Author Archives: Manu Leuenberger

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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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

Jessiquoi: having the freedom to reinvent yourself

Searching for her personal identity is the force that drives her creativity. It has enabled Jessica Plattner, alias Jessiquoi, to create a complete audiovisual work of art. The 31-year-old Bern resident says that she is brim full of ideas. Thanks to the Get Going! grant, there is no longer anything standing in the way of her goals. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Jessiquoi: having the freedom to reinvent yourself

Jessiquoi (Photo: Manuel Lopez)

“Once I am a grown-up, I would like to have a grand piano on stage,” says Jessica Plattner, laughing at her own turn of phrase. Needless to say, at 31 years of age, she has already been a grown-up for some time, but her statement also indicates that she sees herself as an artist on a path to further development that has not yet reached its end. And this is in spite of being one of Switzerland’s most impressive acts with her alter ego Jessiquoi. She composes and produces herself. She is responsible for the visuals, continually creating fantastic worlds, in which Jessiquoi reinvents, redefines herself with the aid of electro-sound environments that are sometimes aggressive, sometimes gentle.

“For me, identity is something that is fluid,” comments Jessica, quoting well-known drag queen, RuPaul: “You’re born naked. The rest is drag.” Then adding: “I believe that every person has the freedom to reinvent themself. Also, no justification is necessary if someone steers their life in a completely new direction. It is like in a video game, where each and every player can specify their own avatar.”

The quest for an identity is the creative driving force: in Jessica’s case, this has its roots in her extraordinary life-history. She was born in Bern. Shortly afterwards, her family emigrated to Australia. When she was a teenager, her father was offered a job at the Bern Conservatory, so the family moved back to Switzerland. This steered her still young career down other paths. Jessica had wanted to be a professional dancer and trained accordingly in Sydney. In addition, the Plattners spoke exclusively English at home. “If I had wanted to pursue my career as a dancer, I would have had to go to Rotterdam or Berlin. But I wanted to be with my family,” she says. “At the beginning, I felt like I was a foreigner in Bern and like I was being excluded. It was only when I started to speak the Bernese dialect that everything was suddenly OK.” The language came to her easily, her German teacher even giving her the nickname “tape recorder”, “because I could play back everything so perfectly,” she laughs.

Alternative existence

The search for her identity in this strange homeland then led her to music – with dance falling by the wayside. “We always had a piano at home, but I never touched it in the beginning. I’d had lessons for a short time, but I hated them. Then I suddenly started writing songs of my own every day,” is the way she describes her musical beginnings.

But if the loss of her familiar environment was not bad enough, seven years ago Jessica suffered the most painful stroke of fate that anyone could possibly imagine. Her brother, who was two years younger than her, died. “We shared everything and were often even mistaken for twins,” she says before explaining how her brother inspired her interest in the world of video games and film soundtracks.

And it was precisely in these worlds where you can reinvent yourself that Jessica found her new home as Jessiquoi. “You could say that Jessiquoi is a fictional character, but in truth she is actually a different version of me,” she says and adds: “This character can also scare you, because Jessiquoi does not inhabit our fixed system of clear gender roles and national identities.”

On her albums, she now tells us about these strange worlds, in which the valleys are contaminated, so people flee to the mountain tops, and where pilots are able to fly in the direction of a better existence. On stage, she brings about this alternative existence all by herself. She has electronic instruments and a command centre for the visual effects on a wooden cart and dances, playing the part of Jessiquoi as absolute ruler of the stage, which is a place of self-determination and constant repositioning. Jessiquoi creates a complete artwork that is impressive thanks to its uncompromisingness, and with which she has also already drummed up enthusiasm in Seville and New York.

The wooden cart – or “trolley” as she calls it – is like a Chinese harp, which she plays live, and is reminiscent of Chinese culture, for which she possesses great affinity. “In the language school, one of my Chinese friends got me interested in her culture. And once when I was in China – it was three o’clock in the morning in Shanghai – I wanted something to eat and there was this old lady with a wooden cart on which she was cooking food. This old cart in the middle of this great metropolis: that’s an image I will never forget. I wanted to be this woman,” she explains, chuckling.

Craft new songs

Self-determination with no ifs or buts, as well as the freedom to keep her own identity in a fluid state are things that Jessica sees as being essential for her art. “For me, the main job of an artist is to dream about the future of our civilisation anew or to make it visible, because this is what absorbs, analyses, criticises and reformulates the world and the people around them.”

