Author Archives: Manu Leuenberger

Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our band in July 1974 in the Kursaal Bern – Georges Pilloud was the initiator.

At the end of May 1978, I contacted you at Radio Studio Bern, “Do you need an archive staff member?ˮ “No! A producer is urgently needed, come to Bern, details will be discussed later.ˮ The first meeting with you took place in the radio play studio. You at the Steinway Concert Grand piano. “Do you know Cantaloupe Island?ˮ I asked, you played it right away. Perhaps this was the prelude to our long-standing relationship.

Monday, July 3, 1978 was my first day of work at the radio studio in Bern. No sign of Willy. I was on my own, because your workplace was at the Montreux Jazz Festival – together with Ruedi Kaspar. For several years you were the “Radio dream teamˮ in Montreux – unforgotten are your multilingual interviews with world-class musicians. At that time, I did not know that you had made a brilliant coup years earlier by acquiring the broadcasting rights for all live broadcasts on Radio DRS2.

The following 2 months were a crash course in “how Radio DRS worksˮ: Departmental structures, reading and interpreting minutes of meetings, as well as ways of speaking and sensitivities of media workers. Whenever the “regularˮ working hours were exceeded, these extra lessons were moved to the garden of a nearby pub.

Your plan was to manage the programme area of entertainment music at DRS1. Together with Ruedi Kaspar you invented “5 after 4ˮ, the first radio show with pop and rock music. Polo Hofer was a discovery by the two of you, and your presence on this show was the cornerstone of Poloʼs career and of dialect rock.

Your specifications for a balanced DRS1 music programme were easy for me to meet. Like you, I was not afraid of any kind of music: in our opinion, it had to be well played and sound good. There were numerous records of almost every genre, and all the music editors maintained extensive archives of their own. I didnʼt know at that time that you had established a free sampling service through your excellent relationships with the record industry approximately 5 years earlier – a classic win-win situation. Without this coup de main, your ideas of a successful DRS1 radio music programme would have failed – simply because the desired music repertoire would not have been available.

Your appointment as “Chief of Entertainment Music Radio DRS1ˮ occurred in 1978. In the following year, your new place of work was Studio Zurich, Ruedi Kaspar “dislocatedˮ to Studio Basel. The fact that this was the prelude to DRS3 was unknown to me. However, inside the radio it was suspected that a 3rd radio programme could be in the planning phase. In autumn 1982, I followed your call to move to Studio Zurich to build up the “Zurichˮ part of the music editorial department. With the success of Radio 24 (start of broadcasting 28.11.1979), Radio DRS increased the implementation speed.

On 1 November 1983, SRG General Director Leo Schürmann symbolically pressed the start button: DRS3 broadcast for the first time.

The following 5 years were the most successful years of DRS3, despite some major differences of opinion between the three editorial offices in Basel, Bern, and Zurich. As “Head of the Music Departmentˮ, you mastered these difficulties with great expertise, caution and gentle pressure.

In 1988, he moved from DRS3 to DRS2. It is possible that recurring discussions of principle on the subject of “musicˮ as well as overflowing meetings and bureaucracy left their mark. It may also be that your love of jazz and music-making as a member of the DRS3 management team had been neglected. The takeover of the “jazzˮ department was the prelude to the establishment of the CH jazz scene, which became a valuable platform with studio sessions for young talent and lesser known formations. For Radio DRS2, this was an important undertaking, which also established the station as an institution for the promotion of culture.

1991 was the birth year of “Apéroˮ, the radio show on DRS2, which you conceived. On the occasion of an annual studio party in Studio 2 in Zurich, you played a Duke Ellington Medley on the concert grand piano, which made everyone present – radio director Andreas Blum was also present – realise that you were a brilliant pianist.

I have always been a big Hazy Osterwald fan. My idea was to re-produce the jazz repertoire of the Osterwald Sextet with an identical formation consisting of you and former DRS band musicians. Together we discovered more than 70 recordings of Hazyʼs best formation from 1951-1964 in the Zurich radio archive. Jazz of the highest level in excellent recording quality, produced by Radio Beromünster in the studio in Basel with Eddie Brunner as sound engineer – former member and later band leader of the famous Teddy Stauffer Band. With your help, a significant document of Swiss jazz from the years 1951-1964 was produced in 1994, the CD box set “50 Years of Music with a Touch of Swingˮ was a great success.

