Archipel Festival – a well-established works smithy | plus video

The Archipel Festival is going to give a large audience access to a plethora of new works between 16 and 25 April 2021 from its location in Geneva. The audience will be able to delve into the festival from the comfort of their homes and to log on in order to follow about 70 events which take place each afternoon. Text by Erika Weibel; Video by Nina Müller

The entire festival programme is going to be broadcast via streaming and will be made available via the Archipel website, free of charge. It is also possible to meet artists online, to participate in discussions, answer questions in quizzes, get an impression of the weather and throw a glance into the premises of the event venue.

Archipel provides a festival “under supervision” with a Web TV team which is going to broadcast live for ten days, from noon to midnight. A unique, experimental and artistic project which allows the audience to take part actively on air.

Baptism of fire for new composers

This year, the Archipel Festival has provided composers again with the opportunity to create new works and thus give the audience the pleasure of enjoying these new compositions. Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf, a young composer from Geneva, has, for example, created the work “50 Hertz”, whose première will take place on 21 April 2021 at 7.00pm.

Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf is a designer and musician who lives and works in Geneva. She creates interactive sound installations, performances and musical instruments. Her works have already been performed to be audio- & audiovisually on numerous international stages. The creative and versatile artist recently registered as an associate member of SUISA.

Collaboration with Archipel

SUISA is a sponsor of the festival again. It is great news that the Archipel organisers have found a creative means to adapt to the circumstances and to carry out the festival under strict stipulations in a new format – and thus enable many new works to be performed.

As a sponsor, we would like to point out two of the 70 events in particular:

Première of the work “50 Hertz” by Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf
on 21 April 2021 at 7.00pm

SUISA round table talk on being a composer in Switzerland
on 24 April 2021 at 2.00pm

Broadcast from the Maison communale de Plainpalais via: www.archipel.org
between 16 and 25 April, from noon to midnight each day

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The Archipel Festival is going to give a large audience access to a plethora of new works between 16 and 25 April 2021 from its location in Geneva. The audience will be able to delve into the festival from the comfort of their homes and to log on in order to follow about 70 events which take place each afternoon. Text by Erika Weibel; Video by Nina Müller

The entire festival programme is going to be broadcast via streaming and will be made available via the Archipel website, free of charge. It is also possible to meet artists online, to participate in discussions, answer questions in quizzes, get an impression of the weather and throw a glance into the premises of the event venue.

Archipel provides a festival “under supervision” with a Web...read more

How private copying produces revenue – distribution of blank media levies

Nowadays, the lion’s share of private copying is done from the internet rather than from CDs as in the heyday of the record market. SUISA’s Distribution Rules have now been amended to reflect present circumstances. The adjustments are designed to ensure a more equitable distribution of the remuneration from private copying. Text by Anke Link

How private copying produces revenue – distribution of blank media levies

Consumers increasingly source their music from the internet. The move to digital forms of music consumption has caused a shift in the sources of music tapped for private copying. As a result, changes also had to be made in the distribution of blank media revenues. (Photo: Carlos Castilla / Shutterstock.com)

The Federal Copyright Act allows Swiss consumers to make copies for their own use and that of a close circle of friends and relatives, regardless which source is used to copy the music from. Since 1992, Swiss copyright legislation has provided that this form of private copying is subject to remuneration. This remuneration is not levied, however, from those who actually make the copies – i.e. the individual consumer – but from the producers and importers of the blank media used to store such copies.

At the outset, blank audiotapes were the chosen media: you would put one into a recorder and then wait by the radio until your favourite song was played, or you would use them to record music played back from a CD so you could listen to it on the Walkman. VHS tapes, used to record television broadcasts, were also among the first blank media carriers to be subject to the levy. Later came blank CDs and DVDs on which you could record music and films.

Today, the blank media levy applies mostly to digital storage media built into devices like smartphones and tablets. These offer variegated possibilities for storing music, films, and other works. The remuneration is levied as a flat fee per blank medium, regardless of the scope of the copying and the works actually copied. SUISA is responsible for collecting the levy from the producers and importers of the devices and distributing the proceeds to those who provide the content for the copying: music authors and artists, filmmakers, writers, etc.

How are the blank media revenues distributed?

When distributing the proceeds from the blank media levy, a first breakdown has to be made between the five Swiss copyright collecting societies: ProLitteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage, and Swissperform. SUISA acts as the central collecting agency for them all. The basis for this breakdown is the share of the copied repertoire represented by each Society.These shares are determined through representative surveys. But the surveys do not provide any information about the works themselves; they only establish whether the works concerned are musical works, films, videos, works of visual art, or texts.

The share that SUISA receives for the private copying of musical works is then distributed to SUISA’s members by allocation to its various distribution categories. Direct distribution is not possible because no one can say in practice which works were copied, stored or downloaded at which frequency by consumers from the internet. Apart from the undesirable intervention in the consumer’s private sphere, the cost of collecting such data would be exorbitant. That is why SUISA allocates the proceeds from the blank media levy to various distribution categories for which detailed programming information is available.

In the past, these allocations relied on the reasoning about the sourcing of private copying. It was assumed, for example, that a portion of the private copying would be sourced from CDs: accordingly, a share of the blank media levy revenues was allocated to the CD production distribution categories. Another share was allocated to the distribution categories for radio and TV broadcasting revenues following the assumption that another portion of private copying would be sourced from such broadcasts.

What sources are used for private copying today?

Today, however, the lion’s share of private copying is sourced from the internet. So basically, one could apply the proceeds of the blank media levy entirely to the distribution categories for online uses? Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple.

On the one hand, SUISA does not manage all the rights for all the music used on the internet. On the internet, SUISA is in competition with foreign rights administration societies and cannot, therefore, offer the entire world repertoire of music online. Only a portion of the works used on the internet produces revenues that flow into the distribution categories for online uses. These are not the only works used for private copying; private copying also taps all the other works in the world repertoire. If the revenues from the blank media levy were all allocated to the online uses distribution categories, a major portion of the privately copied works would be disregarded.

What is more, blank media fees cannot be levied for works copied from a legal source against payment (prohibition of double payment under Article 19(3bis) FAC). This applies to music from download shops like iTunes or from streaming platforms like Spotify. SUISA distributes the revenues collected from these platforms to the corresponding online distribution categories based on the programme reports received from the platforms. Legal prescriptions provide that no blank media levies may be charged for these downloads or for offline storing of streaming services. Therefore, the works involved cannot rightfully be allocated any amounts from the blank media revenues.

Downloaded songs are often re-copied. What about them? – True. Contrary to the original downloading or offline storing of streaming services, these subsequent copies are subject to the blank media levy. But in practice nobody knows which works are involved or how often they are copied. So an indirect method for distributing the revenues from the flat rate blank media levy has to be found for these, and for all the other privately copied works.

How do the Distribution Rules account for the new circumstances?

Since the allocation of revenues based on the private copying sources would lead to the wrong results under present circumstances, we engaged Gfs Zurich, a market research company, to assist us in finding alternative methods for ensuring the most equitable distribution of blank media revenues. Gfs Zurich conducted a representative survey for this purpose. In the survey, consumers were asked where they had “encountered” the last work they had copied for private use – regardless of the source from which they had made the copy: at a concert, the cinema, on the radio, on television, a new CD/LP or a DVD? SUISA has sufficient information about the works used in those distribution channels to be able to use such data as the distribution basis for the blank media revenues.

