Author Archives: Manu Leuenberger

Livestream licensing by SUISA

Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought in revenues of USD 44m.

These online events regularly fuel debate in the media, as well as between music creators and, naturally, the organisers of livestreaming events. More often than not, discussions revolve around the licensing terms and conditions for the necessary livestreaming rights.

What is a livestream?

A livestream is an event that is aired individually and in real time over the internet. The audience can log in at the start of the event and follow the event live – for free or for a fee. Livestreams should be distinguished from on-demand offers where spectators can choose to view the content at the time of their choice. Moreover, a livestream is not a broadcast, where contents are also transmitted in real time, but as programmes in a succession of broadcasts and not as individual events. A livestreaming licence is required for any individual event that is simultaneously recorded and streamed over the internet where the audience cannot freely choose when to view it.

Livestream licensing conditions are based on performance tariffs

Since streamed events are generally events that could just as well be staged live in the presence of an audience or performed by way of replacement for such events, the licensing terms are based on the terms and conditions of the relevant performance tariffs. Accordingly, the same percentage rate will apply to a streamed concert as that applied to a concert performed with a physical audience under Common Tariff K (CT K). Proceeding by analogy with the performance tariffs ensures that organisers of virtual and physical concerts are treated on an equal footing since their events tend to be reciprocal substitutes.

Licensing conditions distinguish between different categories: concerts, DJ sets, shows and ballet performances, and theatrical plays. The relevant rate is applied to revenues or costs as provided in the performance tariffs (CT K and CT Hb). Also in accordance with the latter, rates are adjusted proportionately with the duration of the protected music used (pro rata temporis rule). In addition to these categories, other classes of events, such as sports events, evening entertainment, seminars, religious services, events in homes and hospitals, etc. are grouped under “other events” – in this case, a flat rate of 2% of gross revenues or costs is applied.

If revenues are less than the gross cost, or if there are no revenues, the above rates are applied to total costs. As in the case of the performance tariffs, music-related gross costs are deducted. These costs consist of the following: musicians’ fees and expenses, rental of sound and recording equipment (microphones, mixing console, camera, etc.), instrument rental, and rent for the location.

Events with an audience that are additionally streamed

Live events are often staged with a small physical audience and simultaneously aired over the internet to extend their reach. In such cases, the organiser will need a “normal” licence for the performance rights and an additional licence for the livestream. As a rule, this means that, in addition to the fees charged under the performance tariff, the minimum fee CHF 40 will be charged for the livestream, since the revenues or costs of the event are already taken into account in the performance licensing fee. However, if the livestream generates separate revenues, the licence fees for the livestream will be charged on that basis.

Viewing streams after the live event

Many livestream organisers leave recordings of the stream on the internet for a certain period time after the live event; these recordings can be subsequently called up and viewed by people who missed the livestream at the official time. Provided the livestream was properly declared and licensed, SUISA allows it to be stored for subsequent viewing for a flat fee of CHF 100 in the case of concerts and DJ sets – for all other types of events the flat fee is CHF 50.

What rights are covered by the licence?

For organisers established in Switzerland or Liechtenstein whose streams are primarily intended for a domestic (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) audience, SUISA can licence the rights for the world repertoire. In the case of international organisers whose streams are intended for audiences including Switzerland and Liechtenstein, SUISA can licence the world repertoire for uses in our territory; in this case, the licence fees will be calculated only on the basis of the sales realised in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In the livestream area, SUISA only manages authors’ musical copyrights. For all other rights, e.g. neighbouring rights or synchronisation rights, users should contact the relevant rightholders.

Livestreams with music must be registered with SUISA

Please refer to our website for the licensing terms and conditions, application form, and further information about livestreams:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/online/video/live-streams.html

To complete your application, the following information is required:

  • customer’s contact particulars
  • category of the livestream
  • livestream particulars title, duration, date, website URL, number of views
  • total revenues
  • (gross) costs
  • Will the event be recorded and stored for subsequent viewing? (yes/no)
  • list of musical works contained in the livestream

A licence is also required for livestreams produced via an external platform and embedded on your own website (e.g. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Youtube Live or Twitch).

The rules governing current temporary exceptions in the livestream area proceeding from federal measures to combat the corona pandemic are also published on our website:
www.suisa.ch/en/suisa/measures-corona-pandemic/information-for-customers.html

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Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought...read more

Are royalties subject to social security (AHV/AVS) contributions?

Do royalties qualify as earnings from self-employment? Swiss AHV/AVS compensation offices follow different practices. Text by Michelle Moser

Are royalties subject to social security (AHV/AVS) contributions?

Saving for retirement: Swiss compensation offices do not agree on whether or not royalties are subject to social security contributions. (Photo: Nattapol Sritongcom / Shutterstock.com)

Musicians often earn their living from several different sources: fees from concerts, a teacher’s salary from the music school, fees for commissioned works, or remuneration collected by SUISA on their behalf.

The different cantonal compensation offices have no uniform position on whether the remuneration distributed by SUISA qualifies as income from gainful self-employment – which would be subject to AHV/AVS contributions.

AHV/AVS – mandatory insurance for all

All Swiss residents and persons gainfully employed in Switzerland are subject to mandatory retirement, disability, and survivors’ insurance. And all those insured (except children) are accordingly required to pay social security (AHV/AVS) contributions. The contributions are normally assessed on the income earned from gainful employment.

For persons who are gainfully self-employed, contributions are assessed on the income earned from one’s own entrepreneurial, commercial, or business activities.

In principle, the following guidelines apply: AHV/AVS contributions must be paid on the earnings declared in one’s tax return. This is not the case for income from capital investments or real property, for example, which is taxable income but is not subject to AHV/AVS contributions.

Royalties: income from employment or from capital investment?

For SVA Zurich, the social security institution, royalties basically qualify as income from self-employment and should be declared accordingly. As a result, authors must register as self-employeds.

SVA Zurich does, however, make a distinction between authors who actively exploit their works and authors who do not. Authors who actively exploit their works after creating them (e.g. as a member of a band playing its own compositions) qualify as gainfully employed. This includes collective administration by SUISA. The earnings from such gainful employment are subject to AHV/AVS contributions.

