Author Archives: Manu Leuenberger

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

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

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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

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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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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.

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.

Your email address will not be published.

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

Online licensing activities require early work registrations

From a sales perspective, online music distribution provides enormous opportunities. With little effort, music can be made available to a global audience within an instant. The distribution of copyright royalties, however, is complex when it comes to online usages. This is also due to the fact that the processes differ from those for performing and broadcasting rights. The most important advice is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, then publish it online. Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger

Online licensing activities require early work registrations

If you distribute your music via an online provider, it will be advantageous if you stick to the following rule of thumb: First, register the work with SUISA, then publish it online. (Photo: Anutr Yossundara / Shutterstock.com)

When it comes to the internet, trade activities are not halted by national borders. Especially in cases when the goods are not physical but only purely digital in terms of their transport from the provider to the customer – as is the case for music. Online music providers such as Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube take their products directly to the audience via streaming or download: On its journey between the internet platform and the playback devices of the listeners, the music product does not pass customs, nor are there any intermediaries (apart from the telecoms provider of the internet access).

The following is decisive in this chain of commerce: When it comes to online music-distribution, territorial limitations have not only been lifted to a great extent for the consumer but also with regards to the licensing of the copyright. The distribution process differs fundamentally from the existing practice in the “offline sector”, i.e. for performing or broadcasting rights or the licensing of sound recordings. SUISA only issues licences for the territory of Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein in the offline sector, but for all works that have been used, including those of the members of our sister societies abroad. Reciprocal representation agreements ensure that the members of other sister societies obtain the share in the works that have been used in Switzerland. The same also applies vice versa: If works by SUISA members are performed abroad, the sister society in charge for the territory in question collects the remuneration and passes it to SUISA for onward distribution to its rightsholders.

This works differently in the online sector. Another practice has established itself since the Recommendation of the EU Competition Commission from 2005, according to which more competition should be created during the online exploitation of copyright. The corresponding EU Directive which was determined five years ago states that each rightsholder can choose for their online licences whether they want to issue them directly or whether they wish to instruct a partner such as a collective management organisation of their choice to manage them across Europe (also known as pan-European).

SUISA active since 2012 for online direct licensing

The major music publishers have assigned the rights management for the shares in their works on a cross-border basis 10 years ago. This type of licensing is called direct licensing. In the field of cross-border usages, rightsholders, i.e. publishers or collective management organisations, specifically account the royalties for their repertoire directly with the “Digital Service Providers” (in short: DSPs) such as Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube. This means: If users abroad listen to works by SUISA members on platforms by the online music providers, SUISA collects the remuneration for such usages directly from the provider. There are no more “intermediaries” between SUISA and the Digital Service Provider as it exists in the traditional offline sector by way of a foreign sister society.

Many societies in Europe have already transitioned to this global direct licensing practice of their members’ works. Since 2012, SUISA has been licensing the rights of its members not only for Switzerland but also for other territories on a cross-border basis, and that with a constantly increasing number of online music providers. In the beginning, these included the European countries, since 2018, more and more territories are added outside of Europe. In the meantime, SUISA is usually issuing global licences to the DSPs with the exception of the following: USA, Canada, South America, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Syria and Australasia. There are plans, however, to expand into these territories in the future.

Direct licensing has had the consequence that SUISA could only issue licence invoices for works for which it had the relevant documentation, since it is the individual work share that is now relevant, not just the fact whether an author is a SUISA member or not.

Nevertheless, it happens often that Digital Service Providers receive invoices from several collective management organisations for shares in the same work. This leads to so-called “overclaims” or “underclaims”. Such overclaims or underclaims (in terms of rights) result from a lack of clarity among the societies issuing the invoices who can claim the remuneration for which shares in a work in which territory for their principals. There is often also a situation of “no claims” i.e. when no society issues an invoice.

This has led to a scenario where the providers paid rightsholders more than the agreed remuneration in the case of “overclaims” and too little or nothing in the case of “underclaims” or “no claims”. There are also Service Providers which withhold the payment in the case of “overclaims”. If thus the claims of all invoicing collective management organisations for a work exceed 100% (shares), no royalties are paid as long as it is not defined who is actually permitted to invoice for which share.

