Author Archives: Manu Leuenberger

Collective management is a service for music creators and music users alike

Whether it’s background music in businesses or the new blanket license deal covering videos with music on the internet for small businesses: In both cases, a lot of music by a lot of rightsholders (composers, lyricists, music publishers) is used by a large number of companies. SUISA acts as a point of contact for these companies as well as for the beneficiaries, simplifying the authorisation for the use of works and processing the due copyright royalties. By Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO

Collective management is a service for music creators and music users alike

With offers such as the newly introduced annual flat rate for online use of music in web videos, SUISA is simplifying how copyright royalties are processed, for customers and beneficiaries alike. (Photo: one photo / Shutterstock.com)

Up to now, you had to obtain a licence from SUISA for the copyright in accordance with Tariff VN for every single video with music on the internet. With this, the copyright was settled, and additional action was also required with regard to neighbouring rights (related rights). The whole licensing process was therefore complex and sometimes difficult to understand.

Joint licence for copyright and neighbouring rights

Together with Audion GmbH, SUISA has now developed a simpler, attractive licensing model for small enterprises of up to 49 staff and up to CHF 9m turnover. Against payment of an annual fee of CHF 344.00 (excl. VAT), small enterprises and individuals can put videos with music onto their own website as well as publish them on their own social media channels. Thanks to the collaboration between SUISA and Audion GmbH, the annual blanket fee is covering the acquisition of both copyright and neighbouring rights.

Not included in the package are advertising videos, pure music videos, videos with a production budget of more than CHF 15,000 and videos with a total playing time of more than 10 minutes. In addition, synchronisation rights must continue to be obtained directly from the publishers or the authors.

Audion GmbH – a rights agency

Audion GmbH is an independent rights agency founded in 2015 by IFPI Switzerland (the industry umbrella association of music labels in Switzerland), which brokers licenses for marginal uses of music recordings between users and music labels.

It is characteristic of Audion’s field of activity that it restricts itself selectively to niches where smaller and non-commercial users in particular face the administrative challenge of obtaining the necessary licences from a large number of music labels. Audion thus meets a user requirement and offers the choice of acquiring the necessary rights either directly from the rightsholders or as a rights bundle from Audion.

The landscape of music labels has changed dramatically with the development of digital distribution and marketing opportunities. Booking agencies, for example, are increasingly taking over label functions. It is therefore partly unclear where the rights need to be obtained from. Audion can help here by acquiring the rights for the user from the various labels.

Joint collection: Background music and videos on websites

As of 1 January 2019, SUISA will once again be responsible for all customers for the Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a, background music). Prior to this, Billag AG had been issuing the invoice. These customers are companies that play background music on their premises, broadcast TV programmes, use music on hold and/or publish videos with music on their websites. Customers can therefore be the same when it comes to using the music in background entertainment and in videos on websites. In both cases, a lot of music by a lot of rightsholders music publishers is used by a large customer group.

This inevitably leads to the requirement that we simplify the licensing of both uses and, in particular, to offer them together. For this purpose, the existing web portal for CT 3a licences is to be adapted in such a way that customers can register both uses at the same time and thus easily license their respective uses.

Outlook: Large enterprises

The newly introduced annual flat rate for the online use of music in web videos applies to small businesses. An offer for large companies – i.e. companies that employ more than 49 people or generate more than CHF 9m in annual sales – is currently being prepared with the aim of offering these companies a simple and adequate solution. As soon as all necessary measures and decisions have been taken on this issue, we will inform you.

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Whether it’s background music in businesses or the new blanket license deal covering videos with music on the internet for small businesses: In both cases, a lot of music by a lot of rightsholders (composers, lyricists, music publishers) is used by a large number of companies. SUISA acts as a point of contact for these companies as well as for the beneficiaries, simplifying the authorisation for the use of works and processing the due copyright royalties. By Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO

Collective management is a service for music creators and music users alike

With offers such as the newly introduced annual flat rate for online use of music in web videos, SUISA is simplifying how copyright royalties are processed, for customers and beneficiaries alike. (Photo: one photo / Shutterstock.com)

Up to now, you had to obtain a licence from SUISA for the copyright in accordance...read more

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Music is now consumed rather differently to how it was consumed 15 years ago: From the turnover of the Digital Service Providers, about 12 to 15 percent are allocated to authors, which results in royalties at a micro-penny -level per play. (Photo: LikeBerry)

Andreas Wegelin, let’s talk about proportions and size ratios. Streaming service providers such as Spotify, for example, pay composers micro-penny -amounts per play. If you extrapolate this, what is the percentage of the turnover?
Andreas Wegelin: If you only consider authors’ rights, that is about 12 to 15 percent of about 70% of the service provider’s total turnover. The rest is allocated to the recording, the producer, the artist. This roughly corresponds to the offline situation in Switzerland. Copyright for authors is governed by state-approved tariffs there. They are actually slightly lower. A monopoly thus does not bring about a better result for authors.

Why is there so little that comes together for the author? Without the author, the piece would not even exist for others to perform.
I completely agree with you. If a composer happens to be a good singer as well and thus performs his own songs, he gets more. But this is the same case for the offline sector. A singing author gets more from his record company than from us – because the producer provides the service provider with the music recording which can be played. It is not SUISA that does that but companies such as Sony, Universal etc. which therefore also hold the relevant market power.
Furthermore: Let’s compare the situation to the radio broadcasters: Radio addresses a multitude of listeners, streams one individual listener. If you break down the radio remuneration to listener levels, the amount is not much higher than that for streaming. A reason why streaming is even lower is that I nearly only have mainstream music on the radio. The selection of songs is therefore limited. In the case of streaming services, I also have niche repertoire. In other words (please don’t quote me on the figures), I have a “heavy rotation” on the radio with about 50 songs per month, and 1,000 songs on Spotify.

Can I assume that a service such as YouTube pays out to a similar extent as Spotify?
In the case of YouTube, one question needs to be asked which is difficult to answer: What do the 12 to 15 percent relate to? Spotify has subscription fees while YouTube only has advertising income: Is it thus 12 to 15% of the advertising revenue which has been generated in a specific country for a specific video during a specific period of time? And if there is no advertising shown on the video, is there no money, irrespective of how many thousands of clicks are shown in total?

With YouTube, you have the additional problem that everyone can upload everything without having to supply any rights information. How can you find out what belongs to whom?
YouTube’s approach is automation. This works to some extent, but there are also blatant mistakes with regards to the allocations. For such data volumes, however, it is only possible to do so by way of automation. For a total control, you would have to be able to track all sound files.