The subsequent royalties received by authors who do not actively exploit their works after creating them, on the other hand, qualify as income from capital investments, and are not subject to AHV/AVS contributions.

In summary, for SVA Zurich what is decisive is whether an author participates in the performance of the works or merely “reaps” the proceeds from his earlier compositions.

Different practice from one canton to the other

Whether AHV/AVS contributions are payable on remuneration distributed by the collecting societies is decided differently by the compensation offices depending on who is asking, and the amount involved.

Unlike SVA Zurich, the compensation office of the canton of Vaud, for example, holds that remuneration for the creation of works is by definition subject to AHV/AVS contributions, while the remuneration from subsequent uses distributed by the collecting societies qualifies as capital gains and is not subject to social security contributions. It follows, therefore, that none of the remuneration distributed by the collecting societies is subject to AHV/AVS contributions.

In the final analysis, the decision on these social insurance issues does not lie with the collecting societies but with the compensation offices. For this reason, the Swiss collecting societies advise their members to contact the competent compensation office to establish what exactly their AHV/AVS contribution obligations are.

The different practices of cantonal compensation offices with regard to social security contributory obligations on royalties offers no legal certainty and is unsatisfactory. The Swiss collecting societies will follow this issue closely and keep their members informed of any changes.

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  1. Ich bin erstaunt bezüglich unterschiedlicher Handhabung von Ausgleichskassen von Urheberrechten/-entschädigungen. Jede AHV-Ausgleichskasse hat die gesetzlichen Grundlagen anzuwenden und wenn etwas unklar ist, ist dies durch das BSV klarzustellen. Der unterschiedlichen Handhabung wären u.a. auch Autoren (mit oder ohne Vorlesung) ausgesetzt. Dies meine Ansicht als Eidg. Dipl. Sozialversicherungsexperte.

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.

Do royalties qualify as earnings from self-employment? Swiss AHV/AVS compensation offices follow different practices. Text by Michelle Moser

Are royalties subject to social security (AHV/AVS) contributions?

Saving for retirement: Swiss compensation offices do not agree on whether or not royalties are subject to social security contributions. (Photo: Nattapol Sritongcom / Shutterstock.com)

Musicians often earn their living from several different sources: fees from concerts, a teacher’s salary from the music school, fees for commissioned works, or remuneration collected by SUISA on their behalf.

The different cantonal compensation offices have no uniform position on whether the remuneration distributed by SUISA qualifies as income from gainful self-employment – which would be subject to AHV/AVS contributions.

AHV/AVS – mandatory insurance for all

All Swiss residents and persons gainfully employed in Switzerland are subject to mandatory retirement, disability, and survivors’ insurance. And all those insured (except children) are accordingly...read more

Changes to the SUISA organisation chart

In the course of the retirement of our Head of the International Documentation Department, the Executive Committee decided several modifications of SUISA’s organisation chart , taking effect from 1 March 2021. These modifications also entail changes in terms of staff responsibilities. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes to the SUISA organisation chart

Brigitte Küng (image taken during a management seminar in 2012) worked for SUISA for nearly half a century and her last position was that of Head of the International Documentation Department. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

After more than 48 years at SUISA, Brigitte Küng took her retirement at the end of February 2021.

In 1972, she started her apprenticeship with SUISA and stayed true to SUISA for nearly half a century! Her first role included the distribution of licences for sound recordings in the then MECHANLIZENZ, from 1973 she continued her task after the merger with SUISA. She continued to work in the International Documentation and finally took over the helm of said department which she led successfully up to the date of her retirement.

Brigitte Küng was also responsible for the global database of the “Compositeurs, Auteurs and Editeurs (CAE)” which is nowadays known as IPI (Interested Party Information) and reflects all interested parties in the copyright world. She became a very highly appreciated contact for documentation queries among colleagues around the world. With regards to new collective management organisations, Brigitte Küng held courses for the build-up and maintenance of documentation data. She was travelling several continents to fulfil this task.

We thank Brigitte Küng very much for her many years of loyalty and her excellent work for SUISA!

Wolfgang Rudigier takes over the International Documentation Department

Brigitte Küng’s valuable work is continued by Wolfgang Rudigier. From 1 March 2021 onwards, he has taken over the responsibility for the International Documentation in addition to the Distribution Department. Due to his long-term experience as Head of the Distribution Department, he also holds a well-founded knowledge regarding the documentation sector. Thanks to these skills, synergies can be created, not least because documentation and distribution go hand in hand from a process perspective.

Claudia Kempf now in charge of the Domestic Settlement Inquiries team

In parallel, the group referred to as Domestic Settlement Inquiries which had been located under the Distribution Department was shifted across to the Members Department and therefore to Claudia Kempf from 01 March 2021. The Members Department can, as a consequence of this organisational change, provide a comprehensive service and support and advise SUISA members both in terms of the rights administration agreement and work registrations and distribution queries.

Hansruedi Jung looks after IPI

The IPI (Interested Party Information) was integrated into the IT Department and is now in the remit of Hansruedi Jung, Head of Systems Technology. The IPI is our international database of authors and publishers which reflects member agreements from all over the world. The technical infrastructure of the IPI belongs to SUISA. It issues an invoice to collective management organisations which are using the system for this service provided to them by SUISA each year.

New organisation team leaders

These changes in the SUISA organisation chart also led to re-organisations at team leader levels: Simon Klopfenstein holds the team Domestic Settlement Inquiries from 01 March 2021 and thus changed across to the Members Department.

Eva Bisaz continues to be in charge of the group International Distribution and Settlement Inquiries (sister societies) within the Distribution Department, but has also taken on the group Domestic Broadcasting Distribution from 01 March 2021 onwards.

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In the course of the retirement of our Head of the International Documentation Department, the Executive Committee decided several modifications of SUISA’s organisation chart , taking effect from 1 March 2021. These modifications also entail changes in terms of staff responsibilities. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes to the SUISA organisation chart

Brigitte Küng (image taken during a management seminar in 2012) worked for SUISA for nearly half a century and her last position was that of Head of the International Documentation Department. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

After more than 48 years at SUISA, Brigitte Küng took her retirement at the end of February 2021.