Invoicing process with online music providers

A working group of the collective management organisations, major publisher and the most important online music providers has taken care of this issue and agreed to the following solution:

Issuing invoices to a DSP happens in several steps. The collective management organisation receives usage data from the DSP. Based on these usage reports, which contain a period of one or three months, the provider receives an invoice for all work shares in titles for which the society holds the usage rights of an author or a publisher. If the invoices that have been issued by various collective management organisations do not match for one work title, so-called “disputes” arise.

The societies have 18 months to resolve such conflicts of claims. Within said period, SUISA checks the data of the usage reports once more and compares it with the updated SUISA work documentation. If, during this search, new correlating entries are detected, they will be invoiced retroactively. Whatever has not been resolved after 18 months shall fall under the so-called “residuals”; this is the licensing remuneration for work shares which have not or only partially been invoiced (“underclaims” and “no claims”).

The “residuals”, the remuneration that has not been claimed from the DSP from “underclaims” and “no claims” shall be paid out by SUISA as a supplement to the works used in the same distribution period. A work that has not been registered at that point could therefore not receive a supplement.

Register the work first, then publish it online

The most important advice for SUISA members who make their compositions available via online music distribution channels, is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, do not publish it online before!

If you follow this rule of thumb, you create a basis whereby works can be detected from the beginning in online usage reports and can be invoiced to the Digital Service Providers. The distribution process with the online music providers is subject to deadlines and the attention of the audience on the internet is often rather ephemeral. When you register works too late, there is the risk that usages are not detected and royalties cannot be allocated.

If the work registration takes place before the first recording of the work is published for streaming or downloading, SUISA can claim the work shares with the Digital Service Providers from the very beginning. In order to enable a simple automatic identification, the metadata of the works registration should be the same as the data which the DSP has for the work.

Metadata is additional information and particulars which describes other data in more detail. Thanks to such additional information, it is possible to determine and thus find individual elements during searches within big data volumes. A musical work title ideally comprises, apart from the usual details on composer, lyricist, publisher etc., information on the performer(s), and, if applicable, alternative work titles of versions in other languages as well as remix/edit versions, such as “song title – radio edit” or “song title – extended version”. Complete and correct metadata provides a great advantage when it comes to finding a concordance during the automated matching of the usage reports with the works database.

These requirements are vital for a work to be correctly distributed in all of the territories directly licensed by SUISA and with all of the online music providers directly licensed by SUISA.

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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.

From a sales perspective, online music distribution provides enormous opportunities. With little effort, music can be made available to a global audience within an instant. The distribution of copyright royalties, however, is complex when it comes to online usages. This is also due to the fact that the processes differ from those for performing and broadcasting rights. The most important advice is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, then publish it online. Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger

Online licensing activities require early work registrations

If you distribute your music via an online provider, it will be advantageous if you stick to the following rule of thumb: First, register the work with SUISA, then publish it online. (Photo: Anutr Yossundara / Shutterstock.com)

When it comes to the internet, trade activities are not halted by national...read more

Income and expenditure, investments and an anniversary

A wide-ranging list of topics was on the agenda for discussion at the meetings of the SUISA Board on 28 and 29 September 2020. For the first time after the disruption caused by corona, a part of the meeting participants met in Lausanne while respecting the protective measures in person, while some members of the Board of Directors joined via videoconferencing from their home office. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Income and expenditure, investments and an anniversary

Snapshot of the Label Suisse Festival 2020 in Lausanne (to be seen in the picture: Corin Curschellas and Ursina Giger from the trio La Triada). The rights management monopoly of SUISA has a central significance for the cultural development and promotion of music in its entire diversity in Switzerland; that is the persuasion of the SUISA Board of Directors. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The Board of Directors took note of the fact that the situation regarding the collections in the crisis year have, so far, remained stable compared to the assumptions made in April. Expectations made in the corona budget that had been created in the spring during lockdown were even slightly exceeded on the collections side. Nevertheless, it is very likely that SUISA will close its 2020 financial year with a decrease in income of about 25% compared to the previous year. The expenditure so far is also within the economy budget, and at 12.7% less expenses even better than anticipated.

Christoph Trummer, Head of Political Projects at the Professional Association of Freelance Musicians, Sonoart, informed the Board members about the current state of affairs and the future development of the support measures for music creators. It shows that the cultural associations managed during the covid-19 crisis to take a joint and persistent stance vis-à-vis Parliament, but also offices and authorities, to speak with one voice and to obtain the support for creators and artists that is so urgently needed.