Thanks to the Get Going! grant, nothing stands in the way of this exciting development. “I have had to finance myself by playing concerts, which meant I had less time to craft new songs. I now have my annual budget available at a stroke,” she beams. Where this journey ultimately leads her is totally open: “I don’t know what music I will be making tomorrow. It comes easily to me. But I will never let reasons of market strategy stipulate what my music must sound like. I am working on my identity. Me. Just me, nobody but me.”

www.jessiquoi.com

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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Searching for her personal identity is the force that drives her creativity. It has enabled Jessica Plattner, alias Jessiquoi, to create a complete audiovisual work of art. The 31-year-old Bern resident says that she is brim full of ideas. Thanks to the Get Going! grant, there is no longer anything standing in the way of her goals. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Jessiquoi: having the freedom to reinvent yourself

Jessiquoi (Photo: Manuel Lopez)

“Once I am a grown-up, I would like to have a grand piano on stage,” says Jessica Plattner, laughing at her own turn of phrase. Needless to say, at 31 years of age, she has already been a grown-up for some time, but her statement also indicates that she sees herself as an artist on a path to further development that has not yet reached its...read more

Michel Barengo: sound collector and tinkerer outside the comfort zone

Soak up as much as possible and then process it. That is Michel Barengo’s creed. The 37-year-old Zurich resident will have nothing to do with any comfort zones and now, thanks to the Get Going! grant, can pursue his creative urges on the Japanese underground scene. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Michel Barengo: sound collector and tinkerer outside the comfort zone

Michel Barengo (Photo: Michel Barengo)

Cowbells, the bleating of goats, squeaky doors, cackling hens, the gentle rustling of the wind in the trees, police sirens or lapping water: there is nothing in the world of sound that would not be of interest to Michel Barengo. He is a tireless collector of sounds who has created a substantial audio library of all kinds of sounds in his home studio. “Just sit for ten minutes in a bus station with your eyes closed. It’s incredible what is going on there,” he beams and the passion of this sound architect is unmistakeable from the way his eyes light up.

Now, the 37-year-old Zurich resident is not only a tinkerer with a tendency to make his own music, but is also one of the most in-demand protagonists when it comes to soundtracks for video games or sound backdrops for the theatre. In 2016, he won the FONDATION SUISA prize for the best video game music. But such commissions are just one part of the work of this jack-of-all-trades, who promotes his distinct musical identity with clear ideas.

The skills he has developed enabling him to implement his creative ideas professionally are very impressive. At the age of five, he started playing the violin and drums and afterwards he played in various garage bands with his brothers. They played punk, metal and alternative rock. Influenced by Mr. Bungle and Fantômas, the projects of Californian singer Mike Patton, Barengo followed his path and inevitably discovered the music of New York experimental saxophonist, John Zorn. “Grand Guignol”, the album by Zorn’s band Naked City, was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most influential experience in the still young Michel Barengo’s life. In a primitive yet subtle manner, Zorn deconstructs and reconstructs the music at breathtaking speed and creates an explosive sound cloud that has never been heard before from countless tiny fragments.

“Zorn’s affinity with the Japanese underground led me to begin to take more and more of an interest in the grindcore and experimental scenes there. Bands like Ground Zero, Korekyojinn and Ruins with Tatsuya Yoshida on drums, as well as Otomo Yoshihide on turntables and guitar. That was decisive when it came to my own experimental pieces, ” explains Barengo. The influences in both of his band projects, the jazzcore trio Platypus and grind noise band Five Pound Pocket Universe(5PPU) must not be overlooked.

Professional training

The facts that Barengo can move with ease through his sound cosmos and can build bridge after bridge between his own artistic path and his commissions, over which he dances nimbly, are to do with his professional training. He trained as a jazz drummer at the Winterthur Academy for Modern Music (WIAM) and at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) he obtained his Master’s in composition for film, theatre and media.

Whether opulent sounds reminiscent of Hollywood for a video game, roughly honed small pieces with his band 5PPU or finely crafted sound sample collages with Platypus: Barengo’s eclecticism is invariably fed by his urge to create a completely distinctive aesthetic. One that denies predictions and will not allow the listener to get any peace, because behind every individual sound another one might be lurking which surprises, questions or totally remaps the path laid down beforehand at lightning speed.

A restless person

The nature of the work is also motivated by the character of its creator. “I’m a restless person,” comments Barengo about himself. “There is so much that interests me. I also get bored quickly. I simply have to try things. Ultimately, that’s what drives you: soak up as much as possible and then process it. I like extremes and lots of variety,” he says and then adds, laughing: “It’s probably all down to the fact that I heard ‘Grand Guignol’ when I was just 13. That’s what it did to me.”