Henceforth, therefore, the revenues from the blank media levies will be allocated to the distribution categories used to distribute the revenues from these other distribution channels. This is consistent with the principle set forth in point 5.3.2 of the Distribution Rules (DR), namely: “Remuneration where no programmes are provided shall be allocated to such distribution categories in which the same or at least a similar kind of music prevails”. In certain cases, no alternative distribution channel could be determined. The corresponding share of the blank media revenues is therefore assigned to the distribution categories for radio broadcasts; since these are the categories with the broadest repertoire, this system benefits the greatest number of rightholders.

Point 5.5.5 has thus been amended to read:

Point 5.5.5 CT 4 (blank media), 4i (built-in digital storage media) – Blank media levies
Distribution categories
Audio 33.0% 1A
28.0% 2A
(for domestic licensing) 11.5% 21A
(for central licensing) 11.5% 21Z
16.0% 4
Video 16.0% 1C
12.0% 22A
14.0% 2C
8.0% 9A
17.0% 1A
17.0% 2A
The remaining 16% shall be allocated in supplement to the TV remuneration for foreign broadcasters under Tariff CT 1.
In the case of mobile phones and tablets, CT 4i revenues shall be allocated 90% to audio and 10% to video. In respect of the other blank media regulated by CT 4 and CT 4i, the relevant distribution key shall be determined by the type of blank media.

The Intellectual Property Institute approved this amendment on 6 April 2021; we expect to receive approval from the Liechtenstein regulatory authorities in the next few weeks. The amendment is effective three months after it is approved and will therefore be implemented for the next distribution of blank media revenues in September 2021.

Who receives more and who less money from private copying?

The re-allocation of the blank media revenues will have a positive effect overall. At least three times more authors and publishers will receive more money than before. For most members, however, the increase will be only a small amount. Those who will see a decrease in their blank media revenues are likely to be affected more strongly.

Nevertheless, we are convinced that the revision was both necessary and equitable. The decreases are mostly due to the cancellation of allocations to the online distribution categories, and to reduced allocations to the 21Z distribution categories for central licensing of CD productions. We have explained above why allocations to the online distribution classes are no longer justified today.

The same applies to the 33.0% allocation to distribution category 21Z for central licensing which is no longer justified since: the decision dates back to the heyday of the record market when SUISA was collecting about CHF 25 million per year in revenues for CD productions. By 2019, the distributable amount from central licensing was no more than CHF one million, yet CHF 2.3 million in blank media revenues were allocated to distribution category 21Z. Rightholders who earned CHF 1 from the distribution of their works on CD were collecting CHF 2.17 from the blank media levy.

Following the virtual collapse of the record market, these allocations largely overstepped the original intent. As a result a small number of rightholders were being favoured at the expense of the majority. The adjustments now introduced are more equitable for everyone, and we trust that even those who henceforth receive less income from the blank media levy will appreciate this fact.

Further Information:
SUISA Distribution Rules

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Nowadays, the lion’s share of private copying is done from the internet rather than from CDs as in the heyday of the record market. SUISA’s Distribution Rules have now been amended to reflect present circumstances. The adjustments are designed to ensure a more equitable distribution of the remuneration from private copying. Text by Anke Link

How private copying produces revenue – distribution of blank media levies

Consumers increasingly source their music from the internet. The move to digital forms of music consumption has caused a shift in the sources of music tapped for private copying. As a result, changes also had to be made in the distribution of blank media revenues. (Photo: Carlos Castilla / Shutterstock.com)

The Federal Copyright Act allows Swiss consumers to make copies for their own use and that of a close circle of friends and relatives, regardless which source is...read more

Music in companies: What to bear in mind

Music plays an important role in many businesses. It creates a pleasant atmosphere for customers, guests, and employees, it enhances advertising messages, and is an important part of corporate events. The rights to use music are easy to obtain from SUISA. Depending on the type of use, different tariffs and rates apply. Text by Liane Paasila, Martin Korrodi and Giorgio Tebaldi

Music in companies: What to bear in mind

By playing the right background music in your shop, you assure your customers a pleasant shopping experience and may even influence their buying behaviour. (Photo: Tana888 / Shutterstock.com)

Companies are aware of the impact music has on their business. Retailers employ professional sound companies to offer their customers a pleasant shopping experience – and encourage them to buy your products. Medical practices play soothing background music to help their patients relax – none wants to listen to heavy metal during a medical examination or treatment. And commercials too only work with the right music, often specially commissioned. In short, there are any number of examples of the ways in which music can contribute to the success of a business.

Remuneration for composers, lyricists, and publishers

It follows that those who compose the music and write the lyrics – the authors – are entitled to payment. This is done through SUISA, which grants licences for the different music uses and collects the fees in exchange. The amount of the licence fees depends essentially on the value status of the music in the corresponding use. For example, in the case of a symphonic concert, which one generally attends just for the music, the fees will be higher than for the background music in the waiting room at the doctor’s where listening to music is not the main purpose of the visit.

Music from all over the world thanks to SUISA

The tariffs for the different music uses are negotiated at regular intervals between SUISA and the associations of users (e.g. Gastrosuisse for music uses in the hospitality industry); they are jointly set, and then approved by the Federal Arbitration Commission for Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights.

And because SUISA represents the entire world repertoire in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, a licence from SUISA allows the holder to use virtually any music, from anywhere the world over. SUISA distributes the proceeds worldwide to the authors and publishers of the music thus used. For each CHF 100 it collects, SUISA distributes CHF 87 to music authors and publishers.

SUISA issues licences to over 120.000 users, including radio and TV broadcasters, concert organisers, clubs, cafés and restaurants, event and party organisers, shop owners, and online music services. This year, SUISA is planning to conduct a targeted market campaign covering music uses in businesses and will be contacting potential customers directly with its offerings.

Music uses in companies

Three of the most common music uses in businesses are explained below:

1. Background music in sales rooms and offices

In Switzerland, over 100,000 businesses play music via different technologies to create the desired atmosphere on their premises – sales rooms, offices, waiting rooms, etc. In company cars, when on hold, or in the lift, music entertains your customers and employees. Various studies show that music also serves to steer consumer behaviour.

Such uses of music in businesses qualify as public uses and are subject to a fee. Businesses accordingly pay a fee under Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a) to the authors, publishers, artists, or producers. “Common” means that in addition to covering the copyrights managed by SUISA, the tariff also covers those of the other copyright administration societies like Swissperform (for performing artists and producers) and Suissimage (for film creators). SUISA acts as central collecting agent for this tariff on behalf of all the Swiss collecting societies and distributes their share of the collected revenues to the authors and publishers of the music.