Does this mean, the future must be the upload filter?
There’s a huge debate on this topic at EU level. So far, the “safe harbor” principle has been applied in the EU, which said: A Digital Service Provider (DSP) is not responsible for the contents which are uploaded to their platforms. The regulation stems from 2002 and was intended to promote the development of the online data exchange. YouTube did not exist in those days. YouTube could then benefit from this regulation even though masses of protected contents are distributed via YouTube. In the meantime, the protection of the author has been enjoying greater importance again. YouTube, however, threatens now to block contents arguing it would be too complicated to provide for a settlement of the rights in each case. That way, certain contents would no longer be available and this would be a grave restriction of freedom of opinion.

Are there any alternatives?
You could introduce a statutory compensation claim for authors, similar to blank media levies for private copies. This would mean: YouTube is allowed to distribute contents but YouTube would have to pay for it by law. In the case of the blank media levy, the argumentation used to be: You cannot control what someone records onto a music cassette, so a blanket solution is required and it could be that you pay a remuneration of e.g. 5 Rappen for each blank medium per hour in favour of the authors. Something like this would also be possible for online usages but it is a topic that is highly controversial.

Which solution would be better for the authors?
For authors of our scale, a blanket arrangement would be better, for bigger rights holders, the right of interdiction currently in force would be better. It gives them enough power to negotiate with YouTube or Google directly. Google cannot just ignore them. We, however, had to first become active ourselves in order to speak with YouTube about a licence. That was also a reason for our Joint Venture and our approach to expand the repertoire we represent.

How long does it take to negotiate an agreement with a platform of such a magnitude?
Since we have been part of the Joint License and have been processing via Mint, we could shorten the duration. Depending on the provider, it lasts between one and eight months. And if you want to renew an agreement, you are looking at four to five months.

What kind of strategy does SUISA pursue in cases where agreement negotiations with a provider fail?
In such a case – it is rather rare, because, among reasonable business partners, you do find a solution – we must fight in court to get the recognition and the adequate remuneration for the use of the rights of our members.

How many DSPs are there in total?
Actually, there are too many (laughs). There are dozens. Of course, you start with the most important ones, i.e. the biggest. There are about 15. But Mint is planning to expand into other territories. In India, for example, the two big telecoms companies are also important music providers which results in new and different constellations.

I am a cooperative member of SUISA, may I see such agreements?
No. A provider wants to prevent competitors seeing their contracts. That is why there is always a confidentiality clause. SUISA cooperative members do, however, see what they get in the end. If they do not like this situation, they can always assign their rights to someone else. I doubt very much that they will be given access to such contracts there. That is a result of the competitive market.

In December 2019, it became known that Gema has bought a majority stake in Zebralution GmbH, a digital distributor. What does this development mean for SUISA?
Gema tries this way to be increasingly active in the business with data for the works of its members. By cooperating with a digital distributor, Gema can succeed in providing its members with 360-degree-service, which does not just include the management of copyright but also neighbouring rights. SUISA is also going to consider what kind of steps are sensible for a rather comprehensive service to its members in the digital music distribution sector.

Züri West has earned money with “I schänke dir mis Härz”, whereas “079” by Lo & Leduc has yielded much less, even though it is at least as successful.
That may well be the case. This difference does not just apply to Lo & Leduc but for all, worldwide, because music consumption is different to what it was 15 years ago. That is why concerts have become more important and that is why the entire broadcasting sector is so important because we still have relatively stable conditions there …

But?
The problem is that more and more advertising is moving towards the internet. Licensing fees for broadcasting rights depend on the turnover of the broadcaster, and that turnover mainly comes from advertising. The income is falling drastically because advertising is shifting more and more towards the internet.

A similar scenario as we had it in the newspaper sector.
Exactly. This is hard to manage. The next online agreements will need to focus more on that. It is actually very fascinating. And of course we do not always succeed immediately, sometimes it takes tough negotiations and, if necessary, even legal proceedings. We also had this situation in the 70ies and 80ies when the task at hand was to collect remuneration for cable retransmission. New developments and types of services for music keep popping up. We need to keep an eye on them and it is our exciting and rewarding task to negotiate remunerations on behalf of our members.

To the first part of the interview: “Brave new world”

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Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Music is now consumed rather differently to how it was consumed 15 years ago: From the turnover of the Digital Service Providers, about 12 to 15 percent are allocated to authors, which results in royalties at a micro-penny -level per play. (Photo: LikeBerry)

Andreas Wegelin, let’s talk about proportions and size ratios. Streaming service providers such as Spotify, for example, pay composers micro-penny -amounts per play. If you extrapolate this, what is the percentage of the turnover?
Andreas Wegelin: If you only consider authors’...read more

Brave new world

There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Brave new world

“If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway”, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin is convinced. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

Andreas Wegelin, the distribution of online royalties is affected by delays which caused disappointment in some members. Can you empathise with that?
Andreas Wegelin: It is our job to get as much collected on behalf of our members as possible, not just online but for all usage categories. If there is a cause for criticism, we take it seriously and examine it. There is, however, also the aspect that some members have received more than before, and they are not disappointed.

Maybe the question needs rephrasing?
Well, maybe the level of expectation is too high. Today, music is consumed in much smaller units, there are possibly one or two songs from a CD and that is reflected in the turnover, of course.

But members should receive a settlement four times per year. That did not quite work out in 2019. Why?
That’s right. One of the reasons for this is that the payment of one major customer was late. The amounts in the June distribution would thus have been far too small: On the one hand, the settlement would have fallen under the so-called payout threshold, they would therefore have received nothing. On the other hand, the administration costs would have been too high. We subsequently decided to postpone the settlement. Our goal, however, remains to pay out on a quarterly basis.

So, you don’t have a problem with the data volume you received that you need for the calculation of the online royalties?
No, we don’t. Yes, the data volume we receive is rather huge and requires complex processing with respect to many countries and currencies, but our systems have proved to be extremely efficient in this regard.

I can now upload my work on platforms such as iMusician, from where it is distributed to various service providers (Spotify etc.) and I can see how much my work is used, and where. Can SUISA also do that?
These are two different business models. iMusician monitors where an individual recording is played. That is, of course, much easier to track than having to simultaneously trace dozens, if not hundreds of recordings of one single work. What’s more, music providers know exactly who the artists of a recording are, but don’t have information on the composers of the song.

So SUISA’s job is more complex?
Of course. Add to that the obligation to provide clear information on the rights whenever you upload a song to such a distribution service. At our end, however, we also get notifications of works which have been uploaded by a fan without any details at all. If I do compare our administration costs with the fees that a service such as iMusician charges, I think to myself: we can keep up very well. But – such distribution services show us how we could improve our service in future and what is in demand on the market.