Our intention to realise a production with the post-produced “Hazy Osterwald Jazz Hitsˮ was not executed after careful consideration: Sound, charm, groove of this epoch were too unique and could not be reproduced … A wise decision and a reference to the great recording technique of Radio Beromünster and the producing of Eddie.

In November of the same year the “Berner Song Daysˮ took place in the “Bierhübeliˮ. Your formation, the Willy Bischof Jazztet with Hazy Osterwald, Willy Schmid, Peter Schmidlin and Stefan Kurmann, founded in 1993, was invited as guest of honour. Radio DRS1 recorded the concert. The subsequent CD “Swiss Airˮ is still available today.

In 1998 you were awarded the long overdue “Prix Waloˮ for the radio show “Apéroˮ.

Willy Bischof warming up in the studio. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

In 2004, I had the idea to produce a recording with you as a solo pianist. The planned location was Studio Mulinetti in Genoa. Versions of Italian classics such as Roma Nun Faʼ Stupido Stasera or Estaté were up for discussion. No persuasion was needed on my part – you were immediately enthusiastic about the project. We assembled the repertoire together. Victor Eugster from “Activ Recordsˮ financed the project. The production date was the end of September 2004. However, shortly before the recording date you changed your mind: “I would rather record French chansons in my own versions – a CD title is already available – ʻA Pianist In Parisʼˮ … Suitable chansons were quickly evaluated. I travelled to Camogli – 30 km east of Genoa – at that time my second home to prepare the production.

The session was successful – all participants got along very well and you played superbly as always. I remember that this was perhaps one of your lucky musical moments.

Your retirement in 2005 encouraged me to retire a year later as well. In the following years, our meetings became rarer – I learned through the grapevine that your health had become unstable. Our last personal contact was on the occasion of a concert I organised with your trio on 21 January 2011 at the Hotel Palace Lucerne.

What remains is the memory of an extraordinary person and gifted musician. You didnʼt strike me as a superior. You were a friend.

Addio Willy

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The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our...read more

SUISA extends payment deadline for its customers

From April 2020 and until further notice, SUISA will grant an extension of the payment period on invoices issued. For music not used in connection with the official regulations against the spread of the corona pandemic, copyright fees will be dropped. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

SUISA extends payment deadline for its customers

The corona virus is currently posing major challenges for the whole of Switzerland – many of SUISA’s customers are affected by the financial consequences, as are the musicians whose rights SUISA manages. (Photo: Federal Office of Public Health)

The drastic measures taken to contain the Sars CoV-2 virus have brought about drastic changes in the social and economic environment in Switzerland within a very short time. Cultural life in the country has almost come to a standstill. Many of SUISA’s customers, especially event organisers and commercial enterprises, are suffering from the financial consequences of the lockdown. SUISA members are also severely affected by the sudden loss of basic income: Copyright royalties are one of the few steady sources of income for composers, lyricists and publishers whose rights SUISA manages.

SUISA is a link in the chain of companies affected by the crisis: Especially now, it is of existential interest for music creators that the payment of copyright royalties is preserved. In this context, SUISA is maintaining its service of permitting public use of music and is adapting some of its modalities to exceptional circumstances for the benefit of licensees.

Extension of the payment deadlines

For invoices issued from April 2020, the payment period for SUISA’s customers will be increased. The extended term of payment is recorded as a date on the invoices. This accommodation in the terms of payment is granted automatically and will be valid until further notice.

Discount for music usages that did not take place

Due to official regulations, various uses of music are and have been impossible. Be it banned events, closed shops or events in hospitality businesses that could inevitably not take place: Copyright fees for usages that have demonstrably not taken place shall not be payable.