In 1972, she started her apprenticeship with SUISA and stayed true to SUISA for nearly half a century! Her first role included the distribution of licences for sound recordings in the then MECHANLIZENZ, from 1973 she...read more

Musikexport – quo vadis?

Covid-19, digitisation, climate crisis: Musikexport in extraordinary times. Experiences and thoughts on the subject by Marcel Kaufmann, responsible at FONDATION SUISA for its presence abroad and the export promotion.

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

Will there ever be a back to “normal” times? The Swiss joint exhibition stand at the jazzahead! Bremen 2019. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Since the internet revolution of the 90ies, the value creation on the music market shifted to a large part towards the live sector. Concerts became the most important income stream for many musicians. One of the consequences was that numerous showcase events were launched. Artists could perform in front of international experts during short live concerts. This was done in the hope that they would get bookings in bigger clubs or festivals or taken under contract by international agencies. Together with various partners, the FONDATION SUISA supports the export endeavours of the domestic creators. For many years, the foundation organises Swiss networking platforms at international conferences and events.

This well-functioning system of travel, performances and shaking hands was brought to an abrupt halt by the pandemic. It was more or less overnight that music creators lost a large portion of their income, and at the same time also their export paths.

What now? How can they bridge this period? And what would happen if the “normality” we all love so much is never to return?

FONDATION SUISA took part in many pilot projects last year, tested chat tools, supported showcase videos via streams and negotiated potential new subsidising avenues with event organisers and promoters. “An interesting experience”, “a welcome transitional solution”, but surely “no surrogate for a real live performance”: This is our verdict at the end of 2020, in conformity with a large group of music creators and event organisers.

“Networking via the internet is, to many, still a very strange concept.”

The pandemic entailed cancellations of practically all physical face-to-face music conferences and exhibitions in 2020. Some, like Midem or WOMEX tried to hold virtual events. Back then, the planning insecurity was still too high. It was impossible to even consider being able to organise concerts again in the near future. In line with this, promoters booked much less artists during such online events than for physical events with a face-to-face audience. The ambiance of a live concerts can also not be recreated on a 1:1 level. And networking via the internet is, to many, still a very strange concept.

The most recent virtually held jazzahead! in Bremen confirmed these findings to a large degree. Ok, so it was easier to establish contact among those accredited for participation via the internet than on heaving exhibition grounds. In the absence of a collective feeling, however, you soon turn into a lone fighter. The real success of the Swiss presence at the biggest jazz conference in the world this year will only emerge in a few weeks and after surveys and conversations. In the past, it was possible to draw conclusions on the last day of the conference.

The two Swiss live acts in the official showcase programme of the jazzahead! chose different approaches: The formation The True Harry Nulz performed live in Bremen in front of a handful of journalists which at least applauded after each song which could be heard in the live stream. The showcase of the Luzia von Wyl Ensemble, however, had been pre-produced without an audience in the Moods in Zurich and then streamed. The silence between the pieces and the lack of feedback leave the performers in a vacuum.

“We must constantly create new scenarios, remain open and critically assess our own impressions.”

Now that in the face of the vaccination campaigns there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel again, it would be easy to fall into a state of hopeful anticipation and do away with the online world as a pure temporary solution. In a time, however, where our entire work life is significantly changed by the digitisation, many questions arise: Is there possibly more export potential in the online world as previously assumed? Can we even afford the old “normal” in times of a global climate crisis which will survive each pandemic? A crisis which is going to have a lasting effect on generations of future music creators and take many opportunities away from them?

There are still no conclusive answers to all of these questions. The most important developments do not take place online but in our heads. And these developments take more time than the technological ones. Until then, we must constantly create new scenarios, remain open and critically assess our own impressions. The most important factor is: listen to the music creators. Because their art must find its way across the country borders, also in the future. For them, FONDATION SUISA will continue to actively monitor and influence the developments in the music export world.

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Covid-19, digitisation, climate crisis: Musikexport in extraordinary times. Experiences and thoughts on the subject by Marcel Kaufmann, responsible at FONDATION SUISA for its presence abroad and the export promotion.

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

Will there ever be a back to “normal” times? The Swiss joint exhibition stand at the jazzahead! Bremen 2019. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Since the internet revolution of the 90ies, the value creation on the music market shifted to a large part towards the live sector. Concerts became the most important income stream for many musicians. One of the consequences was that numerous showcase events were launched. Artists could perform in front of international experts during short live concerts. This was done in the hope that they would get bookings in bigger clubs or festivals or taken under contract by international agencies. Together with various partners, the...read more

A worthy result despite Covid

2020 was an annus horribilis for many music creators. Concerts and other events were by and large prohibited. Most organisers, artists and authors thus lost a large part of their income. Thanks to the good performance in other areas and to its prompt action, SUISA managed to contain the financial damage for many entitled parties. Text by Andreas Wegelin

A worthy result despite COVID

Concerts were hardly possible from February 2020 onwards. However, thanks to an increase in the online sector, SUISA’s annual result turned out relatively good. (Photo: Oleksii Synelnykov / Shutterstock)

After being hit by the Covid pandemic, the world went into a state of shock. The pandemic impacted – and continues to impact – large segments of the economy. The cultural sector, and music creators as part of it, were hit especially hard. “First to close, last to open”. Creators and organisers were the first to be affected by the shutdowns and restrictions, and they will be the last able to fully resume their work.

Needless to say, the difficult situation for the cultural sector also affected SUISA’s annual results. After all, in the past, performance rights, i.e. revenues from concerts and other performances, music usage in businesses and restaurants, and music for parties, accounted for 35% of SUISA’s rights administration revenues. After nearly all events were prohibited in March 2020, it was clear that SUISA’s revenues – especially from performance rights – would fall short of the prior year’s. It was hard to predict, however, how steep the downturn would be, and whether revenues from other rights would also be adversely affected.

The steep downturn in revenues from performance rights was partially compensated by other rights revenues

As it fortunately turned out, SUISA’s turnover was less severely impacted than had been feared. Last year, SUISA recorded total revenues, domestic and international, of CHF 138.5m: this is 12% less than the prior year (CHF 155.2m). As expected, the shortfall in performance rights accounted for greater part of the downturn: while in 2019, revenues from performance rights had attained CHF 51.2m, in 2020 they only reached CHF 34.4m, i.e. 34% less.