Which is?
The key word is tracking. I give you an example: If commercials with music of Swiss authors are broadcast abroad, the best way for me to get information on the number of broadcasts is via a tracking system. Today, not least on the grounds of cost, we have a system where the broadcasters deliver the information to us. Which could be something like “Nivea spot”. Well, which one? If I already have the melody as a sound file, I can track that. That is our future, even if it is not the most pressing measure we need to take for the online sector.

Automation is therefore only as good as the data that are available to it?
Exactly. And they are often incomplete.

What about monitoring service providers such as Utopia Music which can track songs across the internet?
Monitoring is a huge topic. We follow this very closely and are also planning a pilot project. Yet again, this is a matter of the relevant cost-benefit ratio. That ratio may well be good for an international hit producer but when it comes to an overall repertoire such as ours, the expense can push the administration costs up to silly levels.

The ‘rucksack of completeness’ has been around for the offline sector for many years and the distribution works rather well in that area. In the online sector, however, where everything could be measured, things are complicated.
That is annoying, yes. The offline system has been functioning well for nearly 100 years. But we only cover Switzerland and Liechtenstein for that. Online, we need to take a global approach and are also facing competition, because, according to the EU, each rights holder can choose who they are represented by.

What are the consequences?
In the past, rights holders assigned their rights to SUISA via so-called reciprocal representation agreements for the perception of their work in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. Based on that system it was possible to pass on the relevant share from Switzerland to any composer, whether English or American, and one subsequently received the relevant shares from abroad for Swiss authors.

Online, on the other hand….
…. it is only possible for a society to collect for the rights holder whom it represents directly, even though this can be done at a global level. All of a sudden, the documentation must be more accurate and also completed for other countries since it otherwise won’t match. One collective management organisation might declare that their share of a work amounts to 80 percent, another organisation claims to hold 40 percent, which adds up to 120. Such cases happen all the time.

And what’s the consequence of this?
The provider says: As long as you do not know who sends an invoice for what, I won’t pay you. Or we do not get any money, but the info: I have already paid someone else!

How do disputes among rights representatives arise?
Let’s take an example: I have a work with a composer, a lyricist and a publisher. The latter, however, has an agreement with a sub-publisher and has, for another territory, instructed a third publisher, and now all of these entitled parties can choose their own collective management organisation for the online exploitation. This means that there might be four or five collective management organisations which are then in charge for their respective part of the work. Now, I have to agree exactly which part belongs to me. This is where the “disputes” start, because the entry may be different at their end.

Is there no regulation among the copyright management organisations how you can proceed in such situations?
The societies are trying to coordinate their collaboration better in technical working groups. Due to the new competition situation among the organisations, a complete solution for these difficulties has not been found yet.

Music is consumed in small units, the rights representation happens at an even smaller scale, international competition and no smooth processes – doesn’t that frustrate you?
No, that is what makes this job so interesting! Changes such as the internet come to you from outside. You can either put your head in the sand or try to make the most of it. If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway.

But you do understand that authors are stressed out by such a situation?
Of course, it stresses us, too (laughs). We are building a new service here, which will hopefully be profitable and in demand and which gets the most out of it for our members. This can only happen in small steps and with setbacks, but there is also progress: We were able to improve the agreements, modernise infrastructure and the duration between the usage date and the distribution date could be halved since 2012. I am very optimistic.

To the second part of the interview: “Penny-pinching in digital music distribution”

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There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Brave new world

“If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway”, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin is convinced. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

Andreas Wegelin, the distribution of online royalties is affected by delays which caused disappointment in some members. Can you empathise with that?
Andreas Wegelin: It is our job to get as much collected on behalf...read more

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

The economic producer (a label, for example) finances the production of sound recordings containing performances by p artists with the intent to subsequently promote and exploit the recordings commercially. The artist’s agreement regulates the resulting rights between the performer and the producer. The artist’s agreement is often confused with the publishing agreement. An overview of the differences between the two contracts. Text by Céline Troillet

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

The artist’s agreement regulates the performer’s rights to their performance; the publishing agreement on the other hand regulates the exclusive rights of the composer and the lyricist in their work. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

An artist’s agreement between a performer and an economic producer (a label, for example) can be defined as the transfer by the performer of their performance rights to the producer for the purpose of producing and marketing a sound recording.

Transfer of the artist’s rights

The neighbouring rights transferred by the performer (performance rights) to the producer are the performer’s exclusive rights in their performance. These include the exclusive right:

  • to fix their performance on blank media and to reproduce such fixations (mechanical rights);
  • to offer, transfer or otherwise distribute copies of their performance; (right to market or distribution right);
  • to make their performance perceptible in some place other than that in which it was performed, either directly or through any kind of medium, in such a way that persons may access it from a place and at a time individually chosen by them (the right of recitation, presentation and performance, and the right to make available);
  • to broadcast their performance by radio, television or similar method, including by wire, as well as to retransmit the broadcast performance by means of technical equipment, the provider of which is not the original broadcasting organization, and to make their performance perceptible when they are broadcast, retransmitted or made available to the public (broadcasting right).

Obligations of the producer

The producer’s function is to produce, at their own expense, a recording containing the artist’s performance, and to promote and exploit the recording. The producer is responsible for promoting the recording in accordance with industry practice.

Royalties

In consideration of the transfer of the performer’s rights, the producer is required to pay a fee for each recording sold. The fee is calculated on the wholesale price of every sound recording sold, at varying rates depending on the type of sale. For recordings sold in retail outlets (physical distribution), the rate is generally 8%, but it may go up to 12%. For online sales (internet and other), rates are usually between 15% and 30%. For other uses (e.g. for advertising or use in a film), the fee due to the performer is generally 50% of the amount received by the producer of the sound recording.

Comparison with the publishing agreement

A publishing agreement between an author and a publisher can be defined as the transfer by the author (composer, lyricist, arranger) to the publisher of the rights in the author’s work with a view to its publishing.

Transfer of the author’s rights

The author’s rights transferred to the publisher are the author’s exclusive rights in their work (i.e. in the composition and lyrics). These rights include:

  • the right to produce copies of the work, particularly in printed form, or as sound recordings, audiovisual recordings or on other media carriers (mechanical rights);
  • the right to offer to the public, to sell or otherwise distribute copies of the work (right to market or distribution right);
  • the right to recite, present or perform the work, or enable it to be viewed or heard in a place other than that where the work was presented, and to make it available (the right of recitation, presentation and performance, and the right to make available);
  • the right to broadcast the work via radio or television (broadcasting right).

Other rights may also be transferred by the author, i.e. remuneration claims managed by collecting societies (uses for teaching purposes, for example), graphic rights (the right to publish sheet music and/or lyrics and to distribute such copies of the work), arrangement rights (remixes, arrangement of a work), synchronisation rights (the right to combine the work with works of other genres, in particular with films or video games), or the advertising right (the right to use the work for advertising purposes).