Examples of background music uses (CT 3a)
Where?
• Office premises (e.g. common rooms, offices, meeting rooms)
• Sales areas (e.g. sales rooms, restaurants, inns and hotels)
• Company vehicles
• Lines on hold
• Museums, exhibitions
• Medical practices (patient rooms, surgeries, waiting rooms)
How?
• Retransmission of radio broadcasts and music recordings
• Retransmission of TV broadcasts and films (film projections with announced time and venue; public viewings on giant screens with a diagonal exceeding 3 metres are regulated separately).
• Operation of interactive multimedia terminals
Further information background music uses (CT 3a)
CT 3a portal
SUISA website, about CT 3a: www.suisa.ch/3a
Distribution of CT 3a revenues:
www.suisablog.ch/en/how-suisa-distributes-fees-collected-for-background-entertainment/

2. Videos and films with music on the Internet

Ever more businesses are relying on digital formats to reach their customers through professional websites or contributions to social media. Digital communication is important to reach and maintain a connection with customers and other target groups, and not only in extra-ordinary times like during this pandemic. Videos with a musical backdrop play an essential role in this regard, contributing to make a product or service more appealing to customers.

Persons wishing to use a music recording in a video must first understand the distinction between the two types of licensable rights, namely:

  • on the one hand, the rights in the audio recording which are held by the record label;
  • on the other, the copyrights in the work itself, i.e. the composition and lyrics, if any, which are held by the music publisher and/or the authors.

The record label is responsible for the neighbouring rights in the audio recording. In the case of a video recording with music, permission and licences for the synchronisation and re-recording of the recording must be obtained from the label.

For the author’s rights in the work, the music publisher and SUISA are responsible. SUISA grants licences for the reproduction of the work as part of the video production, and for the making available of the work in the video on an own website and/or on social media platforms. The music publisher grants the licence for the synchronisation right in a work. To publish a video with a musical backdrop, one must first contact the publisher and ask whether the song can actually be used in a video.

The licensing procedure is basically the same for any company. For smaller firms with no more than 49 employees and annual turnover up to CHF 9 million, SUISA offers an all-in solution with its partner Audion. You can purchase a licence covering both the author’s rights and those of the label/producer for an annual fee of CHF 344. Thanks to this all-in arrangement, small businesses may use as many short videos with music as they wish to promote their image, products, and services on their website and social media profiles. This arrangement ensures easy access to a licence for the use of music protected by copyright.

Further information about the use of videos with music on websites
Customer portal Music on websites
FAQs:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/online/music-on-the-internet-for-small-businesses/questions-answers.html
SUISAblog articles about the all-in arrangement:
www.suisablog.ch/en/collective-management-is-a-service-for-music-creators-and-music-users-alike/

3. Music for company events

Christmas parties, general meetings, product presentations – music is often an important component of company events. These are licensed under Common Tariff Hb (CT Hb) which regulates music for dance and entertainment outside the hospitality industry. CT Hb applies to live performances: a band hired for the Christmas party, for example, or a DJ at a staff party, as well as events with musical intermissions such as general meetings, or company events organised for customers.

In terms of rates, the tariff distinguishes between small and large events. Small events are those organised in venues with a capacity of up to 400 people. The fees here are flat fees, per day and per event, depending on the number of persons attending. In the case of large events, since companies do not generally sell tickets for admission, tariff rates are calculated based on the costs sustained in connection with the use of the music. These costs typically consist of the artists’ fees and expenses, instrument rental fees, and the rent charged for the venue. If admission is charged, other calculation bases may apply.

The tariff also provides for a number of discounts – for example, for companies that conclude a contract with SUISA under CT Hb for all their events, or which organise more than 10 events per year.

Companies in the hospitality industry
Inns, pubs, and restaurants:
For entertainment and dance events in restaurants and the like, the applicable tariff is CT H, not CT Hb. CT H applies to the same events as CT Hb, but because of the association with food and beverage, another calculation model is used which takes into account the price of the cheapest alcoholic beverage in addition to the number of persons attending and the admission price.
Hotels:
It is not always clear for hotels what surface areas to use as the calculation basis, so the following should be helpful: CT 3a also applies to the surface area of hotel rooms. SUISA often receives reports from hotels where the surface areas of the rooms have not been included in the total usage area. For hotel rooms, depending on the total area concerned (rooms and common rooms), an additional fee is charged on top of the base fee (Common Tariff 3a, section 6).
Further information about music events
Outside the hospitality industry, CT Hb:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/organisers-of-events/events-parties/parties-and-other-dance-events.html
For the hospitality industry, CT H:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/restaurants-hotels/clubs-bars-restaurants/djs-or-musicians.html
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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.

Music plays an important role in many businesses. It creates a pleasant atmosphere for customers, guests, and employees, it enhances advertising messages, and is an important part of corporate events. The rights to use music are easy to obtain from SUISA. Depending on the type of use, different tariffs and rates apply. Text by Liane Paasila, Martin Korrodi and Giorgio Tebaldi

Music in companies: What to bear in mind

By playing the right background music in your shop, you assure your customers a pleasant shopping experience and may even influence their buying behaviour. (Photo: Tana888 / Shutterstock.com)

Companies are aware of the impact music has on their business. Retailers employ professional sound companies to offer their customers a pleasant shopping experience – and encourage them to buy your products. Medical practices play soothing background music to help their patients relax –...read more

“We want to prevent current projects from failing”

With “Keep Going!”, FONDATION SUISA is temporarily expanding its funding portfolio. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA Keep Going!

“Keep Going!” is intended to enable the Swiss music scene to continue its activities in times of crisis. (Photo: FONDATION SUISA)

FONDATION SUISA supports projects with a link to current Swiss and Liechtenstein music-making, explicitly the creation and distribution of repertoires. “That is our Foundation’s mission,” explains the Director, Urs Schnell, before adding: “However, we regularly review our portfolio and add new programmes if required.”

It is clear to Mr Schnell that as a result of the pandemic and the corresponding lockdowns, the daily lives of Swiss music makers have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent months. “We had to take action as a Foundation,” he says and is visibly delighted that the Board of Trustees quickly and unbureaucratically approved the flexibilisation of the funding programmes in the context of the Foundation’s mission.

“Keep Going!” is the name of the additional temporary funding model offered which – as Mr Schnell expressly points out – does not replace the existing offers but rather complements them. “Keep Going!” is intended to enable the Swiss music scene to continue its activities in times of crisis. “We are convinced that even during periods when cultural activities virtually come to a complete standstill, music makers need to find new ways of still being able to achieve the goals they have set for themselves,” says Mr Schnell. “And this concerns both the development of new musical works and their distribution.” The latter is underlined by the fact that the new funding model is not only reserved for individuals or groups but also includes organisations.

According to Mr Schnell, “Keep Going!” is intended to meet music makers and organisations exactly where they are currently at and enable them to adapt to the new circumstances if required: “With this funding, we want to contribute to ensuring that existing projects are not jeopardised.”

“Exceptional” or “unprecedented”, factors which play an important role in the “Get Going!” funding model launched three years ago, are not explicitly excluded but are not decisive for “Keep Going!”.

With “Keep Going!”, FONDATION SUISA underlines its top priority, which is to encourage creative ideas and enable them to be implemented – even in times of uncertainty and under challenging circumstances.

In April, the first tranche of CHF 5,000 will be awarded. “Then we will consider our options,” says Urs Schnell. “We will analyse all applications received and draw our conclusions from them.” The plan is to issue a call for applications for “Keep Going!” every two months.