SUISA managed to make up for this shortfall in other areas. Revenues from broadcasting rights increased slightly – from CHF 63.6m in 2019 to CHF 64.3m in 2020. Downturns that had been feared, for example in advertising revenues from TV and radio broadcasts following the cancellation of many large events, failed to materialise.

Positive trend in online business thanks to SUISA Digital Licensing and Mint

The trend in revenues from online uses was extremely positive: online revenues climbed from CHF 8.8m in 2019 to CHF 11.4m last year. This was especially thanks to the growth in revenues realised by SUISA’s subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing. The latter succeeded in acquiring a number of new customers including foreign sister societies and music publishers, and also managed to negotiate improved contract terms with online providers of streaming and downloading platforms.

This satisfactory development in the online area is all to the benefit of the authors and publishers whose works are increasingly streamed on the various platforms. Even Mint, the joint venture with the US society SESAC, continued its expansion last year as a provider of services to various music publishers and foreign sister societies.

SUISA has responded to the crisis

The fact that, from the outset of the pandemic, SUISA responded promptly – with a view to cutting costs on the one hand, and to distributing as much as possible to authors and publishers on the other – also contributed to the relatively good year.

Projects that were not urgent were deferred or even cancelled and, wherever possible, staff departures were not replaced. Certain expenditures, such as sponsoring contributions and travel expenses, disappeared anyway because of the pandemic. And SUISA did everything possible to invoice all and every use of music – including those pertaining to prior years – and collect the revenues. At a time when nearly all performances have been barred, the royalties from SUISA are more important than ever for many music creators.

Supplemental distributions from released settlement liabilities

In 2021, SUISA was again able to allocate a supplemental distribution of 7% on all settlement amounts from the released provisions for settlement liabilities which could not be distributed after five years in absence of the necessary information on the entitled parties.

Understanding for customers

Its efforts to collect the greatest amount in revenues does not mean, however, that SUISA is blind to the circumstances of its customers. On the contrary: precisely in the case of the inns and restaurants which were severely affected by the shutdowns ordered by the authorities, SUISA demonstrated goodwill with regard to invoice payments, granting extended payment terms for example, and permitted refunds to customers who had made down payments but had no music usage in the period. Ultimately, it is in the interest of SUISA and its members to ensure that businesses, organisers, and other music users survive and continue to use music. After all, there will be a time after the Covid-pandemic, and SUISA must do its utmost to ensure that, in that future, it can continue to distribute the largest possible amount in royalties to the authors and publishers of music.

SUISA’s detailed 2020 results can be found in the 2020 Annual Report, in which this article (on pages 9/10) also appeared: www.suisa.ch/annualreport

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2020 was an annus horribilis for many music creators. Concerts and other events were by and large prohibited. Most organisers, artists and authors thus lost a large part of their income. Thanks to the good performance in other areas and to its prompt action, SUISA managed to contain the financial damage for many entitled parties. Text by Andreas Wegelin

A worthy result despite COVID

Concerts were hardly possible from February 2020 onwards. However, thanks to an increase in the online sector, SUISA’s annual result turned out relatively good. (Photo: Oleksii Synelnykov / Shutterstock)

After being hit by the Covid pandemic, the world went into a state of shock. The pandemic impacted – and continues to impact – large segments of the economy. The cultural sector, and music creators as part of it, were hit especially hard. “First to...read more

Full speed ahead

The Corona pandemic continues to direct the course of SUISA’s business. This was clearly perceptible at the Board meeting in April. Which is why it is all the more important to set the course for the future. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board of Directors: Full speed ahead

Despite adverse circumstances, the Cooperative Society SUISA stayed its course in the interest of its members and principals. (Photo: Lobroart / Shutterstock.com)

Business as usual – this expression may sound odd in Corona year 2. And yet, at the last spring meeting, much remained the (new) same. After one year of Corona, SUISA’s Board and Executive Committee have grown accustomed to meeting via videoconference. Just as they have become inured to the rolling budgeting rendered necessary by the uncertain situation in the cultural sector.

And yet, this year, the first Board meeting was special. After a bumper year in 2019, SUISA saw a downturn in revenues in 2020 – as was only to be expected given the pandemic. However, the decline was less steep than had been feared. Turnover dropped 12% overall. This was primarily due to the drastic fall in revenues from performance rights. Corona-related bans on events, and recurrent business shutdowns led to a 34% decline in revenues from this sector. The most affected were concert licence fees (–51%), restaurants (–46%), entertainment events (–47%) and cinemas (–59%).

Relatively good performance thanks to broadcasting rights and online uses

That total sales “only” declined by 12% was due to a slight increase in broadcasting rights and, above all, to the growth in revenues from online business. Good secondary income and strong cost awareness within SUISA also contributed.

It follows, therefore, that the amount distributable to authors and publishers also declined – by 10.5% overall. Moreover, the Board decided to allocate an unchanged additional distribution of 7% from the released settlement provisions on all uses of works to be settled in 2021.

The business activities of our subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing, responsible for global online licensing, developed satisfactorily. In 2020, SUISA Digital Licensing generated about CHF 5.5m in revenues. The Board acknowledged the financial situation of SUISA Digital Licensing and the current status of the joint venture Mint Digital Services. Since both companies are still in development, the Board decided the necessary measures to ensure the equilibrium of SUISA Digital Licensing’s balance sheet. SUISA’s claims on Mint for business development costs (under del credere provisions) were extended for an additional year and the additional claim from 2020 was in its turn written off in the financial statements.

The 2021 General Meeting will take place by written correspondence again

In view of the continuing uncertainty with regard to indoor assemblies, the Board decided that the General Meeting would perforce be held for a second time by written correspondence. The Board nominated State Councillor (FDP/Freibourg) to succeed Géraldine Savary who was withdrawing. Video messages from Johanna Gapany, SUISA President Xavier Dayer, and CEO Andreas Wegelin, and information about the 2021 General Meeting to be held by written correspondence is available under www.suisa.ch/en/members/general-assembly.html and on the SUISAblog.