For your information
Publishing agreement: “Publishing agreements: What do I need to consider?” (SUISAblog)
For more about music and films: SUISAinfo 2.09 (PDF, in German)
For more about arrangements: “Arranging works protected by copyright”, “Setting to music” as well as “Sampling and Remixes” (SUISAblog)

Obligations of the publisher

The function of the publisher is to publish, reproduce, and distribute the author’s work, to mediatise it, combine it with other works (in an arrangement, film or commercial), present it to the public (interviews, galas, show-casings), and to conclude contracts with sub-publishers for the publication of the work in other countries.

Royalties

The remuneration for the exclusive rights and for the compensation claims managed by collecting societies are split between the author and the publisher following the distribution key of the competent collecting society, or by mutual agreement. According to SUISA’s Distribution Rules, the publisher’s share of performance and broadcasting rights may not exceed 33.33%. There is no cap on the publisher’s share of the mechanical rights. The remuneration from the management of the other rights is shared between the parties as provided in the publishing contract. As a rule, the remuneration is split on an equal 50: 50 basis. For sheet music, the author is entitled to between 10% and 15% of the retail price.

In a nutshell

The artist’s agreement is different to the publisher’s agreement. The artist’s agreement applies to a performer while the publishing agreement concerns the author (composer, lyricist, arranger). In the artist’s agreement, the performer transfers their neighbouring rights (performance rights) in their performance whereas in the publishing agreement, the author transfers the copyrights in their work. Lastly, the producer and the publisher do not have the same function in respect of their respective co-contractor, and the remuneration deriving from the artist’s agreement and the publishing agreement is specific to each. For example, if a film producer wishes to use a piece of music in their new film, they must obtain the recording rights from the label (which obtained them from the performer under the artist’s agreements) and the copyrights in the work (composition and lyrics) from the publisher (who obtained them from the author under the publishing agreement).

For your information
Specimens of publishing and sub-publishing agreements are available on SUISA’s website. The main points of these agreements are presented in a commented version. www.suisa.ch/en/members/publishers/publishing-agreement.html
SUISA manages authors’ rights for authors and publishers. Swissperform manages the neighbouring rights of performers and producers in their recordings.
“Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM” (SUISAblog)
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The economic producer (a label, for example) finances the production of sound recordings containing performances by p artists with the intent to subsequently promote and exploit the recordings commercially. The artist’s agreement regulates the resulting rights between the performer and the producer. The artist’s agreement is often confused with the publishing agreement. An overview of the differences between the two contracts. Text by Céline Troillet

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

The artist’s agreement regulates the performer’s rights to their performance; the publishing agreement on the other hand regulates the exclusive rights of the composer and the lyricist in their work. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

An artist’s agreement between a performer and an economic producer (a label, for example) can be defined as the transfer by the performer of their performance rights to the producer for the purpose of producing...read more

“Répondez-Moi”: Third Swiss ESC song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp

With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language entry to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 2010. The song was written by Gjon Muharremaj (Gjon’s Tears) and SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Duo Aliose together with Belgian producer Jeroen Swinnen at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Manu Leuenberger

On 4 March 2020, Swiss Television SRF announced the Swiss contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). This time, Switzerland is entering the race with “Répondez-moi” sung by the French-speaking Swiss singer-songwriter Gjon’s Tears. Following “Stones” by ZiBBZ (2018) and “She Got Me” by Luca Hänni (2019), this is the third time in a row that the Swiss ESC song comes from the songwriting camp organized by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA.

Répondez-Moi” was composed in June 2019 in the Powerplay Studios in Maur / Zurich in a one-day songwriting session by the song’s interpreter, Gjon Muherramaj (Gjon’s Tears), together with SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Geneva-based duo Aliose and Belgian songwriter and producer Jeroen Swinnen. The song won the internal selection procedure of the Swiss television SRF.

“Too many ideas and not enough time”

“I remember the good vibes,” reports Xavier Michel. At the same time the four composers were under time pressure, as Xavier Michel says. “In one day, you have to get to know one another, and have to start working together. Then by the evening, you have to have something finished.” Jeroen Swinnen adds: ” We never had enough time, never! We had too many ideas and not enough time. It’s better than having no ideas.”

“The melody evolved quickly,” says Alizée Oswald in the video interview. “Then we asked ourselves what words would sound good. Because that’s always how it is with French. It’s very challenging to make it sound like English, for example.”

Simple, naive language for universal topics

The search for the right words was very important to the four songwriters in order to convey the universal message of the piece. “The challenge was to get quite a simple feel to the lyrics – almost naive, like the language of a child,” explains Alizée Oswald. From the song you can hear that it is a universal theme to get answers to questions. This simplicity was especially important to Gjon Muherramaj: ” The first time we talked, I said that, for me, the most important value of all is innocence,” he says. ” It’s that experience of rediscovering what it’s like to learn something. When you discover the beauty in something, for example, you see a child who suddenly realises that the Earth is round or that there are several continents.” He adds: ” I think that the song’s message for the listener is: even if you have a lot of questions with no answers, you can keep on asking questions all your life.”

For the first time since 2010, a song in French is going to the ESC for Switzerland

With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language song to the ESC for the first time since 2010 after Michael von der Heides’ song “Il pleu de l’or”. ” I think that for us having a French song at Eurovision, that’s a key point ,” says Xavier Michel in the video interview. “Supporting a beautiful language, our language.“

“A song that grabs me, it’s really about the alchemy between the lyrics, the music and the voice,” says Alizée Oswald. ” With this song, there is a moment, when Gjon sings the chorus, for example, and the first words come together, the first arrangements. And that’s when I realised that this song could be really great.”

Gjon’s Tears became known to a wide audience in Switzerland and France through his participation in the eighth season of “The Voice France”, where he advanced to the semi-finals. In 2018, the singer-songwriter was also a participant in the Gustav Academy, which is run by the Fribourg musician and SUISA member Gustav and promotes young Swiss musicians both musically and linguistically.

The Eurovision Song Contest is probably the most famous music competition in the world. More than 182 million viewers around the world watched the two semi-finals and the Grand Final on television in 2019. Switzerland reached 4th place in the final with Luca Hänni’s song “She Got Me”. This year, the ESC will take place from Tuesday 12 May to Saturday 16 May in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In the second semi-final on 14 May, the Swiss entry will compete for entry into the ESC Grand Final.

SUISA and Pele Loriano Productions will again hold a Songwriting Camp this year. SUISA members will be able to reapply for participation in the camp. Information on the application procedure will soon be published on the SUISAblog.