Barengo only feels good when he goes out of his comfort zone. And his Get Going! project is also based on an area of tension with two extremes. It has to lead him to a place where tremendous creative tension in the discrepancy between tradition and modern has prevailed for centuries. Barengo’s love of the Japanese underground led him to visit this country around a dozen times and now he wants to get a three-part project going there. “I actually have in mind a project in three phases consisting of two periods of residency in Japan followed by one in Switzerland for reviewing the work and processing it further,” he explains. “Firstly, using improvisation sessions with the Tokyo underground scene, I would like to get to grips with Japanese traditional music and its integration into contemporary music. After this I will meet up with 12 Japanese musicians in 12 hotels, with whom I can record a track in one room consisting of noises I recorded in that particular hotel. And last but not least, back in Switzerland I will review all the material I recorded, archive it for future composition projects and process it for my personal sound library.” The thrill of anticipation about this is great and all thanks to being able to bring it to fruition with financial support from the Get Going! award. “My project doesn’t fit into any existing categories. It’s neither an album production nor a tour. And it’s not working in a studio either. As I follow my creative path, Get Going! frees me from all constraints and compromises. Quite simply ingenious!” he beams. And even though his journey now had to be delayed until next year due to the coronavirus: back at home, the sound collector and tinkerer is unlikely to lose his ideas quickly.

www.michelbarengo.com

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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Soak up as much as possible and then process it. That is Michel Barengo’s creed. The 37-year-old Zurich resident will have nothing to do with any comfort zones and now, thanks to the Get Going! grant, can pursue his creative urges on the Japanese underground scene. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Michel Barengo: sound collector and tinkerer outside the comfort zone

Michel Barengo (Photo: Michel Barengo)

Cowbells, the bleating of goats, squeaky doors, cackling hens, the gentle rustling of the wind in the trees, police sirens or lapping water: there is nothing in the world of sound that would not be of interest to Michel Barengo. He is a tireless collector of sounds who has created a substantial audio library of all kinds of sounds in his home studio. “Just sit for ten minutes in a bus station with your eyes closed....read more

Anna Gosteli: “I never know where things will take meˮ

Despite her outstanding training and commercial successes in a number of bands, Anna Gosteli hid her light under a bushel far too often.The 35-year-old resident of Solothurn is now stepping into the limelight and has found her too long-awaited musical identity, thanks to all of her many experiences. The 2019 Get Going! grant gave her the necessary financial independence. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Anna Gosteli: “I never know where things will take meˮ

Anna Gosteli (Photo: Manuel Vescoli)

Parts of a puzzle like mosaic pieces – before they are put together, they shimmer in all the colours under the sun, but: the full picture is just not there. The correct arrangement, the right sequence of events which gives the finished picture its identity, is missing. “Jack of all trades and master of noneˮ is the way Anna Gosteli describes the state of affairs in which she found herself for years. And this is despite how these individual parts of the puzzle can be seen or heard: piano lessons at the age of 7, then the clarinet, followed by the school choir. At home in the Vorarlberg region of Austria, her mother played the guitar and her father the saxophone. “Even as a child I came into contact with all sorts of musical genres, with golden oldies and pop songs, and in our house there were always instruments available to play.ˮ

At the age of 14, she moved to Switzerland. Yet another piece of the puzzle, followed by more new pieces at regular intervals. When she was 21, she joined the Basel-based art-pop collective, The Bianca Story. Nothing seemed to stand in the way of a stellar career. Appearances at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, recording at Abbey Road Studios in London, however: “In the beginning I was the timid one in the band,ˮ the 35-year-old comments today, quickly adding: “This was entirely something I felt myself, and had nothing to do with the guys in the band, who always treated me as an equal.ˮ In spite of Gosteliʼs international success, this extremely talented singer was always the second voice. Combined with her reserved nature, she was left with the feeling that there could be more to her than meets the eye.

Her liberation began when she attended the Jazz School in Basel. Composition with Hans Feigenwinter, singing with Lisette Spinnler and harmony lessons with Lester Menezes. She is able to laugh about it today, but “at that time I was moved to tears when an irritated Lester once again pointed out to me that what I was doing was boring. My singing tended to be ʼtoo sweetʻ.ˮ Ultimately, this love-hate relationship turned out to be an important driving force in her breaking out of fixed roles and listening to her inner voice. Slowly but surely, the parts of the puzzle that had been collected over the years seemed to be fitting together. A feeling of certainty grew that a bigger, more coherent picture was possibly hidden inside her.

Along with Fabian Chiquet of The Bianca Story, she founded Chiqanne. Working together, they created great pop songs with depth. “Suddenly, I was writing lyrics in German and standing at the very front of the stage.ˮ But the decisive step in completing the puzzle only appeared as a result of the album, “Dr Schnuu und sini Tierliˮ, with a collection of songs for children, and most importantly, for their parents as well. Like so many things in her varied career, this was not planned. “I never know where things will take me. But somehow that can also be a way of doing things,ˮ she laughs.