Status of 2021 budget with the ongoing Corona crisis

The uncertain situation in the cultural sector owing to the Corona crisis continues to cause concern. When and how performances will be able to be staged anew, and music halls and theatres will be able to open, is still unknown. As a result, rolling budget planning continues to be the order of the day as in past months. The Board’s Finance Committee will decide in early June 2021 whether the budget approved in December 2020 needs re-adjusting because of Corona.

Thanks to the emergency Corona fund, the Pension Fund for authors and publishers, and the extended rules on advances, SUISA has been able to support its members in these difficult times. In this regard, the Board decided to extend the time limit for the repayment or compensation of advances against current settlements until the end of June 2022.

Mint joint venture to be strengthened

Apart from music publishers – including BMG for Australia, Africa and India – Mint’s customers for online licensing now also include European sister societies. Mint offers their repertoires in bundles to online providers such as Spotify, Apple Music, or Youtube.

By bundling repertoires, Mint is strengthening its market position in online music rights. Despite the small Swiss repertoire, SUISA has become a serious negotiating partner thanks to Mint and SUISA Digital Licensing and the bundling of its repertoire. Depending on the country, its market share of the global repertoire varies between 4 and 10%. At the meeting, the Board defined the conditions to be applied to large European collecting societies wishing to participate in the Mint joint venture. This will further strengthen Mint’s market position in the constantly growing market for online music rights.

Adapting the range of services for members and principals

In the Report on the December meeting, we mentioned that the Board was looking to reorganise the services provided to members and principals with a view to saving costs. As of 2022, principals will only be able to access SUISA’s extended range of services through the online service portal. Comprehensive information on revenues and invoicing will be even easier for principals to find on the portal thanks to the new functionalities. Instead of time-consuming inquiries by phone, letter or email, principals will be able to call up all the data on their relationship with SUISA online through their individual “My account” access. Voting members will have access to these same services via the online service portal; in addition, however, they will continue to be entitled to personal advisory services.

As the above-mentioned Report says, in December 2020, the Board decided that authors and publishers would be admitted as members with full voting rights once they have been principals for at least one year and have received over CHF 3000 (previously 2000) in settlements since first registering as principals. Moreover, members who have received distributions totalling less than CHF 3000 over the last ten years would revert back to the status of principal. This change is in accordance with Article 5.5.4 of SUISA’s Articles of Association. Principals do not have voting rights in the Society, but they are entitled to the same licensing and distribution of revenues from the use of their works; principals have no financial disadvantage over voting members.

These measures – especially the upgrading of services through the members portal – are designed to further enhance SUISA’s efficiency. And, as a result, to distribute a higher share of revenues to authors and publishers.

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The Corona pandemic continues to direct the course of SUISA’s business. This was clearly perceptible at the Board meeting in April. Which is why it is all the more important to set the course for the future. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board of Directors: Full speed ahead

Despite adverse circumstances, the Cooperative Society SUISA stayed its course in the interest of its members and principals. (Photo: Lobroart / Shutterstock.com)

Business as usual – this expression may sound odd in Corona year 2. And yet, at the last spring meeting, much remained the (new) same. After one year of Corona, SUISA’s Board and Executive Committee have grown accustomed to meeting via videoconference. Just as they have become inured to the rolling budgeting rendered necessary by the uncertain situation in the cultural sector.

And yet, this year,...read more

No physical General Meeting in 2021 either | plus video

Members with voting rights can still co-determine the fate of the SUISA Cooperative by casting their votes in writing. Text by Regula Greuter; Videos by Manu Leuenberger

No physical General Meeting in 2021 either

The big room in the Bierhübeli in Berne remains empty: The SUISA “AGM” 2021 will be held based on voting in written format. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger, edited by Likeberry and Schellenberg Druck AG)

Not quite as expected, the Covid-19 pandemic prevents holding a face-to-face General Meeting again this year. The plan was that the Bierhübeli in Berne should be the venue for this year’s event on 25 June 2021. The current situation, however, allows for no reliable planning of the event and the Board of Directors has consequently decided during its meeting on 22 April 2021 that the General Meeting should be held again this year by participation via voting in writing. That way, all members entitled to vote have the opportunity to participate in the AGM without taking a health risk.

Organisational execution

From 25 May 2021 onwards, the documents for the General Meeting will be dispatched to all members entitled to vote (invitation to voting by letter, information on the General Meeting including the agenda items and the voting form). From the day you receive the documents you can complete the personalised voting form, sign it and return it to SUISA by letter no later than 25 June 2021 (25th June is the latest date of receipt).

The results of the votes are then counted by the election office headed by Dr. Bernhard Wittweiler (head of SUISA’s Legal Department).

The results of the vote and election will be formally established by the President, the Secretary, the CEO and the Head of the Legal Department on the basis of the count and published on the SUISA website on 30 June 2021.

Agenda items of this year’s General Meeting

Apart from the usual statutory business, i.e. ratification of the minutes, decisions on the financial statements, the management report and the annual report of the SUISA cooperative and the SUISA group – the General Meeting will be presented with a motion to adapt the general rules on investment and a surrogate candidate for Géraldine Savary who is stepping down from her post.

Adapting the general rules on investment

It is a matter of increasingly social concern to sustainably manage investments. SUISA is also intending to submit to this. This is why the Board of Directors decided to adapt rules on investment of SUISA by adding the criterion “sustainability”. Apart from the main objectives of the investments, i.e. security and liquidity, the criterion of “sustainability” shall now also be anchored into the general investment rules.

Pursuant to the Articles of Association, the General Meeting is responsible for the general investment policy with regards to the collected remuneration (Article 9.2.2 m).

The Board of Directors therefore proposes that the general rules on investment should be supplemented by the criterion of sustainability.

By-election to the Board

Due to Géraldine Savary who is going to step down (former State Councillor SP/VD) a new member for the Board of Directors will be proposed for election. In accordance with the Articles of Association (Article 9.3.2) apart from SUISA members entitled to vote and be elected, “persons who, on grounds of their position or expertise, have a special involvement with SUISA’s activities” can be elected to the Board of Directors. As a consequence, there were active or former Parliamentarians throughout many years who were members of the Board of Directors who bring valuable experience to SUISA with their expertise.

The Board of Directors therefore proposes that Johanna Gapany (State Councillor FDP/FR) to be newly elected to the SUISA Board of Directors.