Information on “Keep Going!” on the FONDATION SUISA website:
www.fondation-suisa.ch/en/work-grants/keep-going-2021/

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With “Keep Going!”, FONDATION SUISA is temporarily expanding its funding portfolio. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA Keep Going!

“Keep Going!” is intended to enable the Swiss music scene to continue its activities in times of crisis. (Photo: FONDATION SUISA)

FONDATION SUISA supports projects with a link to current Swiss and Liechtenstein music-making, explicitly the creation and distribution of repertoires. “That is our Foundation’s mission,” explains the Director, Urs Schnell, before adding: “However, we regularly review our portfolio and add new programmes if required.”

It is clear to Mr Schnell that as a result of the pandemic and the corresponding lockdowns, the daily lives of Swiss music makers have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent months. “We had to take action as a Foundation,” he says and is visibly delighted that the Board of Trustees...read more

Julien-François Zbinden: an extra-ordinary force of personality

On 8 March 2021, Swiss composer and jazz pianist Julien-François Zbinden passed away. He was 103 years’ old. Julien-François Zbinden was President of SUISA from 1987 to 1991. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Obituary Julien-François Zbinden: an extra-ordinary force of personality

Julien-François Zbinden in a photo from 2000. (Photo: Jean-Pierre Mathez)

It is with great sadness that we received the news that Julien-François Zbinden had passed away. A highly esteemed honorary member and former president of SUISA (from 1987 to 1991) has left us at the age of 103. We shall always remember the sparkle in his eyes. The memory, still fresh, of his one hundredth birthday celebrated with a small circle of very close friends in the heights of Lausanne is still very much alive. What energy, what extra-ordinary force of personality. On that occasion, he stood up before his guests and gave a speech so very presidential and full of his customary wit.

Yes indeed – with his charm and conviction, Julien-François Zbinden will have marked Swiss music throughout many years. There is no need for reminder of the stylistic opening between classical music and jazz which he incarnated so well, nor of the exceptional work capacity of a man who lived for music. A man who had rubbed shoulders with the greatest: he had known Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky, Clara Haskil, Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli, Fernandel and Juliette Gréco.

But he also marked SUISA very positively through his presidency and constancy. He would attend the general meetings whenever he could or, if his health did not allow him to do so, he would send us a note full of kindness and consideration. He came from a time where form and manner were guided by different codes than those practised today. A time far removed from the permanent deluge of information and demands of the present day.

Thus, conversing with Julien-François Zbinden was like piercing the veil of time and entering a lost dimension. His words were never nostalgic or distanced; on the contrary, the aviator he had been (he passed his pilot licence in his fifties) was always eager for new discoveries and experiences. His exemplary curiosity fascinated everyone he met. During his long and brilliant career at Radio Suisse Romande, he introduced his audience to every musical genre, rejecting compartmentalisation in every form.

His open-mindedness, capacity for dialogue and bridge building enabled him to succeed with brio in his presidential roles (apart from SUISA, he also presided the Swiss Association of Musicians from 1973 to 1979). Tributes are pouring in today, and quite rightly so. His presence, his care and attention, and his stimulating vivacity will be sorely missed in the Swiss music landscape.

Julien-François, our honorary member, will be with us for many years to come, alive in the memory of the rare quality of the exchanges he knew how to cultivate.

Xavier Dayer

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  1. greg says:

    henry hubert accordeoniste et moi meme greg lewis pianiste rendont hommage a monsieur Zbinden en faisant aujourd hui notre adhesion a la suisa sincere amitiés a sa famille

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On 8 March 2021, Swiss composer and jazz pianist Julien-François Zbinden passed away. He was 103 years’ old. Julien-François Zbinden was President of SUISA from 1987 to 1991. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Obituary Julien-François Zbinden: an extra-ordinary force of personality

Julien-François Zbinden in a photo from 2000. (Photo: Jean-Pierre Mathez)

It is with great sadness that we received the news that Julien-François Zbinden had passed away. A highly esteemed honorary member and former president of SUISA (from 1987 to 1991) has left us at the age of 103. We shall always remember the sparkle in his eyes. The memory, still fresh, of his one hundredth birthday celebrated with a small circle of very close friends in the heights of Lausanne is still very much alive. What energy, what extra-ordinary force of personality. On that occasion, he stood up...read more

Ghost Festival – The big silence

The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or Dodo are lined up next to the “young and wild ones” such as Crème Solaire, Annie Taylor or KT Gorique. Unfortunately, you will not get much more than their names. Music is something you will not find at this event, nor will there be brilliant live shows or the usual festival feeling with tents, catering stalls and queuing in front of mobile toilets.

The Ghost Festival is “the festival that does not take place”. It is not going to take place over the weekend of 27/28 February 2021.

Ghost matches in football were the inspiration for the Ghost Festival

Brought to life by a few Berne music lovers, the Ghost Club, the Ghost Festival is an initiative of solidarity for Swiss music creators and performers.  Baldy Minder, booker and manager of acts such as the Bern Hip-Hop-Kollektiv Chlyklass or the female rapper 11Ä is a member of the Ghost Club. In the backstage area of the Zurich concert venue “Exil”, he told us during the video interview what the basic idea of the Ghost Festival is: “There are ghost matches in football. And as a supportive football fan, you show your solidarity these days by renewing your season ticket even though the future is uncertain. And that is how the idea for the Ghost Festival came about.”

Music fans can buy tickets for the festival as follows: A one-day pass for CHF 20, a two-day pass for CHF 50 or a VIP ticket for CHF 100. And because it does not take place, the tickets are never sold out. Furthermore, there is a broad range of Ghost Festival merchandise from T-shirts to hats and caps or hoodies and jackets. The income thus made will be paid through to the artists as well as their bookers, light and sound engineers and others. This kind of money is more than just a nice little top up: In the current situation, the most important source of income for most of the music creators and artists – in the broadest sense – drops out: concerts. And this situation has been ongoing, apart from a few short periods of relief in the summer of 2020, for one year now. And an improvement is not in sight.

A hole of more than CHF 50,000 in the financial ledgers of the authors and publishers of music

This is also reflected at SUISA when it comes to the collections from performing rights which include concerts and festivals, among others. Based on the example of the Ghost Festival, this can be well demonstrated: Around 15,000 tickets have been sold so far for the festival. If this was a normal event, where artists perform their songs, the composers, lyricists and publishers of the performed works would receive more than CHF 50,000 in royalties. Since no music is played, this kind of income simply drop off.

Around 400 festivals take place in Switzerland each year, the country with the largest festival density worldwide. Most of these festivals had to be cancelled due to the corona pandemic last year. As a consequence, SUISA’s income for copyright arising from concerts in 2020 were more than 50% lower than in the previous year. In absolute figures, this is, compared to 2019, CHF 12m less which will be paid out to the music creators in 2020 from concert income. And this detrimental situation is going to last well into 2021 and probably also into 2022.