It happened at Christmas, when Anna, now the mother of a six-year-old son, was looking for presents for the children of her friends. “And because I was really short of money at that time, I wrote a song and gave each child a verse.ˮ After the song about “Poultryˮ, came “Biber (Beaver)ˮ, which she gave to the film composer, Biber Gullatz, by way of thanks for a stay in his Berlin apartment, when she was frequently cooperating with him on television film soundtracks. “Only then did the idea come to me of writing a collection of childrenʼs songs.ˮ

It was behind these actual songs that almost all of the musical experiences that Gosteli had gathered throughout her career were hiding, and which suggested that the puzzle would become part of a glittering oeuvre. Thanks to lots of humour, but also immense psychological depth, these songs show off Gosteliʼs talents as a lyricist, whilst the music – which she performed on stage in collaboration with guitarist, Martina Stutz, – reflects her stylistic journey from golden oldies to pop songs and ultimately jazz.

“Iʼm currently bursting with ideas,ˮ says Gosteli, who teaches singing at the Guggenheim in Liestal, as well as leading a “Female Band Workshopˮ for “Helvetiarocktˮ along with Evelinn Trouble.And, last but not least, she is starting to bring the puzzle nearly to completion in the newly established Kid Empress band. “At last,ˮ states Gosteli, “Iʼve found three musical kindred spirits. We make decisions together and without having to make any compromises.ˮ

The “Schnuuˮ and genre-crossing sound of Kid Empress already clearly indicate that the initial “Jack of all trades and master of noneˮ is being condensed into an independent identity. “The Get Going! grant gives me the necessary financial breathing space at just the right time to be able to immerse myself in this new, creative adventure.ˮ And at this point, she beams all over her face once more.

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!ˮ, 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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«Get Going!» goes into the third round«Get Going!» goes into the third round «Get Going!» enables new perspectives: The idea of «Get Going!» is based on the philosophy of «making it possible». «Get Going!» consist of a start-up financing. Four such contributions of CHF 25 000.- each per year are advertised. Read more
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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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Despite her outstanding training and commercial successes in a number of bands, Anna Gosteli hid her light under a bushel far too often.The 35-year-old resident of Solothurn is now stepping into the limelight and has found her too long-awaited musical identity, thanks to all of her many experiences. The 2019 Get Going! grant gave her the necessary financial independence. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Anna Gosteli: “I never know where things will take meˮ

Anna Gosteli (Photo: Manuel Vescoli)

Parts of a puzzle like mosaic pieces – before they are put together, they shimmer in all the colours under the sun, but: the full picture is just not there. The correct arrangement, the right sequence of events which gives the finished picture its identity, is missing. “Jack of all trades and master of noneˮ is the way Anna Gosteli describes the state...read more

Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors – end of June 2020

In April 2020, SUISA’s Board of Directors set up a working group to respond as quickly as possible to the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on SUISA and to identify cost-saving measures together with the Executive Committee.

Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors - end of June 2020

In view of the expected negative economic consequences of the lockdown on SUISA, initial cost-saving measures were taken and a corona budget was drawn up. (Photo: Yuttapon Busu / Shutterstock.com)

Several meetings were held for this purpose, and we would like to share with all SUISA members the main points arising from these ongoing discussions.

The Executive Committee estimates that the losses in connection with the Covid-19 crisis currently amount to around 25% of budgeted revenues for 2020. Initial cost-cutting measures have already been taken to reduce costs, provided that negative impacts on SUISA’s regular operations and important development projects (e.g. online access to “My Account” for members, self-service portal for clients) are avoided.

The issue of short-time work was discussed as a possible solution to reduce costs. SUISA’s Executive Committee drew the attention of the task force to the fact that short-time work would currently have a negative impact on the collection of royalty income, especially in the area of smaller performances, and on SUISA’s regular operations. Although almost all concerts between the end of March and the end of May were cancelled, the work of SUISA’s staff has not yet decreased significantly, partly because additional services such as the emergency support fund are now being provided for members.

The Executive Committee drew up a corona budget, which now serves as a reference basis (the budget for 2020, which was adopted in autumn 2019, is no longer realistic due to the crisis). In the corona budget, the reduction in collections is offset by using the funds normally released for our supplementary distributions to cover costs. For this purpose, an upper limit was set for the use of the released totals. It is therefore unlikely that there will be any supplementary distribution next year.

The task force clearly spoke out against an increase of the current maximum deduction of costs of 15% in the distributions to members. The Executive Committee is therefore urged to undertake all reasonable cost savings.