Johanna Gapany started her political career in her younger days. This led her from the General Council to the Municipal Council of Bulle, she took a seat in the Grand Council of the Canton of Fribourg from 2016 to 2019 until she was elected in 2019 as the first woman of the Canton of Fribourg to the Council of States. A graduate in business economics, she brings professional experience as a marketing manager in various companies and as a communications manager in a private hospital in Fribourg.

Even though there will be no physical General Meeting in 2021, members with voting rights will be able to have their say on SUISA’s business in writing. We invite you to use this opportunity and to vote!

All documents and details regarding the General Meeting can be accessed at www.suisa.ch/en/members/general-assembly.html. Questions on the process and the agenda items can be sent to the Executive Committee by e-mail: gv (at) suisa (dot) ch

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Members with voting rights can still co-determine the fate of the SUISA Cooperative by casting their votes in writing. Text by Regula Greuter; Videos by Manu Leuenberger

No physical General Meeting in 2021 either

The big room in the Bierhübeli in Berne remains empty: The SUISA “AGM” 2021 will be held based on voting in written format. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger, edited by Likeberry and Schellenberg Druck AG)

Not quite as expected, the Covid-19 pandemic prevents holding a face-to-face General Meeting again this year. The plan was that the Bierhübeli in Berne should be the venue for this year’s event on 25 June 2021. The current situation, however, allows for no reliable planning of the event and the Board of Directors has consequently decided during its meeting on 22 April 2021 that the General Meeting should be held again this year...read more

SUISA Songwriting Camp 2021: now open for applications by SUISA members

The fourth SUISA Songwriting Camp will take place from 5 to 7 July 2021 in the Powerplay Studios in Maur near Zurich. It is possible that due to the corona pandemic not all participants will be able to be present at the studios and will instead join online. SUISA members may apply for participation. Text by Erika Weibel and Manu Leuenberger

SUISA Songwriting Camp 2021: now open for applications by SUISA members

Teamwork at the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2019: start with a blank sheet of paper in the morning and finish with a completed demo track by the evening. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

The SUISA Songwriting Camp offers some of its members the opportunity to team up and compose pop songs under professional conditions with renowned producers and songwriters from Switzerland and abroad. Between 30 and 40 musicians usually take part in the three-day event.

Those who wish to participate in the Songwriting Camp must have well-founded musical knowledge, be able to produce high-level creative output under time pressure, and be open to criticism and exchange with their co-writers.

The challenging task: write a pop song in a team of three to five people within a day, according to certain specifications – start with a blank sheet of paper in the morning and finish with a completed demo track by the evening.

Pop songs with hit potential

The musical style of the songs can comprise all facets of contemporary pop music that could also be successful in the charts, on streaming platforms or on radio/TV. The songs are intended to be offered to publishers and artists or even suitable for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The event, jointly organised between SUISA and Pele Loriano Productions, has already produced several internationally successful pop songs that have made it on to the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). The song “She Got Me”, co-written and sung by Luca Hänni, reached fourth place at the ESC in 2019. The songs “Répondez-moiˮ (Gjon’s Tears, for the event in 2020 that was eventually cancelled), “Stonesˮ (Zibbz, 2018) and “Sisterˮ (Sisters, the German entry in 2019) also qualified. In 2021, “Amenˮ – sung by Vincent Bueno for Austria – became the fifth song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp to reach the semi-finals or finals of the ESC.

Hybrid version of the camp possible

The coronavirus pandemic is still dictating world events. It may therefore be the case that despite safeguarding measures, physical participation of all parties at the Powerplay Studios will not be possible. For this reason, all applicants must have their own technical infrastructure available that would allow online participation. Specifically, you may need to be able to communicate with songwriters remotely using a computer via Wi-Fi, and be able to make professional digital sound recordings and edit music yourself. A Wi-Fi network is available in the studio. Participants must be able to bring their own computers and the necessary (recording) software.

All participants will be informed in good time about the safeguarding protocols and the possible hybrid implementation of the Songwriting Camp.

Applications for the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2021

This year’s SUISA Songwriting Camp takes place from 5 to 7 July 2021 in the Powerplay Studios in Maur near Zurich. The event is again organised by SUISA in collaboration with Pele Loriano Productions. Pele Loriano Productions is responsible for the artistic direction of the Songwriting Camp on behalf of SUISA.

SUISA members can apply to participate in the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2021:
Are you a producer, songwriter (topliner) or a lyricist, and do you think you meet the requirements in terms of musical skill and ability? Do you also have a solid technical infrastructure (computer that can be connected via Wi-Fi and is equipped for professional digital sound recording and music editing) that you can operate and bring with you? In that case, please send us your application, which should contain the following information:

  • short biography
  • meaningful reference songs (mp3 files or internet links)
  • contact details

Please email applications to: songwritingcamp (at) suisa (dot) ch
Closing date for applications: Monday, 7 June 2021.

Important: Participant places are allocated only to SUISA members through this application process. Those who apply should be able to guarantee that they are available to participate on one or all the event days (5-7 July 2021).

Dates and selection of the participants

All artists invited to the camp are selected by the artistic director. A suitable mix of participants is paramount in the creative success of the songwriting sessions.

The artistic programme director will communicate all confirmation messages and invitations, and further details on participation at the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2021 by 27 June 2021. Rejection letters will not be sent. If you have not received a confirmation message by 27 June 2021, you have not been taken into consideration for the Songwriting Camp 2021.

Experience has shown that the number of applications will far exceed the number of available places. Please note that an application does not constitute a claim to participate in the event. Furthermore, no correspondence will be entered into in relation to the allocation of places. No information can yet be given about the implementation of other songwriting camps supported by SUISA.

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The fourth SUISA Songwriting Camp will take place from 5 to 7 July 2021 in the Powerplay Studios in Maur near Zurich. It is possible that due to the corona pandemic not all participants will be able to be present at the studios and will instead join online. SUISA members may apply for participation. Text by Erika Weibel and Manu Leuenberger

SUISA Songwriting Camp 2021: now open for applications by SUISA members

Teamwork at the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2019: start with a blank sheet of paper in the morning and finish with a completed demo track by the evening. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

The SUISA Songwriting Camp offers some of its members the opportunity to team up and compose pop songs under professional conditions with renowned producers and songwriters from Switzerland and abroad. Between 30 and 40 musicians usually take part in the three-day event.