An initiative of solidarity also aimed at bookers, sound engineers, roadies and other participants

And these are only the collections for those who composed or wrote the lyrics to musical works or are in the publishing business. For musicians, there is also the loss of gig fees, which are usually much higher than the copyright royalties. Concert and festival cancellations are not just problematic for musicians: The crisis which has now been going on for about a year has also affected the people that make such a festival and concerts possible in general: Bookers, sound and light engineers, roadies, tour managers, merchandise salespeople, security staff or of course the concert promoters themselves.

“The idea is that it is not just the bands who benefit but also that there is a holistic promotion and support for people who work in this sector”, says Baldy Minder. “When bands are on the road, they have a tour manager, a light engineer or a sound engineer; bands who travel with instruments have stage hands who help to carry all the equipment. There are an awful lot of people involved who currently have very little to do, unfortunately, and thus much less income.”

100% of the ticket sales go to the music creators

That is why the artists and bands could name two additional people from their entourage who should also benefit from the income generated by the Ghost Festival. In total, this is about 1,300 people. “The collected monies will be distributed on a per capita basis and not on a per-band basis”, explains Baldy Minder. While 100% of the income from ticket and merchandising sales flow to music creators, a part of the sponsorship funds will be used to pay for the work of the organisers. “The partnerships enable us to pay our salaries”, says Baldy Minder.  And adds: “Whatever remains of the sponsorship funds will be allocated to the artists.”

One of the biggest challenges for the organisers was time management: The idea came about at the end of November 2020. There were just three months to carve out the biggest festival in Switzerland. Even if there are no performances in the end, there are some parallels between organising a ghost festival and a real festival, as Baldy Minder explains: “A major part is rather similar to a real festival. You have to make a booking, you initiate the entire promotion, social media and press campaign. You have a lot of contact with the bands. What you don’t have is the entire infrastructure. You do not have to build a fence, set up a stage and we do not have to organise a PA company. We also do not need security. We do not need to pay SUISA fees since nothing is going to happen from a copyright perspective, after all, you won’t hear a peep at the festival.”

Ghost sounds, if anything

The event organisers have also intentionally renounced on organising streaming concerts for the weekend. Baldy Minder says: “Many people are asking for streams, but no, there will simply be nothing this time, no music. It is now finally the time where you can lean back and give back.”

For the audience of the Ghost Festival that does not want the sounds of silence and is missing the music, there will be something to listen to after all, even if it is no music: “We will release an album. It won’t be a compilation but an album as “The Ghost Orchestra”, announces Baldy Minder. It will be released on 26/2/21, one day ahead of the festival.” It is going to be released as a CD – with a clear idea behind it, as Baldy Minder explains: “The CD is totally anti-cyclical, a little bit of a ghost which is slowly vanishing.” Most of the bands from the line-up will be included on the mysterious CD. And they are artists from all language regions of Switzerland. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic affects music creators across all of Switzerland.

SUISA is a partner of the Ghost Festival
The Covid-19 crisis heavily affects SUISA members. For that reason, SUISA acts as a sponsoring partner of the Ghost Festival, not just the Cooperative Society itself but also its staff members. Each ticket that is bought by the SUISA staff will be enhanced in value by the company: Each one-day ticket will be upgraded to a two-day ticket, each two-day ticket will be upgraded to a VIP ticket and for each sold VIP ticket the staff receive a second VIP ticket.Above and beyond that, SUISA will be reporting from the festival on the festival weekend and talk to some artists and organisers. More info will be available in the coming days on www.instagram.com/suisamusicstories.

 

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The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or...read more

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

A year ago, on 28 February 2020, the first restrictions for cultural events were adopted. Initially events were limited to 1,000 people, then the first lockdown occurred in mid-March. Thanks to precautionary measures, small rule relaxations were granted in the summer, but they were gradually reversed in autumn. Since mid-January 2021, we have been stuck in the second lockdown: without music events, without access to real – non-virtual – cultural experiences. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO, considers the arts and culture as an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. (Photo: Beat Felber)

In order to stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus, the authorities initiated drastic measures. In principle, service ranges outside your daily needs can only be accessed with difficulty, or they are no longer permitted altogether.

But what is that actually, “daily needs”? Who defines them?

The daily needs of people also include things that they can enjoy intellectually! Attending a concert, going to the cinema or visiting an exhibition: Why have museums been closed, when, in fact, exhibitions rarely have to fend off crowds of visitors, except maybe in the case of blockbuster special exhibitions? Why do cabarets and small stages have to keep their doors shut? They could provide Swiss artists with the opportunity to perform and, at the same time, delight a small but certainly grateful audience.

A concert streamed on the internet is no replacement for live events. There is no interaction, no joint experience of an artistic performance which leads to a cross-fertilisation of both sides, performers and audience, that actually makes a concert the memorable occasion it should be.

Meanwhile, concerts with no audiences are organised such as the “ghost festival”: A festival with about 300 bands, with nearly 1,300 music creators including technicians, engineers, bookers, managers and other parties contributing, which actually does not take place simply because nobody can go there. SUISA does support such a “non-festival” with sponsoring but also via ticket sales by its staff.

Cultural and creative industries are relevant

Many event organisers and promoters had worked out reliable precautionary and protective measures in the summer months of 2020 and implemented them with additional costs that were not always insignificant. Now, they are virtually facing an occupational ban. Practically nothing has been permitted any more for a total period of more than six months . The corona bans and prohibitions led to huge financial losses. The Confederation and the cantons may have adopted support programmes, but they have not been well adapted to the situation of the many freelance artists and the event organisers or promoters who are sole traders.

Where does the low regard for the cultural sector stem from?

There is obviously no cultural awareness among the decision makers in politics and administration. Despite a new study of Ernst & Young (EY) showing that the cultural sector is in fourth place regarding the number of employees in Europe: www.rebuilding-europe.eu

We therefore call upon persons with political and administrative control and institutions alike: Culture is vital! It is an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. Allow it to flourish, even in times of a lockdown! It delights people, gives them a perspective beyond the pandemic and particularly gives the artists a livelihood.

Create more differentiated rules: Small events and events with a reduced audience size must be possible, just like open museums, cultural venues, where interested people and artists can meet and experience something together, naturally in compliance with the health regulations. Such places are just as important for society and everyday life as shops where you can buy your everyday provisions. Scientific research has proven that no increased danger exists at cultural events with good precautionary measures with regards to a further spread of the corona virus: more information on this can be read in the study on aerosoles of the Fraunhofer Institute at the Konzerthaus Dortmund (Dortmund Concert Hall) and the closing report of the trial operations of the Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) with increased audience numbers.

Anchoring cultural awareness more firmly

The corona crisis has revealed something else with respect to culture: Only after events were prohibited and thus disappeared, many have become aware how important culture and entertainment is for us humans and how uplifting cultural exchange between artistic creators and the audience is for both sides.

This cultural awareness should become anchored among the Swiss population more firmly. Starting with education: Young people should be led to the arts through education and through enabling access to cultural achievements. While a few things have been accomplished via the Initiative Jugend & Musik (Youth & Music) there is still a lot to be done, in particular in the other creative genres than just music.

Society’s interest in music, the visual arts, film, literature, dance and performance arts is expanded by stimulating personal creation and promoting the facilitation of current artistic production and artistic heritage. The more people come into contact with artistic forms of expression, the more the need for art and culture will grow. Which ultimately leads to society demanding in a more sustainable manner that this need is satisfied and the necessary conditions for that are created and provided.