The task force and the Executive Committee are well aware that the economic consequences of the lockdown and especially the ban on events in spring 2020 may linger on for longer and that they are not yet immediately visible: It will therefore examine all realistic savings measures not only in the short but also in the medium term. In this context, it is also important to consider which services could then no longer be provided to members for cost reasons.

All the above items were approved by the Committee for Finance and Controlling and the Board of Directors.

The task force will continue to meet monthly with the Executive Committee to discuss further developments. It will report to the full Board of Directors at every opportunity so that the latter can take decisions quickly if the situation so requires.

The task force:

Xavier Dayer
Marco Neeser
Rainer Bischof
Roman Camenzind

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In April 2020, SUISA’s Board of Directors set up a working group to respond as quickly as possible to the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on SUISA and to identify cost-saving measures together with the Executive Committee.

Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors - end of June 2020

In view of the expected negative economic consequences of the lockdown on SUISA, initial cost-saving measures were taken and a corona budget was drawn up. (Photo: Yuttapon Busu / Shutterstock.com)

Several meetings were held for this purpose, and we would like to share with all SUISA members the main points arising from these ongoing discussions.

The Executive Committee estimates that the losses in connection with the Covid-19 crisis currently amount to around 25% of budgeted revenues for 2020. Initial cost-cutting measures have already been taken to reduce costs, provided that negative impacts on SUISA’s regular...read more

Corona budget up to the end of May has been met

For the second time, the Board of Directors had to hold its regular meetings as video conferences due to corona. Of course, the financial situation due to the pandemic was also the most important topic at these meetings. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Corona budget up to the end of May has been met

The impact of the corona crisis on the financial situation of the Cooperative was the main topic at the meetings of SUISA’s Board of Directors on 25 and 26 June 2020. (Photo: Bartolomiej Pietrzyk / Shutterstock.com)

The Board of Directors took note of the revenue figures up to the end of May 2020, which have fallen by 15.5% compared to the original budget for performing rights. In terms of total sales, the decline is still 7.7%. The Executive Committee therefore presented a corona budget as early as April. The budget could be met until the end of May. Revenues are even slightly higher (+3.1%).

It is important to know, however, that these revenues generated by the end of May originate from the time before the cancellation of all events. The impact on revenues due to the events that have been cancelled since mid-March will only be felt in the second half of the year. Savings were made on the cost side (–3%), but the current bonds and securities situation had a negative impact.

Audit report, Mint, PRS

The Board of Directors also acknowledged the comprehensive report of the auditors, BDO, and discussed various report points with the Executive Committee.

With regard to the joint venture Mint Digital Services with the American society SESAC, the Board of Directors was informed about the planning of licensing activities in the coming months and the roadmap 2020–24. It is planned to extend the direct licensing of our repertoire to India, Australasia and Africa. In this context, the Board of Directors decided to grant guarantees for the licensing of large publishing catalogues.

The renewal of the reciprocal representation agreement with the English sister society PRS was also a topic at the Board meeting. PRS is taking a critical stance regarding the deductions from revenues for social purposes as provided for in our Articles of Association. This could lead to a revision of the Articles of Association after further negotiations with the PRS.

Waiver of attendance fees in favour of emergency fund

In view of the difficult situation for many cultural performers and especially for SUISA members, the Board of Directors decided to waive its attendance fees in favour of SUISA’s recently established emergency fund. Executive Committee members also waive parts of their salaries in a similar amount in favour of a reduction in personnel costs.

Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors – end of June 2020
In April 2020, SUISA’s Board of Directors set up a working group to respond as quickly as possible to the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on SUISA and to identify cost-saving measures together with the Executive Committee. Read more
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For the second time, the Board of Directors had to hold its regular meetings as video conferences due to corona. Of course, the financial situation due to the pandemic was also the most important topic at these meetings. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Corona budget up to the end of May has been met

The impact of the corona crisis on the financial situation of the Cooperative was the main topic at the meetings of SUISA’s Board of Directors on 25 and 26 June 2020. (Photo: Bartolomiej Pietrzyk / Shutterstock.com)

The Board of Directors took note of the revenue figures up to the end of May 2020, which have fallen by 15.5% compared to the original budget for performing rights. In terms of total sales, the decline is still 7.7%. The Executive Committee therefore presented a corona budget as early...read more

SUISA General Meeting: Emergency fund for authors and publishers approved

SUISAʼs General Meeting approved the emergency fund for composers, lyricists and publishers of music in the amount of CHF 1.5 million. In addition, Swiss yodeller, singer, composer and publisher Melanie Oesch was elected to the SUISA Board. For the first time in SUISAʼs history, the General Meeting was held in written form due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; interview with Melanie Oesch by Erika Weibel; video by Nina Müller

SUISAʼs General Meeting should have been held this year on 26 June at the Bierhübeli in Bern. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ban on events imposed in March, the SUISA Board decided in April to hold the General Meeting in written form. For the first time in the Cooperativeʼs history, SUISA members were able to vote and elect by post and, in the case of some members from abroad, by e-mail.