Those...read more

“Amen”: Another ESC song that comes from the SUISA Songwriting Camp

The Eurovision Song Contest will be held again after its 2020 cancellation. A song which was created in the SUISA Songwriting Camp in the Powerplay Studios in Maur will be featured in Rotterdam. We spoke with the SUISA member Tobias Carshey, from Zurich. He wrote “Amen” together with Jonas Thander and Ashley Hicklin. The singer of the song, however, is Vincent Bueno from Vienna – and he performs for Austria. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

“Amen”: Another ESC song that comes from the SUISA Songwriting Camp

Tobias Carshey performs the vocal track for the demo recording of “Amen” at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Tobias Carshey, how do your normally create your songs?
Tobias Carshey: I write from my own life, that is why the results are different each time. I tend to sit down and write, sometimes the melody comes first, more rarely the lyrics, so mostly I start with the music.

Are you usually the sole author of your songs?
When it comes to writing, yes, but not when it comes to arranging.

You have written on your website: “Writing songs is and was always a very personal process to me”. Has it been difficult to work with songwriters that you did not know during the Songwriting Camp?
At the beginning, very much so. I usually withdraw to a quiet place where I can work away. At the Songwriting Camp, I was exposed and had to collaborate with a team. I had done this before, but …

… here, the pressure was probably higher since you worked together with the Swedish producer Jonas Thander and the Scottish topliner Ashley Hicklin for the first time?
That’s right, it is simply a new situation: There are new dynamics which you have to understand first. I was lucky enough that Ashley Hicklin took the reins from the start with a specific notion.

How did this work, did you bring along some ideas for the songs?
I would do it differently today but back then, I simply went there. It was my first time at a Songwriting Camp and I wanted to be completely unbiased. Before we started with the writing process, we listened to a few of my songs so that Jonas Thander and Ashley Hicklin could find out where I come from musically.

Was that the right thing so that the two could find out where your strengths were?
Exactly, in this regard, my song “Almond Eyes” was the starting point.

At a Songwriting Camp, there is a certain specialisation with producers and topliners. What was your role, were you more the singer in the sense of a performer or were you involved as a songwriter?
I was definitely also involved as a songwriter. My two partners accepted me as a peer.

Jonas Thander Ashley Hicklin

The Swedish producer Jonas Thander (left) and the songwriter Ashley Hicklin, a resident of Edinburgh, deeply focussed when working on their composition in the studio A of the Powerplay Studios in Maur. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Did this kind of job sharing make sense to you?
Very much so, because everyone has their own experience and we used this role allocation as a starting point. Friction can easily occur when three songwriters, who do not know each other, work together. That way, you can withdraw to your own competences if you are not in agreement, and still make progress with the song.

How far did the specialisation go?
I was clear who held which role. But each of us was considered to be competent enough to be able to contribute everywhere, whether to songwriting or the lyrics, also the production.

In your opinion, how did the fact contribute that you had never written a song together or played together, and that you weren’t a well-established team?
Ash and Jonas already knew each other but that did not make any difference because they are experienced musicians who know the dynamics of songwriting. As a consequence, it was easy for me to join them as a newcomer and go with the flow, so to speak. If all of us had been newbies, it would probably have been more like a lottery.

Did you also do some jamming or did you decide on something and then each of you separately carried out their job?
There wasn’t a moment where someone was just tinkering on their own – that was a new aspect to me. I am more the type who withdraws in order to continue with the development of an idea to then present it to everyone. At the Songwriting Camp, Ashley Hicklin came up with a refrain pretty much at the beginning. This also acted as the starting point for our work which matched the goal to write an ESC song. And then the path was clear for everyone.

Thander Carshey Hicklin SUISA Songwriting Camp

The co-authors of “Amen”, playing around with their creation (f.l.t.r.): Jonas Thander, SUISA member Tobias Carshey and Ashley Hicklin. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

The refrain came first: How dominant was the goal to write an ESC song, i.e. a potential hit, and to remain catchy?
We were aware of that, but it had no influence on the feeling of the song. We also paid attention that we managed to get to the point with the song in three minutes.

Did the factor that you had to stand out with something special despite the hit character also play a role?
Not especially for us. But our song stood out in comparison to the other songs of the Songwriting Camp because we kept it very tranquil – only piano, guitar and my voice, we also did not use any effects such as auto tuning. That was, in my opinion, the strong point of the song: It also works just with a guitar which seemed to be atypical.

How does the song “Amen” at the end of the Camp day differ from the one that we can hear at the ESC?
It has become more pompous. The original is very reduced: a bass drum, my voice, an acoustic guitar and a piano. Strings and backing vocals can now also be heard.

How come that someone different performs this song, a third of which has, after all, been created by you?
I have written songs for others in the past, and once a performance actually did hurt, because if was a personal song. I do, however, find it very exciting and very beautiful that Vincent Bueno is going to interpret the song “Amen” with his own history which gives it its own proper meaning. No regrets!

How has the Songwriting Camp changed your own personal songwriting process?
The unrestricted, also free approach influenced me most of all. I am otherwise probably too hard on myself, too acrimonious in order to just write away and try things out.

Did you suffer under the speed that the song had to be finished in just one day at the Songwriting Camp?
Yes, I found that difficult. Because, in my view, really cracking, really good and timeless songs need more time for their development. I am used to the fact, however, that I was proven wrong when it came to such dogmas.

www.tobiascarshey.com

Eurovision Song Contest 2021: In the second semi-final of the ESC on 20 May 2021, Vincent Bueno is going to compete with “Amen” for Austria and Gjon’s Tears with “Tout l’univers” for Switzerland. The final will take place on 22 May.

Songwriting Camp: The Songwriting Camp organised by SUISA in collaboration with Pele Loriano Productions has already generated several successful international pop songs. “Amen” is the fifth song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp which made it to the semi-final or final of the Eurovision Song Contest. The song “She Got Me” which had been co-composed and sung by Luca Hänni made it to fourth place during the ESC 2019. Other qualifiers were “Répondez-moi” (Gjon’s Tears, for the eventually cancelled event in 2020), “Stones” (2018, Zibbz) and “Sister” (2019 for Germany, Sisters).