A joint strong voice for culture is necessary

In order to increase and more firmly anchor the need for art and culture, the cultural institutions of this country must get together and jointly and more vehemently demand and promote the dissemination of cultural creation.

The “Taskforce Culture” is a joint strong voice which has been heard for the first time during the pandemic. Over the last few months, this task force has, as a discussion partner for politicians and officials, already managed rather well to gather and bundle the forces from the most diverse cultural genres, from artist associations to event organisers and cultural mediators and to stand up for culturally specific concerns. The message has, after all, not hit home with everyone that artistic creation has different requirements to working in many production or service sectors.

A fusion of cultural institutions and associations which, similarly to the large trade associations and workers’ organisations, can take on an important role as a contact for societal and political developments in Switzerland. Such a strong, joint voice for culture is going to get additional relevance in the coming months and years. The public sector will have to make extremely drastic spending cuts because the national economy has suffered and continues to suffer from immense damage due to the fight against the pandemic by way of prohibitions and bans. Future tax collections will decrease while the national debt will increase due to the support measures.

How quickly the savings lever has been applied to culture and education sectors first during financially difficult situations is something we have witnessed already. Together, cultural associations and institutions can raise their voice and see to it that, in the mid- to long-term, the societal and political significance of art and culture is strengthened and respected. For artistic forms of expression and the access to them must of course be recognised as a basic need of people. You cannot and you must not lock them away.

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  1. Markus Hefti says:

    Unverhältnismässige und existenzbedrohende Beschlüsse „ unserer „
    Politiker schüren das Unverständnis in der Bevölkerung. Aber da sie nie für ihre Fehler
    zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden ist es ihnen scheinbar Egal ☹️

    • Danke für Ihren Kommentar. Dass es Massnahmen gegen die Covid-19-Pandemie braucht, stellen wir nicht in Frage. Es braucht allerdings differenziertere Massnahmen, die gewisse Wirtschaftszweige gegenüber anderen nicht benachteiligen.
      Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO

      • Ndiaye says:

        Une contribution de haute facture . La culture inspire de belles ouvertures au monde .
        Alassane ndiaye membre Suisa Sénégal

Leave a Reply

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A year ago, on 28 February 2020, the first restrictions for cultural events were adopted. Initially events were limited to 1,000 people, then the first lockdown occurred in mid-March. Thanks to precautionary measures, small rule relaxations were granted in the summer, but they were gradually reversed in autumn. Since mid-January 2021, we have been stuck in the second lockdown: without music events, without access to real – non-virtual – cultural experiences. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO, considers the arts and culture as an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. (Photo: Beat Felber)

In order to stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus, the authorities initiated drastic measures. In principle, service ranges outside your daily needs can only be accessed with difficulty, or they are...read more

Planning ahead in a crisis situation

Advance planning is particularly important in times of crisis. During the December 2020 meetings of the Board, SUISA looked at the key issue, budgetting, and other relevant topics for the future. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board of Directors: Planning ahead in a crisis situation

Despite a bleak budget forecast, SUISA makes music possible, also in 2021. The photo shows a snapshot of last year’s Label Suisse where SUISA contributed as a sponsoring partner. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The SUISA Board of Directors dedicated its December meetings mainly to the 2021 budget. During the current crisis situation due to the pandemic, the projections are even more difficult, compared to 2019. It is possible that there may be major deviations regarding the degree of how the budget is met. In addition, the 2020 budget was revised last year at the end of April during the running financial year and the Executive Committee worked on the basis of a corona budget with new targets for the remaining eight months.

In December, the Board of Directors approved the following cornerstones for the 2021 budget:

2021 income has been budgeted at 20.7% less than the results from 2019, i.e. the financial year before the start of the crisis. Compared to the very cautious corona budget for 2020, however, it is 6.7% higher. The income from performing rights is set at 37% below the 2019 figures. This is due to the event bans resulting from corona ordinances and regulations.

The 2021 costs were budgeted at about 5% less than those for 2019. They are, however, 20% lower than the figure provided in the revised corona budget 2020.

Several factors play a role when it comes to how cost is developing: Apart from savings in terms of personnel, there are significant cost segments in the IT and securities expenses. Savings are planned for personnel costs, on the one hand due to retirements and associated restructuring, and on the other hand due to the outsourcing of 11 staff into the subsidiary Mint Digital Services AG.

When it comes to the IT segment, the Board of Directors thinks it is more important to maintain innovation and to partially expand on it in order to retain competitiveness than to just implement mere saving measures. Efforts to save money which are too strict often backfire and lead to an unwanted slowing down of the development of our service ranges.

Finally, the securities expenses are a budget item which is very hard to estimate per se. Luckily, the Board of Directors could establish that the financial markets have meanwhile recovered from their collapse in March 2020 and that financial investments are thus again back on the levels of last year. For 2021, the Board has budgeted a much lower finance expenditure than in the 2020 corona budget.

Despite the bleak budget outlook, the Board of Directors decided that the cost deductions for the 2021 distributions should remain unchanged. Executive Committee and Board of Directors expect that the amounts from released liabilities can compensate for the decrease in revenue and thus for an increase in the cost to revenue ratio.

New service range catalogue and minimum fee for SUISA membership

The Board of Directors also covered the service range offered to members and principals in its December meeting. SUISA now holds more than 12,600 members who are entitled to vote and 26,700 principals. Unfortunately, of the 40,000 rights holders, only 60% generate significant income. More than a third of all entitled rights holders never receive a distribution because their works are neither performed, recorded, broadcast nor used online. All rights holders were able to use all of SUISA’s service ranges in the past. The digitisation led to the creation of online services (“My account” portal). Self-service options available in the portal for rights holders are going to be further expanded.

The Executive Committee thus worked out proposals how costs could be saved by offering service ranges to principals only via online features. This measure would save working time and thus staff costs. As a consequence, the Board of Directors now decided to adopt the conditions for membership. From now on persons who have been principals with SUISA for at least one year and have been paid out a minimum of CHF 3,000 (previously CHF 2,000) will become members of SUISA. Principals shall, from 2022 onwards, only be able to access SUISA’s range of services via the online portal “my account”.

Changes in the distribution and investment rules

Further business discussed at Board level was the approval of new distribution rules, among other for the collections from blank media levies and the change of the investment rules regarding the criterion of sustainability of financial investments.

Flexible management in times of crisis

Finally, the Board of Directors decided to create a conference of Presidents which is meant to replace the previous corona task force. Based on the reporting of the Executive Committee, it is scheduled to determine the impact of the ordinances and regulations by the authorities on SUISA’s business on a monthly basis and highlight need for action to the Board of Directors. Members of the conference of Presidents are Géraldine Savary, Roman Camenzind, Rainer Bischof, Marco Neeser and Xavier Dayer.