Covid-19: Emergency fund for authors and publishers

In addition to statutory business such as approving the annual accounts or granting the discharge to the SUISA Board and the auditing firm BDO, the emergency fund for authors and publishers was one of the most important items on the agenda of this yearʼs General Meeting. In view of the current precarious situation for music professionals, the SUISA Board decided on 6 April 2020 that SUISA should make additional funds available to cover losses in copyright royalties incurred by SUISA members due to the cancellation of events and closure of businesses ordered by the authorities. The fund of CHF 1.5 million is intended to compensate composers, lyricists and publishers of music who find themselves in distress as a result of the corona crisis for proven loss of SUISA-related income. The General Meetingapproved the relief fund by a large majority.

Michael Hug elected to the Distribution and Works Commission

In addition, two by-elections were held at this yearʼs General Assembly. To replace Grégoire Liechti, who was elected to the SUISA Executive Committee last year, music publisher Michael Hug was elected to the Distribution and Works Commission (VWK) for the current term of office until 2023.

Michael Hug is Managing Director of the Ruh Musik AG publishing house, founded in 1910. The publishing house is nationally and internationally renowned for the publication of wind music; the catalogue also includes numerous works of classical and choral music. Michael Hug and his wife took over the company from his father in 2009. He recognised the signs of the times early on and digitised his entire catalogue. In 2012, the foundation for music promotion of SUISA, the FONDATION SUISA, awarded him a prize for his digital distribution platform for sheet music; at the time, the jury particularly emphasised his innovative spirit and sustainable concept. Michael Hug is 55 years old and – like all his predecessors in the publishing house – is also musically active himself.

Melanie Oesch new on the SUISA Board of Directors

A by-election was also necessary for SUISAʼsBoard of Directors, following the unexpected death of Reto Parolari, conductor, composer and long-standing member of theBoard, in December 2019. The Swiss yodeller, singer, composer and publisher Melanie Oesch (Oeschʼs die Dritten) was newly elected to SUISAʼs Boardfor the current term of office until 2023.

Melanie Oesch is, as part of Oeschʼs die Dritten, one of the most successful representatives of traditional folklore music. Melanie Oesch is 33 years old and has been a member of SUISA since 2006.

In a video interview, she tells us what SUISA means to her: “SUISAʼs work is very important to me. I would never have the time to claim the money I am entitled to everywhere myself and I also lack the knowledge about it.” She particularly appreciates SUISAʼs expertise: “I am glad SUISA has so many professionals who have been working on this issue for years and who are committed to it”, says Melanie Oesch.

Melanie Oesch was very pleased and honoured by the question whether she would like to become a member of the Board. She would like to bring her experience as a folk musician to the Board: “In folk music there are many pieces which are very old. It is often not clear whether the composers are still alive and where [the pieces] are published.” The type of pieces in folk music is also special. “For example, a yodel doesnʼt have a classical text, and yet it has a kind of text,” explains the Bernese-born artist.

As a member of the Board, Melanie Oesch would like to change something about the disagreements between organisers and artists. According to her assessment, certain organisers feel disadvantaged because they are small and have the feeling of having to pay a lot anyway. She would like to improve mediation between SUISA and the organisers.

Altogether 1576 composers, text authors, music publishers and heirs participated in the written voting and electing process. An overview of the results of the SUISA General Meeting 2020 can be found at www.suisa.ch/generalmeeting

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SUISAʼs General Meeting approved the emergency fund for composers, lyricists and publishers of music in the amount of CHF 1.5 million. In addition, Swiss yodeller, singer, composer and publisher Melanie Oesch was elected to the SUISA Board. For the first time in SUISAʼs history, the General Meeting was held in written form due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; interview with Melanie Oesch by Erika Weibel; video by Nina Müller

SUISAʼs General Meeting should have been held this year on 26 June at the Bierhübeli in Bern. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ban on events imposed in March, the SUISA Board decided in April to hold the General Meeting in written form. For the first time in the Cooperativeʼs history, SUISA members were able to vote...read more

«Get Going!» goes into the third round

«Get Going!» enables new perspectives: The idea of «Get Going!» is based on the philosophy of «making it possible». «Get Going!» consist of a start-up financing. Four such contributions of CHF 25 000.- each per year are advertised. Text by FONDATION SUISA

«Get Going!» goes into the third round

The recipients of the “Get Going!” contributions 2019 (from top left to bottom right): Anna Gosteli, Michel Barengo, Jessiquoi, Félix Bergeron (Iynnu) and Jérémie Zwahlen. (Photos: zVg)

«Get Going!» should be accessible to as many musically creative people as possible. Musicians should be restricted as little as possible in their creative ideas.

