The main items on the Board’s spring agenda are the approval of the annual financial statements, status report and business report and their referral to the General Meeting, as well as the preparation of the agenda for the General Meeting.
SUISA’s 2019 financial statements show highly satisfactory results. Royalty revenues totaled CHF 155.25m, a 3% increase over the prior year. As a result, after deducting costs, CHF 129.34m will be distributed to beneficiaries in Switzerland and abroad in 2020. Moreover, thanks to significant investment income, an additional 7% can be distributed on all settlements.
Written vote instead of a 2020 General Meeting
The Board decided that, by way of exception, the business on the agenda for this year’s General Meeting will be put to a written vote since there is no assurance that the meeting scheduled for 26 June at the Bierhübeli in Bern will effectively be able to take place. The documentation for voting by correspondence will be sent to members at the end of May.
Two by-elections to the Committees are also on General Meeting’s agenda – and will be held this time in writing: the Board proposes Michael Hug to succeed Grégoire Liechti in the Distribution and Works Committee. Melanie Oesch is the designated candidate to succeed the late Reto Parolari as Member of the Board.
Course of business during the corona crisis: the Board establishes a task force
Apart from the usual items on the agenda for the spring meeting, discussions in the Board focused on corona-related threats, or rather, on the consequences of business shutdowns and the ban on events. Meanwhile, it is known that no large concerts will take place until the end of August at least, and that smaller events will only be allowed under stringent health and security measures liable to impact audience size. It is quite conceivable that these restrictions will remain in force for a longer period.
Under the circumstances, we expect SUISA’s budget for revenues from concerts, events and music entertainment in the hospitality industry to be cut by half. This translates into a reduction of 25%, or CHF 38m, in SUISA’s total budgeted revenues. A more accurate forecast cannot yet be made given the lack of visibility until the end of the year. The Board has established a task force to examine, together with the Executive Committee, how the loss in revenue will impact the course of business, and to identify the necessary cost-cutting measures.
Developments in the online licensing market
Another important topic in the context of SUISA’s consolidated annual financial statements was the development of the online licensing market. For three years now, SUISA Digital Licensing has been licensing the rights of SUISA members not only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, but throughout Europe – and even worldwide where the agreements so allow – through Mint Digital Services, SUISA’s joint venture with SESAC, the US rights’ management organisation.
By pooling repertoires, SUISA has become an important provider of services in this field with Mint. The two start-up companies Mint and SUISA Digital Licensing are not yet profitable. The Board has therefore instructed the Executive Committee to prepare and present a detailed evaluation of the break-even prospects, calculated under various scenarios.
The next meetings of the Board, to be held in video conferencing again, are scheduled for 25 May and 25 June 2020.