Expenses per tariff from collections to distribution

A rather pleasant result of the cost unit calculation was presented. Said calculation shows how high the expenditure per tariff is from collection to distribution. As a matter of fact, expenses are not the same for all tariffs, depending whether we must issue invoices to many individual customers or just a few, and whether the market survey and coverage is costly.

The costs for the collections and the distribution of copyright remuneration for concerts are, for example, lower than for events held by clubs or associations. In the former case, we often deal with professional event organisers and promoters who usually are aware of their duties when it comes to authors. In the case of events held by associations, sports clubs or office parties the people in charge organising these events often have to be made aware of their obligations.

Cost shares overall did, however, fall per tariff in the survey year 2019. This is because higher secondary income from securities income could be used to cover a large part of the costs. The SUISA Executive Committee is going to continue to explore all possibilities to process collections and distributions in a more cost-effective way. An important element for this shall be the continued automation of the licensing process: Event organisers and promoters shall be able to send online notifications for their events, in an uncomplicated manner. If they do not do so, the system is set to find events on the basis of key word searches and initiate the collection process.

Financial affairs

For the subsidiary Mint Digital Services, the SUISA Board of Directors approved the hypothecation of a securities depot as a guarantee, instead of the guarantee of surety planned for the summer for the licensing of large publishing catalogues.

The Board of Directors is, pursuant to the Articles of Association, responsible for the financial matters of SUISA. In general, the monies are supposed to be invested for the period which lies between the time of receipt of payment from the licensees until the distribution work has been finished and the payments have been made to rights owners. The investments are made on the basis of regulations. Due to the initiative of a member of the Board of Directors, this set of regulations including “security” and “reasonable return of investment” was extended by the criterion “sustainability”.

Past and future

SUISA turns 100 in 2023. The first preliminary preparations and planning work for the anniversary were launched. Inspired by a suggestion of the SUISA Communications Department, deliberations were made how the round birthday of the cooperative could be celebrated adequately. Possible jubilee projects are set to be worked on further.

Furthermore, the Board took note of a legal expert opinion on SUISA’s monopoly position and its future on a licensing market for copyright which has begun to open up. The rights management monopoly has already disappeared in the online rights sector. Latest developments show that SUISA is also facing increased competition in other rights management areas such as by foreign agencies which directly license concerts that take place in Switzerland. In the meantime, SUISA remains, due to the statutory provisions, obliged to a large degree to manage the rights belonging to its field of activity as comprehensively as possible, the expert opinion states.

The Board of Directors holds the view that the rights management monopoly of SUISA needs to be strengthened because it has a central significance for the cultural development, the promotion of music in its entire diversity in Switzerland for authors, music promoters and for consumers. The Executive Committee was tasked to take the necessary measures to inform the authorities and the public.

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A wide-ranging list of topics was on the agenda for discussion at the meetings of the SUISA Board on 28 and 29 September 2020. For the first time after the disruption caused by corona, a part of the meeting participants met in Lausanne while respecting the protective measures in person, while some members of the Board of Directors joined via videoconferencing from their home office. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Income and expenditure, investments and an anniversary

Snapshot of the Label Suisse Festival 2020 in Lausanne (to be seen in the picture: Corin Curschellas and Ursina Giger from the trio La Triada). The rights management monopoly of SUISA has a central significance for the cultural development and promotion of music in its entire diversity in Switzerland; that is the persuasion of the SUISA Board of...read more

The Zwahlen/Bergeron duo want to make the previously unheard audible – and visible

On the one hand, the centuries-old tradition of choral music and, on the other, the almost endless possibilities offered by electronic music. Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron experiment in the area of tension between these two polar extremes with the aim of creating something completely new. The Get Going! grant is supporting them with this project. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

The Zwahlen/Bergeron duo want to make the previously unheard audible - and visible

Félix Bergeron and Jérémie Zwahlen (Photos: Stephane Winter & Laura Morier-Genoud; Alain Kissling)

As is generally known, opposites attract. Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron, both 33 years old, sit in a café in Lausanne, discussing their project to redefine the long tradition of choral music with the aid of electronic experimentation. Bergeron also uses the conversation about this project for a brainstorming session. Exactly as it should be for a drummer, when the rhythms become more complex, he accurately describes more and more options of how it would be possible to combine old and new, traditional and avant-garde. Zwahlen listens with stoic calm, from time to time making his own contribution with incisive sentences. He does not seem to be a stranger to this kind of dialogue. “Félix is like an extremely strong cigarette and I am the super-filter that is used to smoke it,” reckons Zwahlen and both of them laugh.