«Get Going!» 2020: Call for applications

Application deadline: 31.08.2020

The call for applications is intended to be broadly open and deliberately avoids the usual categories of musical genre, age or project.

Applications may be submitted by authors and musicians who can demonstrate a clear connection with the current Swiss or Liechtenstein music making.

Please note that:

  • We will not accept any additional documents, neither in electronic form nor as hard copies
  • We shall neither engage in any correspondence nor give any information by phone about the selection procedure and the final decision
  • If necessary, the jury may request further information
  • The jury, consisting of four members of the Board of Trustees, will evaluate the applications and make the final selection. The substance and originality of the applicant’s submission will play a decisive role in the selection.

To apply:

You have until 31.08.2020 to fill out the online form below:

«Get Going!» 2020 application form

In the course of autumn 2020, the jury will consider the submitted dossiers. You will then receive feedback on your application.

www.fondation-suisa.ch/en/work-grants

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«Get Going!» enables new perspectives: The idea of «Get Going!» is based on the philosophy of «making it possible». «Get Going!» consist of a start-up financing. Four such contributions of CHF 25 000.- each per year are advertised. Text by FONDATION SUISA

«Get Going!» goes into the third round

The recipients of the “Get Going!” contributions 2019 (from top left to bottom right): Anna Gosteli, Michel Barengo, Jessiquoi, Félix Bergeron (Iynnu) and Jérémie Zwahlen. (Photos: zVg)

«Get Going!» should be accessible to as many musically creative people as possible. Musicians should be restricted as little as possible in their creative ideas.

«Get Going!» 2020: Call for applications

Application deadline: 31.08.2020

The call for applications is intended to be broadly open and deliberately avoids the usual categories of musical genre, age or project.

Applications may be submitted by authors and musicians who can demonstrate a clear connection...read more

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka, an entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the Swiss music industry as a classical producer-music publisher, passed away on 19 May 2020. Obituary by guest author Stephan F. Peterer

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka was a long-standing member of SUISA both as an author and as a publisher. (Photo: zVg)

Born in Madrid on 6 November 1949, he discovered a great enthusiasm for the various arts at an early age and studied art, literature and music with determination. He built up his extensive knowledge and network in the music industry by working in important locations of the western music scene and thus was able to gain extensive experience. In particular, he used part of his “journeyman years” in the 1970s, which were particularly important for the music scene, as a studio musician, producer, author and editor in London, which had a special influence on him.

Producer, publisher and entrepreneur

After his years of travelling, he settled in Switzerland in 1976, together with his beloved wife Olivia, from where the committed couple built up and ran their company, Viteka Musik AG, which included both their own labels and musichouses. But Willy also remained connected to his original home country. In particular, he carried out his production activities in his favourite place, Mallorca, and built a second home together with Olivia. It is there they were always to be found in the music studio.

Within the scope of his entrepreneurial activities, he specialized, in addition to his own music production, in the classical activity of a sub-publisher in Switzerland and had many important works in his catalogue: among others by Kylie Minogue, Milva, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Donna Summer, Cliff Richard, Aitken & Watermann and many more.

Great commitment to the Swiss music industry

Willy Viteka recognised early on that music publishers and producers not only have to be creative and entrepreneurial, but that they also have to fight for an economically viable environment. Although there were already a large number of associations in the music industry in Switzerland at this time, he was unable to find one as a “production-oriented publisher” and immediately sought like-minded entrepreneurs to found a new association together with them. This is why one might as well call him the creative father of the SVMV, the Swiss Association of Music Publishers, which he presided over for 27 years. In 2019, he was appointed honorary president for his great services. He was also intensively involved in the founding of the ASMP, the “Association of Swiss Music Producers”, which he chaired simultaneously to the SVMV.

However, the work was not done with the establishment of industry associations, as these also required activities to achieve the desired effects. This includes exerting influence in important bodies of the Swiss music industry, in a large number of ad hoc commissions and above all in the legislative authorities. Mutual training and exchange between entrepreneurs and, in particular, the training of young people in the sector also became an important activity, as there were no specialised schools and universities for these professions in Switzerland. For example, Willy organised training events over the years together with members of the board of the association he initiated and with the constant help of his wife Olivia as secretary. These culminated in the two-day music symposium in Fürigen, which became the most important annual professional event in the music industry calendar.