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Switzerland will be represented at the Eurovision Song Contest by Luca Hänni and a song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp | plus videoSwitzerland will be represented at the Eurovision Song Contest by Luca Hänni and a song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp | plus video For the second time in succession, the Swiss entry for the Eurovision Song Contest has come from the SUISA Songwriting Camp. The song “She Got Me” was written last June at the Powerplay Studios by SUISA member Luca Hänni with Canadian songwriters Laurell Barker and Frazer Mac as well as Swedish producer Jon Hällgren. Read more
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Creative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus videoCreative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus video SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Read more
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With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language entry to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 2010. The song was written by Gjon Muharremaj (Gjon’s Tears) and SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Duo Aliose together with Belgian producer Jeroen Swinnen at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Manu Leuenberger

On 4 March 2020, Swiss Television SRF announced the Swiss contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). This time, Switzerland is entering the race with “Répondez-moi” sung by the French-speaking Swiss singer-songwriter Gjon’s Tears. Following “Stones” by ZiBBZ (2018) and “She Got Me” by Luca Hänni (2019), this is the third time in a row that the Swiss ESC song comes from the songwriting camp organized by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA.

Répondez-Moi”...read more

Outlooks and insights

In its meetings on 10 and 11 December 2019, the Board focussed on the budget for 2020 and SUISA’s strategy for the next five years. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

Advertising revenues have shifted from the TV towards the online sector. This shift has led to a negative impact on copyright collections. (Photo: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com)

The budget for the year 2020 had already been discussed in advance on 27 November 2019 at the meeting of the Executive Committee for Finance and Controlling. The Committee and the Board had to establish that the investment and staff requirements remain high. This is due to the fact that SUISA has taken on new tasks.

In the case of the new task fields which entail a higher demand for staff, it is particularly the collection of remuneration for background music and the reception of broadcasts in offices outside the domestic and private circle or home life that are affected. Said collections had been linked to the BILLAG collection of the fees for the reception of commercial broadcasts. Since 2019, SUISA has been carrying out this type of collection directly. Another sector where investments into additional staff resources need to be made is the IT sector. This is because self-service options for customers and members on the SUISA web platform “my account” are due for major enhancements. Expanding activities in terms of global licensing of online music distribution via the subsidiary, SUISA Digital Licensing AG and the Joint Venture for services with SESAC also require more staff.

Budget approved, future discussed

On the income side, the shift of the advertising revenue in the TV sector towards the online sector are noticeable. Revenues from broadcasting rights are stagnating while online usage does not increase proportionally. The Board has therefore approved a budget for 2020 which has a slightly worse cost/income ratio. Executive Management has also been asked to plan measures for 2021 to lower the cost/income ratio again.

The strategic alignment of the company has been discussed further on the basis of a re-defined strategy paper from the October meeting. Strategic focal points for the next years are described by keywords such as services, income/cost ratio, competition and innovation. To this end, the Board determined a roadmap for 2020 in its December meeting.

On top of that, the Board listened to updates on the personal changes at executive level of subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing AG and Mint Digital Services, the Joint Venture with SESAC and discussed further development steps in the category of licensing of music in online services that is no longer limited per territory.

Distribution rules and by-elections

The Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the entire Board subsequently decided on two changes to the distribution rules, namely an adaptation of the weighting of music in the case of sales broadcasts in advertising windows of foreign TV channels and the dissolution of distribution category 4A. These decisions are subject to the approval by the IGE (IPI), our supervisory authority. Furthermore, the Board determined the cost deductions for the distributions in 2020. They are to remain the same as in 2019.

After the election of Grégoire Liechti into the SUISA Board by the General Meeting in 2019, a seat in the Distribution and Works Committee has become available and needs to be filled. We are looking for a music publisher. The Board is going to propose Michael Hug, owner of the publishing house Ruh Musik AG, at its General Meeting in 2020.

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In its meetings on 10 and 11 December 2019, the Board focussed on the budget for 2020 and SUISA’s strategy for the next five years. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

Advertising revenues have shifted from the TV towards the online sector. This shift has led to a negative impact on copyright collections. (Photo: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com)

The budget for the year 2020 had already been discussed in advance on 27 November 2019 at the meeting of the Executive Committee for Finance and Controlling. The Committee and the Board had to establish that the investment and staff requirements remain high. This is due to the fact that SUISA has taken on new tasks.

In the case of the new task fields which entail a higher demand for staff, it is particularly...read more

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

For the last 10 years, the association Helvetiarockt has been fighting for a better representation of women* in the music scene. Time for a review. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

Isabella Eder (left) and Muriel Rhyner of the Zug-based band Delilahs rock the stage at the PFF FFS Openair Menzingen 2015. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Those who go to concerts or who look at the information on music productions will not be surprised by finding out that women* are greatly under-represented in the music scene. The association Helvetiarockt estimates that in the pop, rock and jazz sector the share of women* on stage is about 15 percent, whereas in music production it is even as low as 2 percent.

SUISA, which is a supporter of Helvetiarockt and specifically promotes the association’s projects, can provide precise figures: At the end of 2018, the share of women* among authors was 15.7 percent. In a preliminary study regarding the womens’* share in the Basel pop scene, the result was even worse: Only just 10 percent of the persons who actively made music in the years between 2008 and 2017, were female. These figures are even more disillusioning since the share of girls* in music schools, according to an estimate by Helvetiarockt, is still 50 percent.

Support and sensitisation

Helvetiarockt has been promoting a “significant increase of the womens’* share in the Swiss music business” since 2009. The association follows this objective mainly with an increasingly broad and specific offer of workshops such as a “songwriting camp” and events such as panel discussions.

That way, Helvetiarockt wishes to motivate young women* to become active in the music scene on the one hand. On the other hand, the association wants to specifically support and connect professional female* musicians and sensitise the sector regarding this subject. As a consequence, it is important that the many women* who engage themselves in the association should also be active in the music industry themselves.

Create awareness

Chantal Bolzern is a lawyer and has been working for SUISA between 2004 and 2017. Since 2015, she has been involved in Helvetiarockt, provides input talks regarding the topic “music and right”, and has been female* Co-President of the association since 2018. She counts the fact that Helvetiarockt has been able to create awareness for the main objective of the association among the most important achievements. “We hardly need to discuss it any longer these days whether the equal treatment of women in the music sector is important. We have thus a good basis in order to have a bigger effect.”

Protected environment

It is with satisfaction that Manuela Jutzi states that she no longer has to listen to the question whether there is actually a need for Helvetiarockt. She is a female* Co-Director of the association and already took over the management of the “Female* Bandworkshop” in 2014. “Whenever we run it, the importance for young women* becomes clear time and again, i.e. that they can take the first steps of making music in a protected environment.” Many are still rather inhibited at first – irrespective of whether this might be due to socialisation or old role models. “I can, however, see an improvement that has taken place throughout the years, and a major part of this is due to the fact that young women* can increasingly experience role models on stage.”