The credits of “Amen”:
Lyrics/Music by: Tobias Carshey (CH), Ashley Hicklin (UK), Jonas Thander (SE). Produced by: Jonas Thander (SE), Mikolaj Trybulec (PL), Pele Loriano (CH). Recorded by: Pele Loriano, Jonas Thander, Mikolaj Trybulec. Mixed by: David Hofmann. Published by: Schneeblind Publishing, ORF Musikverlag. Label: Unified Songs.

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

The Eurovision Song Contest will be held again after its 2020 cancellation. A song which was created in the SUISA Songwriting Camp in the Powerplay Studios in Maur will be featured in Rotterdam. We spoke with the SUISA member Tobias Carshey, from Zurich. He wrote “Amen” together with Jonas Thander and Ashley Hicklin. The singer of the song, however, is Vincent Bueno from Vienna – and he performs for Austria. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

“Amen”: Another ESC song that comes from the SUISA Songwriting Camp

Tobias Carshey performs the vocal track for the demo recording of “Amen” at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Tobias Carshey, how do your normally create your songs?
Tobias Carshey: I write from my own life, that is why the results are different each time. I tend to sit down and write, sometimes the melody comes first,...read more

“As a composer, you’re always a beginner” | plus video

In his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Christian Henking uses the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven as a basis. In his six variations, he utilises different principles. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Christian Henking respects Ludwig van Beethoven, “this monument, this granite rock in music history”. “He is a master teacher to me again and again, independent of the aesthetics; fantastic what he has formally achieved.” As a consequence, Beethoven’s “Variationen über ein Schweizerlied” (Variations on a Swiss song) irritated him even more, as he explains in a conversation at the end of January 2020. “I really don’t understand them, thought, it wasn’t possible that they were by Beethoven.”

Since the composer from Biel and Berne could not relate to these variations, he dealt with the original song, “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once) in more detail. But that was also rather awkward, he thought the melody was strange for a folk song, and he was also missing the elegance of the “Guggisberglied” (Guggisberg song). “At the same time, though, it holds the incredible tension of the huge tonal range. Its straightforward, pulse-like nature is also rather interesting; there isn’t really a rhythm, just those quarter notes that ‘hang about’. The song therefore has a certain emptiness and thus also offers openness.” Christian Henking thus decided to base his composition on the melody of the folk song. Then he also wrote six variations, “just like Beethoven, but rather accidentally”.

Christian Henking explains that he first analysed the melody and then cut it into individual segments. “In my first four variations I regard individual segments of the song, so to speak. The last two relate to the entire song.” He therefore stayed altogether or not altogether with the material: “In the second variation, I avoid, especially when searching for this variation, all notes that occur in the original piece.”

The basic approach was to apply different work modes, respectively different principles for each variation. The concept crystallised while composing and developed further. “I knew that I wanted to compose miniatures, short variation movements. I first wrote the 5th variation. Then I realised that I did not want to begin in such a machine-like manner, and therefore did something rather unrestricted as a contrast. One consequently affected the other. And from such relativities, many interrelations arose.”

Christian Henking very often works at the desk, and composes in his head. In order to stimulate his imagination, he often plays piano or cello. “While improvising, I often get ideas, very simple. That is my old-fashioned vein; I am really rather far away from the computer when I compose, I actually write the notes by hand onto the score sheet.” This also includes that he plays all instruments of his scores himself one time. “I like to have the instrument in my fingers. Not in order to hear its sound – I am a pianist, not a string player – but to play the fingerings, sounds and bow positions myself. Strangely, it helps me compose when I apply the haptics in this context even if it was not necessary; it provides me with a kind of grounding.”

Christian Henking selected the combination of strings trio with flute on the one hand because he wanted a small instrumentation so that no conductor was needed. He does, on the other hand, mainly find this instrumentation fascinating. “I have a close relationship with string trios per se. And then the flute joins in, as a kind of outsider, and melts with the sound of the trio.”

You must not expect a “typical Henking composition”. He rather sees “the task of a composer to look at each piece as if it was new, since as a composer, you are always a beginner”. Christian Henking has even started from scratch for each of his variations within the piece and consciously worked with different approaches and techniques: “This is what makes up the art of composing”. To start from scratch also signified to have a heap of possibilities ahead of oneself. Facing so many freedoms, one would have to reflect. He then also sees the risk to select and use a means or a method too quickly because it has worked in one place and has already been tried and tested before. “Routine is a risk and I fight against this with each note.”

During the conversation at the end of January 2020, the composition process had already been mostly concluded. “Everything is here now”, explains Christian Henking and points to numerous score sheets. “I will rethink everything again so that it is possible I apply corrections and other alterations.” Then, however, the composition will be finished into the last detail. Compared to other works, Christian Henking does not grant the performers any freedoms here.

Christian Henking was born in Basel in 1961. He studied music theory at the Conservatory Berne under Theo Hirsbrunner; Ewald Körner trained him to be a chapel master. After that, he studied composition with Cristobal Halffter and Edison Denisov, in master courses with Wolfgang Rihm and Heinz Holliger. He received various awards, among them the Culture Award of the Bürgi-Willert-Stiftung (2000), Acknowledgment Award of the Canton Berne (2002) and the Music Award of the Canton Berne (2016). He is a lecturer at the University of the Arts, Bern, for composition, theoretical subjects and chamber music. www.christianhenking.ch
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, is Kaspar Zehnder who has been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings are available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” (5 May 2021, 9pm) and will be released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project will also be documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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In his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Christian Henking uses the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven as a basis. In his six variations, he utilises different principles. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Christian Henking respects Ludwig van Beethoven, “this monument, this granite rock in music history”. “He is a master teacher to me again and again, independent of the aesthetics; fantastic what he has formally achieved.” As a consequence, Beethoven’s “Variationen über ein Schweizerlied” (Variations on a Swiss song) irritated him even more, as he explains in a conversation at the end of January 2020. “I really don’t understand them, thought, it wasn’t possible that they were by Beethoven.”

Since the composer from Biel and Berne could not relate to these variations, he...read more