With the revision of the copyright law in the 1980s and the resulting establishment of neighbouring rights, Swissperform was subsequently founded, in which Willy was involved as a delegate from the very beginning. He was also a member of the Expert Committee of Phono Producers for several years. For many years, he has also participated in the copyright discussions of the Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), as well as in the development of standard contracts for music publishers, sub-publishers and producers.

Died at the age of 70

After being hospitalised due to an accident, Willy Viteka was, on top of that, infected with Covid-19. Although he was still cured of the virus itself, he was so weakened by the disease that he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 70, which he contracted during convalescence.

We will remember Willy as an extraordinarily good-natured and warm person, who with his approachable manner and great dedication has forged many friendships in the Swiss music industry and beyond.

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Willy Viteka, an entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the Swiss music industry as a classical producer-music publisher, passed away on 19 May 2020. Obituary by guest author Stephan F. Peterer

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka was a long-standing member of SUISA both as an author and as a publisher. (Photo: zVg)

Born in Madrid on 6 November 1949, he discovered a great enthusiasm for the various arts at an early age and studied art, literature and music with determination. He built up his extensive knowledge and network in the music industry by working in important locations of the western music scene and thus was able to gain extensive experience. In particular, he used part of his “journeyman years” in the 1970s, which were particularly important for the music scene, as a studio musician, producer,...read more

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

In 2019, SUISA recorded its best results in its 96-yrear history, with total revenues of CHF 171 million. Moreover, thanks to the excellent investment year in 2019, its investment performance also attained record heights. After deducting an average cost-coverage contribution of 13% from total royalty revenues of CHF 155.2 million, SUISA will be able to distribute CHF 135 million to rightholders in Switzerland and abroad. And yet, three months on, everything has changed. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

Three months after SUISA’s gratifying 2019 financial statements, instruments in concert halls fell silent. (Photo: VTT Studio / Shutterstock.com)

No sooner had SUISA announced its best results in its 96-year history, than a general ban was imposed on all public events, and all venues were shut down in March 2020, triggering an unprecedented negative record: one after the other, concerts, shows and dance events were cancelled. Overnight, bookings were struck from musicians’ calendars. In concert venues, musical instruments fell silent.

This cannot fail to impact SUISA’s business. Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, we are currently assuming that SUISA’s total revenues – and therefore the amount available for distribution – will fall by up to 25% by the end of 2020. Nobody can tell for sure today, much will depend on how the epidemic develops here and abroad, but a hefty recession seems imminent. It will take time to get back to normalcy, and we expect recovery to be no more than hesitant next year too.

In this crisis, SUISA is determined to prove itself a reliable partner both for music creators and music users. Appropriate measures have been put in place to support musicians, and an accommodating approach has been adopted towards customer payments. Meanwhile, new online forms of music performance are becoming more important as a source of royalties. Streaming may be the technology of the hour, but it only brings authors and music publishers a fraction of the revenues generated by live concerts.

“In this crisis, SUISA is determined to prove itself a reliable partner both for music creators and music users.”

SUISA has remained and remains active during the corona crisis. We are the hub for inquiries from members and customers. Although there are fewer events, we intend to maintain and even expand our services through automation. Unfortunately, the Board and the Executive Committee will not be able to welcome members personally to the General Meeting in Bern this year. To have a say in SUISA’s affairs, members will have to send in their vote by post. We encourage you to make use of this opportunity.

In any event, the employees at our three offices in Zurich, Lugano and Lausanne remain at your disposal. When work is slow, staff will be able to attend training courses; moreover, we are working full speed to develop online self-service services to give you more time to focus on your strengths. Making music, innovating, promoting. Despite the corona crisis, I wish you a challenging and productive summer.

SUISA matters: SUISAinfo 3.20, digital only
This autumn, the News for SUISA members will be sent by e-mail in digital format only. To contain costs in this difficult year, the hardcopy printed version will not be produced. SUISA provides regular news updates via www.suisa.ch, www.suisablog.ch, and SUISA Music Stories on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. (Manu Leuenberger)
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In 2019, SUISA recorded its best results in its 96-yrear history, with total revenues of CHF 171 million. Moreover, thanks to the excellent investment year in 2019, its investment performance also attained record heights. After deducting an average cost-coverage contribution of 13% from total royalty revenues of CHF 155.2 million, SUISA will be able to distribute CHF 135 million to rightholders in Switzerland and abroad. And yet, three months on, everything has changed. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

Three months after SUISA’s gratifying 2019 financial statements, instruments in concert halls fell silent. (Photo: VTT Studio / Shutterstock.com)

No sooner had SUISA announced its best results in its 96-year history, than a general ban was imposed on all public events, and all venues were shut down in March 2020, triggering an unprecedented negative record: one...read more