Role model function

In fact, it is no longer as it was at the end of the previous millennium where only a few self-confident Swiss female* musicians such as Vera Kaa, Betty Legler or Sina created a stir with their songs – and could thus become role models. Today, there are many examples, for example Nicole Bernegger, Heidi Happy, Stefanie Heinzmann, Sophie Hunger, Anna Rossinelli, Valeska Steiner (Boy) etc. Music styles which had been previously uncommon for Swiss female* musicians are now home to Anna Aaron, Big Zis, KT Gorique, Anna Murphy (Eluveitie) and Steff la Cheffe.

Muriel Rhyner can also act as a role model. She has been involved with Helvetiarockt since the beginning, she is a member of the team and is running the “Female* Songwriting Camp” which had been supported by SUISA in 2019. She also felt that there was a clear change. “When, in 2005, at the age of 17, I seriously chose a music career with The Delilahs, back then a pure womens’* band, I felt rather lonely. I could not exchange my views with other female* musicians – something that is also very important from a human point of view, something I can now experience repeatedly at Helvetiarockt events.” At the “Female* Songwriting Camp”, she keeps discovering that the female* participants are initially rather insecure. “But then, they push each other increasingly – and such a momentum is something I hope for the efforts of Helvetiarockt.”

Development and outlook

It is hard to say by how much exactly the womens’* share in the music scene has improved. SUISA’s evaluation at least revealed that the womens’* share among the new members in the last five years was higher than that of all female* authors (End of 2018: 15.7 percent): It stood between 19 and 21 percent, respectively. That’s a good starting point for the future work of Helvetiarockt.

After years of development and explaining, Helvetiarockt was now in a position where it could focus on the implementation of the association’s objectives, Chantal Bolzern adds. “We now have some good and new instruments such as the Diversity Roadmap which we created together with partner institutions. It shows event organisers how they can recognise diversity and equality in clubs and at festivals.” Next to be added are new offers for professional female* musicians as well as the expansion of the previous contact pool.

The main objective of the association

“We create a new database which is not limited to female* musicians”, Manuela Jutzi reveals. “It should also be open to other women* who are active in the music sector. That way, we can increase the visibility of women* in the music sector and facilitate the exchange among them at the same time.” The main objective for Manuela Jutzi is, however, “that, one day, Helvetiarockt will not be needed any longer.” In her opinion, this would be the case if at least every third person in the music scene was female.

Further information: www.helvetiarockt.ch

* In this text, the notion of the “gender asterisk” (a method to provide a gender-neutral version in the written form of the German language) has been applied, just as it is used by Helvetiarockt.

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  1. Gut möglich, dass Musikerinnen als Urheberinnen noch stark untervertreten sind: Komponieren und Song-Texte schreiben, ist offensichtlich nicht jederfrau’s Interesse und Talent. Hingegen sind gerade Sängerinnen als Interpretinnen (oftmals in Kombination mit Gitarren oder Piano/Keyboards) im Grunde wesentlich zahlreicher, als ihre männlichen Pendants! Wenn sie zudem – wie meistens – auch noch attraktiver aussehen, als singende Männer, verdienen sie auch noch entsprechend besser, als letztere…

    • Elia Meier says:

      Guten Tag Jean-Pierre E. Reinle

      Es ist schön, dass Sie den Fakt anerkennen, dass es weniger Musikerinnen und Urheberinnen gibt. Wir denken aber nicht, dass ein Geschlecht etwas darüber aussagt, welche Themen sie oder ihn interessieren oder worin ein Mensch talentiert ist oder nicht. Natürlich kann es sein, dass aufgrund von gesellschaftlichen Normen Menschen gehemmt sein können, ein für sie unbekanntes/untypisches Terrain zu betreten. Dieses Verhalten hat jedoch nichts damit zu tun, dass diese Menschen nicht wollen. Es hat damit zu tun, dass Netzwerke ausschliessend wirken können. Es braucht uns alle um diese Normierungen und Stereotypen aufzubrechen und Menschen zu ermutigen zu machen was sie lieben. So haben wir in einer gleichgestellten Welt hoffentlich auch bald mehr Männer am Gesang und mehr Frauen am Schlagzeug. Ihrem Punkt bezüglich konventioneller Attraktivität, pflichten wir insofern bei, dass es durchaus so ist, dass leider Äusserlichkeiten zu Erfolg beitragen können. Wir sehen diesen Aspekt aber für alle Geschlechter. Nur wird es bei Männern nie herausgehoben. Frauen werden, so wie hier an Ihrem Beispiel, immer wieder systematisch auf ihr äusseres reduziert. Dabei wird ihnen jegliche Expertise abgesprochen. Wir wünschen uns genauso wie Sie, dass es ausschliesslich um Expertise geht. Und, dass diese Expertise unabhängig von äusserlichen Merkmalen und unabhängig von Geschlecht, allen Menschen zugetraut wird. Dafür müssen wir uns alle tagtäglich an der Nase nehmen, gelernte Strukturen zu durchbrechen. Es würde uns freuen Sie dabei an unserer Seite zu wissen.

      Freundliche Grüsse Elia Meier, Helvetiarockt

Leave a Reply

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.

For the last 10 years, the association Helvetiarockt has been fighting for a better representation of women* in the music scene. Time for a review. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

Isabella Eder (left) and Muriel Rhyner of the Zug-based band Delilahs rock the stage at the PFF FFS Openair Menzingen 2015. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Those who go to concerts or who look at the information on music productions will not be surprised by finding out that women* are greatly under-represented in the music scene. The association Helvetiarockt estimates that in the pop, rock and jazz sector the share of women* on stage is about 15 percent, whereas in music production it is even as low as 2 percent.

SUISA, which is a supporter of Helvetiarockt and specifically promotes the association’s projects, can provide precise...read more

Setting to music

Whether they write choir music or a pop-song, composers are often inspired by an existing text which they want to use or excerpt in their new composition or song. What should you be mindful of in the use of third-party texts? How do you obtain permission to set a text to music, and what points should the permission cover? Text by Claudia Kempf and Michael Wohlgemuth

Setting to music

Composers who wish to set another author’s text to their music must first clarify the relevant copyright issues. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

As previously underscored in the article “Arranging works protected by copyright”, authors – whether they compose music or write texts – have the right to decide if their work can be arranged; in other words, whether a “derived work” or an “arrangement” can be created from their original work. Texts which are not protected by copyright can be freely used as a basis for a musical work and can also be arranged at will. However, the use or arrangement of texts protected by copyright – i.e. whose authors are still alive or have been dead for less than 70 years – is subject to the rightholders’ consent. The end of the term of protection runs from 31 December of the year the last author alive dies.

