Girl” into “Meitschi vom Wyssebüehl” (“Girl from Weissenbühl” – a Berne suburb), Todd Snider’s “Alright Guy” into “Liebe Siech” (“My dear chap”), and Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pill- Box Hat” into “Schlangelädergurt” (“Snake leather belt”). With that, you find out about another one of Polo’s various roles, which make him so significant (not only) for music performed in dialect in Switzerland: He is a translator. Not only a translator of song lyrics but one of the most important translators of rock and roll and popular culture into our culture, into our customs and habits.

Polo Hofer has managed to turn desires, but also the lustfulness of the young with its pubescent obscenities, the rebellion against a stale and settled system, in brief: the rock and roll way of life for the German-speaking part of Switzerland into sound. D’Stüehl ewäg, mir sy giggerig u wei schwoofe (Get the chairs out of the way, we’re in the mood and want to dance). He was inspired by, and found some of his topics in the rock and roll catalogue of legends and brought it to Switzerland: We would probably not get into a ride with Bobby McGee on the highway, but hitchhike with Rosmarie from Paris to Gibraltar. Wyssebüehl is closer than New Jersey.

Polo Hofer as a central figure of our story has opened doors through which many others could pass, even if they didn’t even know his music at all. And now he receives an award for this work. As such, the FONDATION SUISA Award 2017 is a kind of “Lifetime Achievement Award”. We congratulate you from our hearts!

www.polohofer.ch

The FONDATION SUISA Prize is a recognition award for outstanding creations. FONDATION SUISA bestows this award to authors and publishers rendering outstanding contributions to the enrichment of the cultural heritage of our country with their creations. The award, valued at CHF 25,000.00 is granted in a different category each year.

Christoph Trummer won the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2011 in the category “Singer/Songwriter”. Our guest author was born in 1978 and grew up in Frutigen (BE). Apart from his musical activities, he is President of the Association for Music Creators Switzerland.

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  1. […] Im Juni 2017 wurde ihm nach vielen anderen Auszeichnungen durch die Jahre der Preis der Fondation SUISA für sein Werk als Texter verliehen. (Unser Präsident Christoph Trummer schrieb eine Laudatio für den Suisa Blog.) […]

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Polo Hofer receives the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 in the category “lyrics author”. Christoph Trummer writes in his guest contribution about the factors distinguishing the works of the award winner from others.

New Jersey, just south of Berne - Polo Hofer FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017

Polo Hofer, winner of the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 has found his way into popular culture and has translated rock and roll as a way of life for the German-speaking part of Switzerland. (Photo: Patric Spahni)

If you wanted to be brief, you’d say: The FONDATION SUISA Prize is a recognition award for outstanding creations. In 2017, it will be awarded to a lyricist for the first time. Polo Hofer was nominated for the award. What else did you expect the jury should do?

Of course, we’ll gladly dedicate more than just these few words to this worthy award winner and his works.

Those...read more