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Negotiating in the age of corona … and with coronaNegotiating in the age of corona … and with corona Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. Read more
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  1. hermann says:

    Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren
    ich habe ihren Artikel mit Aufmerksamkeit gelesen und ich habe absolut Verständnis für die Aussagen und Denkweisen. Sie haben die Aufgabe ihre Mitglieder und Auftraggeber bestmöglich zu versorgen.
    Meine Sicht der Dinge ist etwas differenzierter. Die vielen Betriebe und Vereine die durch Covid 19 stark eingeschränkt wurden, von Bundesgeldern und auch von rückzahlbaren Krediten (Covid19-Krediten) belastet sind, sollen den Jahresbeitrag ohne Berücksichtigung der aktuellen Situation bezahlen.
    Das sehe ich auf keinen Fall so, denn der FC Ebikon ist einer der betroffenen Fussballvereine in der Schweiz, die ihren Betrieb einstellen musste. Das heisst, das der Trainingsbetrieb und aber auch der Betrieb unseres Clubhauses eingestellt werden musste, dies wurde so angeordnet. Somit hatten wir nicht die Möglichkeit das gesellschaftliche Leben, den Clubbetrieb mit Musik, Filmen, Videos etc zu nützen. Das heisst konkret, dass wir die Rechnung nicht in diesem Umfange bezahlen werden, sondern im Umfange der Nutzungsmöglichkeiten die staatlich verordnet sind.
    Falls der Trainingsbetrieb per 1.3. oder dann hoffentlich per 1.4.21 wieder gestartet werden kann, erwarte ich eine angepasste Rechnung von Ihnen. Weiter hätte ich erwartet, dass sie der aktuellen Corona Situation Rechnung tragen und sie eine partnerschaftliche und faire Rechnung versenden.
    Für eine Stellungnahme bitte ich sie und grüsse Sie freundlich
    Sebastian Hermann
    Finanzchef FC Ebikon

    • Sehr geehrter Herr Hermann

      Danke für Ihre Nachricht.

      Die SUISA ist sich bewusst, dass viele Betriebe und auch Sportvereine wie der FC Ebikon unter den Folgen der behördlichen Massnahmen zur Eindämmung der Corona-Pandemie leiden. Denn den Musikschaffenden, den Mitgliedern der SUISA, ergeht es in diesen schwierigen Zeiten gleich.

      Damit verbunden hält die SUISA ihre Dienstleistung aufrecht, öffentliche Musiknutzungen zu erlauben, aber hat schon im Frühling 2020 zugunsten der Lizenznehmerinnen und -nehmer einige ihrer Modalitäten den ausserordentlichen Umständen angepasst.

      Die Kundinnen und Kunden der SUISA sind in den verschiedensten Wirtschaftszweigen tätig. Teilweise sind und waren aufgrund der behördlichen Verordnungen die Musiknutzungen sogar regional unterschiedlich verunmöglicht. Für die nachweislich nicht erfolgten Nutzungen entfallen die Vergütungen für die Urheberrechte.

      Damit der Nachlass korrekt dem individuellen Einzelfall entsprechend in Abzug gebracht werden kann, kommen aus administrativ-technischen Gründen differenzierte Verfahren zur Anwendung. Speziell bei Lizenznehmerinnen und -nehmern des Gemeinsamen Tarifs 3a (GT 3a) für Hintergrundunterhaltung können die Termine der Betriebsschliessungen von Unternehmen zu Unternehmen sehr stark variieren.

      Die konkreten Daten der Betriebsschliessung können deshalb über ein elektronisches Kontaktformular gemeldet werden. Nach Prüfung der Angaben erfolgt eine Gutschrift gemäss dem Gemeinsamen Tarif 3a. Der Wert dieser Gutschrift kann je nach behördlich verordneten Schliessungen wegen Covid-19 variieren.Die Gutschrift wird in der folgenden Jahresrechnung abgezogen.

      Das Kontaktformular steht zur Verfügung unter: http://www.suisa.ch/3a. Dort sind auch weitere Informationen zu finden, wie die SUISA ihren Kundinnen und Kunden entgegenkommt: http://www.suisa.ch/de/suisa/massnahmen-der-suisa-bezueglich-der-corona-pandemie/informationen-fuer-kunden.html

      Für Fragen stehen wir Ihnen selbstverständlich gerne zur Verfügung.
      Freundliche Grüsse
      Kundendienst GT 3a

Leave a Reply

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Advance planning is particularly important in times of crisis. During the December 2020 meetings of the Board, SUISA looked at the key issue, budgetting, and other relevant topics for the future. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board of Directors: Planning ahead in a crisis situation

Despite a bleak budget forecast, SUISA makes music possible, also in 2021. The photo shows a snapshot of last year’s Label Suisse where SUISA contributed as a sponsoring partner. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The SUISA Board of Directors dedicated its December meetings mainly to the 2021 budget. During the current crisis situation due to the pandemic, the projections are even more difficult, compared to 2019. It is possible that there may be major deviations regarding the degree of how the budget is met. In addition, the 2020 budget was revised last...read more

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

The tariffs that are being negotiated now, during the corona crisis, are intended to apply in better times when music will hopefully be played again. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The dynamics have changed. Talks are now held mostly by videoconference. In other words, human relations take place through an interposed screen. This makes it more difficult to observe non-verbal reactions to a proposal, or simply to understand one’s counterparts. We must adapt … and regret the days when a handshake symbolised agreement.

Moreover, the crisis tends to freeze negotiating positions. On the one hand, the economy is in trouble: large events are banned, and the country goes from lockdown, to unlockdown, to re-lockdown. On the other, artists’ and creators’ revenues are in free fall. Under the circumstances, it is more difficult to make concessions and reach a compromise. Everyone is determined to protect what little they have left.

So what strategy should SUISA now adopt?

Firstly, certain sectors are clearly less impacted by the crisis than others. Online usages, for example, are not lagging: people are too scared – or are not allowed – to go to the cinema, so they watch a film on VoD. Music streaming is also doing well. These are therefore the areas SUISA should focus on to negotiate the best terms for its members. Who, for their part, are having a truly hard time.

“It is our duty today to prepare for the future and to support the equitable implementation of legal principles in favour of our members.”

We must, however, avoid one pitfall. In many areas, the fall in users’ revenues automatically has negative consequences for authors: after all, authors’ royalties are calculated as a percentage of users’ revenues. Users should not take advantage of the crisis to obtain better terms from SUISA. Otherwise authors will lose twice. We have had to remind our partners of this.

But the hard truth is that the live entertainment sector is in agony. Last spring, we interrupted certain negotiations hoping to start them again when the sun came back. After a short reprieve, the clouds are now building up again … and the tariff process takes time. Now, at the end of 2020, we are negotiating tariffs which will only come into force in 2022 when (as we dare hope) the crisis will be well behind us. It is our duty today to prepare for the future and to support the equitable implementation of legal principles in favour of our members. That is certainly not easy when our partners are losing money. But it is our responsibility for a better future.

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Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

The tariffs that are being negotiated now, during the corona crisis, are intended to apply in better times when music will hopefully be played again. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The dynamics have changed. Talks are now held mostly by videoconference. In other words, human relations take place through an interposed screen. This makes it more difficult to observe non-verbal reactions to...read more

Legal consequences of concert cancellations for Covid-19

Regrettably, owing to the coronavirus, some musical events have had to be cancelled. What are the consequences of such cancellations for the artists and organisers concerned? Is the artist still entitled to the contractual fee? Text by Céline Troillet

Legal consequences of concert cancellations for Covid-19

Empty stages and concert halls: what is the legal situation regarding events cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions? (Photo: Disq)

The coronavirus is a source of discomfort and uncertainty for us all. We must adapt as well as we can to these unprecedented circumstances since they are, for the time being at least, beyond our control. There are no clear answers to the health and economic issues that this crisis has raised, and there is great legal uncertainty. There are many outstanding questions.