Setting poems or parts of texts to music

To set a poem to music, you must first contact the author, their heirs or their publisher and obtain their direct consent to do so. As a rule, the arrangement rights in the case of literary works are held by the publisher; if not, the publisher can at least act as an intermediary. ProLitteris, the Swiss Copyright Society for Literature and the Visual Arts, cannot license these rights.

In the case of elements from a third-party text, the situation is a little trickier. In principle, copyright law does not only protect complete works, it also protects individual parts of a work, provided the term of protection has not expired and the individual parts satisfy the qualifying criteria of a work or impact the individuality of the complete work. Elements of a text (known as “external value”) as well as the plot or characters of a novel (known as “inner value”) can therefore be protected and may not be used at will if in themselves they constitute a work with an individual character or if they impact the individuality of the work as a whole. Copyright law does not only protect entire passages from “The Lord of the Rings”, for example, it also protects Gandalf, the pipe-smoking wizard.

Unfortunately, there is no clear boundary delimiting what parts of a work have individual character or impact an entire work, and what parts do not. The following questions may help you decide: is the excerpt or the inner value in itself so unique that it hardly occurs elsewhere? The length of the excerpt and characteristic elements like names or special word creations can be decisive here. Further: does the excerpt occupy a formative place in the new work?

New settings to music or recording new lyrics

The same applies if you take the lyrics of an existing song and set them to a new melody. This is a new setting to music. In this case, however, you cannot obtain the rights just from the lyricist; you must obtain the rights to the whole musical work from all the original rightholders (i.e. the lyricists and the composers) or from the music publisher. In other words, in the case of jointly created works, consent must be obtained from all the rightholders and not just from the lyricist since you are changing a work that was created to be exploited jointly. Settings to music, on the other hand, are not as a rule regarded as jointly created works. Therefore, each rightholder is free to dispose of their own contribution.

When new lyrics are added to the melody of a song, the legal situation is the same – it is still an arrangement of a musical work. This also applies to the translation of lyrics into another language; even if the contents are identical, a translation is an arrangement requiring consent because it impacts the individuality of the original work.

NB: If you use a translation of a work whose term of protection has expired, you must establish whether the translation is still protected (translations are derived works and as such are also protected by copyright).

Obtaining permission for setting to music or for an arrangement can be an extremely tedious procedure which is not always crowned with success. In any event, you must be sure to allow enough time to clarify the legal status.

Warning: no silent consent!
If a number of requests have been submitted to the rightholder or the (music) publisher and no response has been received, it is wrong to presume that “silence means consent” and that the work can be arranged simply because “efforts were made” to obtain permission. As a rule, arranging a work without the rightholder’s consent constitutes a copyright infringement and may result in civil and criminal prosecution.

Once you have obtained permission to set to music or undertake an arrangement, you still cannot dispose of the work at will. The permission to set to music, for example, often contains a proviso that the original text must be used faithfully, i.e. that no changes can be made to the original. The permission to arrange may be restricted to a single type of arrangement (e.g. only the translation of the lyrics into another language, or only the use of specific excerpts). Moreover, even after granting permission, authors are entitled by law to defend their work against “distortion”. Such cases (which are hard to judge) constitute an infringement of the author’s “moral rights”.

A special case: the “sub-lyricist”
In sub-publishing agreements, the original publisher sometimes grants the sub-publisher the right to have new language versions of an existing song made. The sub-publisher is thus empowered to commission or authorise translations of the lyrics or new lyrics in another language. In such cases, the lyricist is registered as “sub-lyricist”. SUISA’s Distribution Rules provide that the sub-lyricists’ share may not be higher than provided in the regulatory distribution key.

Freedom to quote

Is it possible in certain circumstances to “quote” texts without any permission to set to music when creating a musical work? In Switzerland, literary works may be quoted without permission if the quotation serves as an explanation, reference or illustration and provided the source, i.e. the original author, is indicated (see Article 25 FCA). However, case law stipulates that the quotation may not be “purely an end to itself”, in other words the quotation must serve explanatory or information purposes and cannot principally serve to obtain an advantage from the recognition value of the quotation. Whether these conditions can be met in the case of setting to music and publishing is a matter of interpretation, as is often the case, and can only be answered affirmatively with great restraint. In doubt, it is always better to ask the rightholder.

Key points of a permission to set to music

If an author or a publisher grants permission to set a text to music, this permission or consent to set to music should be set forth in a short agreement. The agreement should cover the following points:

  • Name and address of the contracting parties (and aliases, if applicable)
  • Permission to set to music: the work to be set to music must be named. The agreement must also specify to what extent the text may be edited or arranged. It must define the scope of usage, indicate if printing rights are included and, in case the setting to music is published, whether the author of the text must be designated, and how. The agreement must also indicate whether and how the new work is to be registered with SUISA. Setting-to-music agreements are generally non-exclusive. The composers do not derive any rights to the text from such agreements. These rights remain entirely with the author of the text.
  • Share of the author of the text: SUISA’s Distribution Rules grant equal shares to the composer of the music and the lyricist or author of the text. In the case of unpublished works, the share is 50% each; for published works, the share is 33.33%. As a rule, however, the shares may be set at the parties’ discretion. Book publishers do not often participate in the exploitation rights of the sound recording unless they are members of a copyright collecting society for music and the permission for setting to music provides for such participation.
    The original rightholders often demand a flat-rate fee for the setting to music, and in certain cases the publisher also demands a percentage share on the sale of sheet music if the graphic rights are transferred.
  • Publishing of the setting to music: the text share of the setting to music is not automatically transferred to the music publisher. The publisher must conclude a separate publishing agreement with the author of the text in respect of this share. The publishing rights of major authors are often already held by a book publisher and cannot be transferred to the music publisher.
  • Warranties: the rightholders must warrant that they dispose of the rights to grant the arrangement rights.
  • Place, date and signature of the rightholders
  • Governing law and jurisdiction

How to register a setting to music with SUISA

To register the setting to music of a protected text, you must provide the permission to set to music. If no specific percentage shares were agreed, SUISA’s Distribution Rules will apply. If the author of the text is not member of a music collecting society and does not wish to join one, SUISA will accept transfers to the composers. In this case, the composer and the author of the text will both appear in the database as authors, but both shares will be paid to the composer. The corresponding consent from the author of the text is mandatory.