Actually, when they were young the two of them went to the same school near Lausanne, after which they went their separate ways. As early as when he was just six years old, Bergeron played the drums, but never found real fulfilment until he heard Lucas Niggli play a drum solo at the Willisau Jazz Festival. “As well as drums, he used electronic equipment. I was completely gobsmacked and knew that was what I wanted to do,” recalls Bergeron. Zwahlen, on the other hand, grew up in the brass tradition and was a trumpeter in a band, just like his father and grandfather before him. For her part, his mother sang in a choir. “At grammar school,” according to Zwahlen, “they told me I would make a good music teacher and that’s how I started my training.”

Choral and electronic music

They both attended the Haute École de Musique Lausanne (HEMU), “but I studied jazz and Jérémie classical music”, comments Bergeron, adding “which were in two different buildings.” The thing both of them didn’t know: their life partners were friends and they eventually met again at a party after many years. When Zwahlen then asked Bergeron to provide electronic support for “Chœur Auguste”, the choir he led, they arrived at the idea of a collaboration which was intended to go above and beyond the familiar and what people had heard before. “Needless to say, people have amalgamated choral music with electronics before,” says Bergeron, “but in those cases, the organ or piano was simply replaced by a synthesizer. That kind of thing doesn’t interest us.”

Both of them are predestined to tread new ground, and in their individual projects they were already scratching the stylistic limits and attempting to remap the musical landscape. With his incisive and conceptually unusual arrangements of the music of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Camille and Queen, Zwahlen not only redefined the laws of choral music, but also regarded the choir in its entirety as one body: “The choir is like a sculpture that breathes and which you can work on. And Félix also works with vibrations you can feel physically. In the end, you must be able to literally feel the music.”

Music as sculpture

In fact, Bergeron is heavily influenced by the sculptural. Apart from his many projects ranging between abstract improvisation, folk, punk and jazz, he also works for the theatre and dance companies. In his “Brush Paintings”, chance results in visual art, in that he dips his drumming brushes in paint and equips his cymbals with canvasses. “In spontaneous work with electronics, it is also possible to work with arbitrariness. That interests me. I see countless possibilities there for breaking down the traditional forms of choral music.”

Music as sculpture, which should also reveal to the audience the secrets behind its creation. “We want the audience to see what is happening. How composition, chance, arrangements and improvisation all influence one another. The audience should be able to experience our project with all their senses,” is the way Zwahlen describes the starting point and stresses: “It is my obsessive desire to reprocess all music genres in such a way that they offer pleasure to everyone. Irrespective of whether we are dealing with classical music, folk, jazz or experimental music.”

They both think that there are so many musical, content-related and visual possibilities, with which you can experiment in such a project, and they emphasise just how important the factors of time and money are for such an undertaking. “Thanks to the grant from Get Going!, for the first time it became possible for us to tread new ground to such a great extent,” beams Bergeron.

Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron: two people obsessed with music, who also pass on their enthusiasm to coming generations as teachers at HEMU and the Ecole de jazz et musique actuelle (EJMA) in Lausanne and – in the case of Bergeron – also at the Ecole Jeunesse & Musique in Blonay. Together they form the only cigarette in the world that is not damaging to health. Quite the opposite.

www.felixbergeronmusic.ch
www.choeurauguste.ch

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!”, creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. Each year, our Portrait Series profiles recipients of Get Going! funding. The invitation to apply for 2020 expires at the end of August.

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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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On the one hand, the centuries-old tradition of choral music and, on the other, the almost endless possibilities offered by electronic music. Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron experiment in the area of tension between these two polar extremes with the aim of creating something completely new. The Get Going! grant is supporting them with this project. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

The Zwahlen/Bergeron duo want to make the previously unheard audible - and visible

Félix Bergeron and Jérémie Zwahlen (Photos: Stephane Winter & Laura Morier-Genoud; Alain Kissling)

As is generally known, opposites attract. Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron, both 33 years old, sit in a café in Lausanne, discussing their project to redefine the long tradition of choral music with the aid of electronic experimentation. Bergeron also uses the conversation about this project for a brainstorming session. Exactly as it should be for a drummer,...read more