Do you have a contract?

If you have a contract (or electronic exchange), see if it regulates the cancellation of the concert on grounds of force majeure or pandemic, and what effect such a cancellation has on fees. Albeit possible, this is seldom the case. Unfortunately, when a contract does provide for such cancellation, the parties usually agree that fees are not due in that event. Contracts rarely provide for a reduction in costs or the repayment of expenses already sustained.

A. Absence of a contract

If there is no written agreement, what legal provisions are applicable? To find out, you must proceed step by step:

1. Consider what type of contract under the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) might be binding on you: Swiss law, unfortunately, does not prescribe how an artist’s engagement contract is to be legally classified, and there is no precedent or case law in this regard. Therefore, there are several possible interpretations. Moreover, each case must be considered individually and you should seek legal advice in this regard.

The possible types of contract used for artists are: the contract for works and services (Article 363 et seq. CO), the employment contract (Article 319 et seq. CO), or the agency contract (Article 394 et seq. CO). The conditions of the individual contract types, and the differences between them, are described in section B below.

2. Once it is established what type of contract you are bound by, check the following explanatory notes on the types of contract (also see section B) to what extent compensation might be possible.

3. If the contract does not match any of the contract types provided for in the Code of Obligations, reference must be made to a general provision of contract law dealing with the consequences of non-performance of an obligation., i.e. Article 119 CO.

⇒ Principle and conditions of Article 119 CO:

This article stipulates that if, after a contract is concluded, circumstances intervene which make it impossible for one of the parties to perform its obligations (for reasons not attributable to that party), then the party is no longer bound by its contractual obligations. The law considers “subsequent” impossibility (i.e. after the contract is concluded), which presupposes the realisation of the three following conditions:

• the obligor (the party liable for performance of an obligation) is no longer able to perform (objective impossibility);
• the impossibility must arise from circumstances after the conclusion of the contract. Chance occurrences (beyond the control of a party) are a good example;
• the impossibility is not attributable to the obligor (it is not his fault if performance is made impossible).

⇒ Objective impossibility not attributable to the obligor:

It is for the court to determine whether the obligation is impossible to perform for reasons not attributable to the obligor.

When public order or internal security is threatened, as in the case of a pandemic, the Federal Council, for Switzerland, is obligated under the Federal Constitution to issue ordinances and take emergency decisions (Article 185 of the Federal Constitution). Within the framework of its discretionary power, the court is required to take into account the rules and decisions issued by the federal authorities. It follows that, in the case of concert cancellations proceeding from official decisions, the existence of an objective impossibility not attributable to the obligor would probably be recognised.

⇒ Legal consequences for the parties:

An impossibility within the meaning of Article 119 CO releases the obligor (the party who has to perform an obligation) from its obligation as well as the creditor (the party for which the obligor is required to perform) (Article 119(2) CO).

In other words, when a contract is concluded (between an artist and a concert organiser), the parties (the artist and the organiser) are both released from their obligations (the artist is no longer required to perform on stage; the organiser is no longer required to pay the artist a fee) if, through no fault of the artist’s (i.e. because of Covid-19 and not for a reason attributable to the artist), the person who was supposed to act (the artist) is prevented from fulfilling his obligation (to perform on stage).

B. The individual types of contract under the Swiss Code of Obligations

The contract for works and services (Article 363 et seq. CO):

Generally, the performances of an artist or group of artists fall within the scope of the contract for works and services (the artist delivers a single performance, based on a pre-defined programme, which is equated with a work).

Here, the case of force majeure is governed by Article 378 CO. This article provides that, where completion of a work is rendered impossible by a chance occurrence affecting the principal, the contractor is entitled to payment for the work already done and to reimbursement of any expenses incurred that were not included in the price.

If a concert is formally cancelled for coronavirus-related reasons, the impossibility for the principal (the organiser of the concert) to perform the contract should be recognised insofar as the principal is unable to stage the artist’s concert through no fault of his own. As a result, Article 378 CO would apply, and the artist would be entitled to remuneration for any work already performed (e.g. rehearsals) and his expenses.

The employment contract (Article 319et seq. CO):

Under certain circumstances, the artist’s contract can be deemed an employment contract (a subordinate relationship between the artist and the organiser, where the artist’s obligation to play music is determined by the employer’s needs rather than by his own as an artist).

Article 324 CO regulates the employee’s salary if he is prevented from working. Whether or not this provision applies to cases of force majeure, i.e. the cancellation of a concert by reason of coronavirus-related measures, is disputed. Most would answer in the affirmative, which would mean that the artist would be entitled to continued pay.

Agency contract (Article 394 et seq. CO):

If the artist’s contract falls neither under the contract of works and services nor under the employment contract, it will generally be classified as an agency contract (the artist seen as an agent performing a service for the organiser).

The agency contract does not provide for cases of force majeure. As a result, if a concert is cancelled for coronavirus-related reasons, Article 119 CO would probably apply and, accordingly, no remuneration would be payable. A reservation should be made in the event of untimely cancellation (e.g. immediately before the scheduled performance). In that case, compensation (but not the fee) could be granted to the artist for the loss sustained (Article 404 CO).

C. Conclusion

It is important to address the possible cancellation of the concert and the consequences on your legal relationship in the artist’s contract. If these points are regulated and the circumstance occurs, the artist and the organiser know what they can expect and claim from each other and can thus avoid financial and other damages.

In absence of a written contract, or if the contract does not regulate this point, the situation is likely to be more difficult. Since the legal nature of the artist’s contract is not clear, the relationship between the organiser and the artist will have to be interpreted to determine which of the three contract categories it is subject to (contract for works and services, employment contract or agency contract). The legal consequences will vary depending on the applicable rules. Payment of the artist’s fee will be justified in some cases, and not in others.

As you can see, there is no clear-cut answer determining the legal consequences of concert cancellations due to coronavirus. The circumstances must be appraised case by case. In absence of a contract, the ideal solution would be for the parties to agree a compromise. A postponement of the service or the total or partial reimbursement of your expenses could be possible solutions.

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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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Regrettably, owing to the coronavirus, some musical events have had to be cancelled. What are the consequences of such cancellations for the artists and organisers concerned? Is the artist still entitled to the contractual fee? Text by Céline Troillet

Legal consequences of concert cancellations for Covid-19

Empty stages and concert halls: what is the legal situation regarding events cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions? (Photo: Disq)

The coronavirus is a source of discomfort and uncertainty for us all. We must adapt as well as we can to these unprecedented circumstances since they are, for the time being at least, beyond our control. There are no clear answers to the health and economic issues that this crisis has raised, and there is great legal uncertainty. There are many outstanding questions.

Do you have a contract?

If you have a contract (or electronic exchange), see...read more