Summary

As a rule, to set a poem to music you always need permission from the rightholder(s) – depending on the circumstances, this permission can be obtained from the authors, their heirs or the relevant publisher. The permission for setting to music is a prerequisite for registering a protected text with SUISA and is the legal basis for participation in the revenues from the work.

As a rule, for a setting to music, you need to contact the book publisher. For texts which have not been published, ProLitteris can help you identify the relevant rightholders. SUISA can only help if the author is one of its members. In such cases, SUISA will pass on requests for setting to music to the authors or their heirs. Requests should be sent to: authors (at) suisa (dot) ch

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  1. E.Rick Sommer says:

    Guten Tag Frau Leuenberger
    ich habe vor einiger Zeit eine CD aufgenommen mit dem Name (Drei rote Rosen Nr. 577) worauf sich die Songs Immer nur du und Mondscheinnacht befinden. Jetzt habe ich festgestellt dass andere Musiker diese Stücke auf einer CD veröffentlicht haben. Wäre da nicht eine Gutschrift fällig.
    Danke für eine Antwort.
    mfg E. Rick Sommer

    • Manu Leuenberger says:

      Sehr geehrter Herr Sommer
      Vielen Dank für Ihren Kommentar. Zur Beantwortung Ihrer konkreten Anfrage besteht weiterer Abklärungsbedarf. Bei spezifischen Einzelfällen wie diesem empfehlen wir deshalb, direkt den Rechtsdienst der SUISA zu kontaktieren: legalservices (at) suisa (dot) ch
      Freundliche Grüsse
      Manu Leuenberger / SUISA Kommunikation

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Whether they write choir music or a pop-song, composers are often inspired by an existing text which they want to use or excerpt in their new composition or song. What should you be mindful of in the use of third-party texts? How do you obtain permission to set a text to music, and what points should the permission cover? Text by Claudia Kempf and Michael Wohlgemuth

Setting to music

Composers who wish to set another author’s text to their music must first clarify the relevant copyright issues. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

As previously underscored in the article “Arranging works protected by copyright”, authors – whether they compose music or write texts – have the right to decide if their work can be arranged; in other words, whether a “derived work” or an “arrangement” can be created from...read more

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The last differences between the National Council and the Council of States were eliminated on 16 September 2019 and the bill was adopted in a final vote at the end of the autumn parliamentary session. A long process has thus come to an end, with a satisfactory outcome for music authors and publishers.

A compromise and intense debates

A short look back: in 2012, Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga created the working group AGUR12 which was instructed to prepare proposals for the revision of the Federal Copyright Act. Representing all stakeholders (authors, users of works, consumers, etc.), AGUR12 made a series of proposals, embodied in a compromise solution at the end of 2013. Unfortunately, the bill submitted by the Federal Council in 2015 deviated from this compromise solution.

In the face of the heavy criticism expressed during the consultation procedure, the Federal Council reversed its position and submitted a new bill to Parliament at the end of 2017, this time based entirely on the AGUR12 compromise. After intense debate, both Houses finally decided to espouse the compromise, even if that meant deferring consideration of a number of new issues (such as the protection of press publishers and journalists).

SUISA actively involved in the revision

SUISA accompanied the legislative process throughout the entire seven years. Firstly, by participating actively in the work of AGUR12 as part of the Suisseculture delegation. And then, by informing Members of Parliament during committee hearings, and through letters, position papers and argumentation.

With what outcome? Overall, copyright protection has been increased and modernised thanks to new anti-piracy measures and improvements in rights management in particular. No doubt one could have gone further on certain points. But a compromise is a compromise …

Finish one revision, start the next

It would be wrong to lower our guard. The “Pirate Party” has now launched a referendum against the revised Copyright Act. Moreover, the last question debated in Parliament was whether hotels which offer their guests the means to watch television, play films and listen to music in their rooms should be exempted from their obligations towards authors. The National Council eventually shelved this idea, but the debate shows that creators’ vested rights are regularly subject to attack. We must ensure we avoid … a re-revision of the revision of the law to the detriment of authors and publishers! Everything is an eternal recurrence …

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On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The...read more

Two new faces for the Board meeting in autumn

At the General Meeting in June 2019, two new members were elected into the SUISA Board. At the first meeting after the elections in the course of the autumn meetings, the Board has reconstituted itself and dealt with cost unit accounting and business strategy. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Two new faces for the Board meeting in autumn

The newly elected Board members Sylvie Reinhard (left) and Grégoire Liechti. (Photos: Simon Tanner; Sibylle Roth)

In early October, the first meetings of the newly elected Board took place. In June 2019, the General Meeting elected Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti to replace the Board members Bertrand Liechti and Marco Zanotta who had stepped down due to the limitation of the term in office. The Board reconstituted itself during its first meeting after the elections. Marco Neeser was elected to be the new Vice President and the three Board Committees were newly appointed.

Cost unit accounting and business strategy

During its autumn meeting, the Board also dealt with the cost unit accounting for 2018 and the business strategy, just like every year. The cost unit accounting shows in detail how high the expenses for each individual usage sector or tariff in the past financial year were. It serves the purpose of identifying particularly cost intensive areas and to introduce the respective measures to improve the situation. In this context, the Executive Committee presented the processes for the licensing of concerts (Tariff K) and sound recordings (Tariff PI) in more detail.

Regarding the business strategy, the Board deliberated on the increasing competition of the collective management organisations and the huge repertoires, represented by the big publishing companies, but also the growing tendency of known authors to collect their authors´ rights directly for their performances – without the “detour” via the collective management organisations. It is expected that competition will grow.

SUISA can, compared to the collective management organisations in Germany or France, not count on its own repertoire when it comes to international fame. As a consequence, SUISA has to offer the most important services at high quality levels and at an attractive price in order to persist in the market.

Other meeting topics

Other items discussed during the meetings were the current tariff negotiations and the distribution results. SUISA´s sponsoring activities in 2020 were also a subject of the meeting in order to consider the respective amounts in time into the budget for 2020.

The Board has, finally, had some thoughts on the 100th Birthday of SUISA which will be celebrated in 2023. A little less far away, it also determined the meeting diary for 2020.

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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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At the General Meeting in June 2019, two new members were elected into the SUISA Board. At the first meeting after the elections in the course of the autumn meetings, the Board has reconstituted itself and dealt with cost unit accounting and business strategy. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Two new faces for the Board meeting in autumn

The newly elected Board members Sylvie Reinhard (left) and Grégoire Liechti. (Photos: Simon Tanner; Sibylle Roth)

In early October, the first meetings of the newly elected Board took place. In June 2019, the General Meeting elected Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti to replace the Board members Bertrand Liechti and Marco Zanotta who had stepped down due to the limitation of the term in office. The Board reconstituted itself during its first meeting after the elections. Marco Neeser was elected to be the...read more