In order to be able to deduct the discount correctly according to each individual case, various procedures will be applied for administrative and technical reasons:

Dance and entertainment in the hospitality industry

Customers who obtain a licence for dance and entertainment in the hotel and restaurant industry according to the Common Tariff H (CT H) can partially benefit from an automatic and deduction of the discount. For all cases where an automatic reduction is not possible due to the data available, we will dispatch the annual invoices in the regular scope. If the invoiced amount is too high due to cancelled events, we will revoke the invoices and reduce them to the actual amount of use according to the feedback from the customers.

Background entertainment

For licensees of the Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a) for background entertainment, the dates of business closures can vary considerably from one company to another.

We kindly ask you to notify us of the respective business closure dates by using our electronic form:

  • For your notification, please use the form located at www.suisa.ch/3a
  • Please note that reimbursements can only be made if no employees were on the business premises and if there were no occurrences of music use in telephone loops or in business vehicles.

Once we have verified the details you submitted, we are going to credit the relevant amounts in line with Common Tariff 3a for full calendar months where no background entertainment took place. For businesses which were open again on 27 April and would not fulfil these requirements, SUISA is offering a reduction of one calendar month as a gesture of goodwill.

Customers of other tariffs

Licensees of other tariffs who receive periodic invoices for long-term contracts must report any music use that has not taken place to the competent SUISA administration department, whose contact details appear on the invoices. Thus, in the context of a final settlement, the compensation can be adjusted to the actual use made.

SUISA remains available to answer questions or concerns of all customers by telephone from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Further information:
www.suisa.ch/3a
www.suisa.ch

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From April 2020 and until further notice, SUISA will grant an extension of the payment period on invoices issued. For music not used in connection with the official regulations against the spread of the corona pandemic, copyright fees will be dropped. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

SUISA extends payment deadline for its customers

The corona virus is currently posing major challenges for the whole of Switzerland – many of SUISA’s customers are affected by the financial consequences, as are the musicians whose rights SUISA manages. (Photo: Federal Office of Public Health)

The drastic measures taken to contain the Sars CoV-2 virus have brought about drastic changes in the social and economic environment in Switzerland within a very short time. Cultural life in the country has almost come to a standstill. Many of SUISA’s customers, especially event organisers and commercial enterprises,...read more

The revised copyright law has come into force

The coronavirus pandemic has naturally eclipsed this event. Yet the amended Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020 after the Pirate Party failed its attempt to launch a popular referendum. Text by Vincent Salvadé

The revised copyright law has come into force

The updated Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

This concluded the efforts of ten years’ work. The revision was initiated in 2010 when State Concillor Geraldine Savary, who subsequently joined SUISA’s Board, filed a postulate titled “Does Switzerland need a law against unlawful downloading of music?”

How will the new law affect SUISA’s activity? The following points are noteworthy:

The law introduces new anti-piracy measures:
Under certain conditions, hosting platforms are henceforth obliged to durably prevent unlawful content from being remade available through the use of their services (stay down obligation, Article 39d CopA); moreover, rightholders may process personal data insofar as this is essential for the purpose of criminal prosecution (Article 77i CopA).

Certain measures are designed to improve collective rights management:
Users must provide the collective rights management organisations with the necessary information in an electronic form allowing for automatic data processing (Article 51(1) CopA); collective rights management organisations are entitled to exchange the information provided by users with one another (Article 51(1bis) CopA); accelerated procedure for tariff appeals before the Federal Administrative Court (Article 74(2) CopA); and the Federal Arbitration Commission responsible for approving tariffs is now entitled to hear witnesses (see new Article 14(1)(h) of the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).

Lastly, the notion of an “extended collective licence” has been introduced into Swiss law (Article 43a CopA):
Collecting societies can now grant a blanket authorisation for certain uses, even for rightholders they do not represent contractually; this enhances the legal certainty for users and secures additional remuneration for rightholders. This option applies to uses which cannot be individually controlled by rightholders; collecting societies would act as an “insurance” (of a sort) for users. This is a welcome innovation (already applied in Scandinavian countries) which underscores the role of “facilitator” often played by collective rights management organisations.

SUISA accompanied the entire legislative process. Not all these innovations are spectacular. But we believe that, globally, they will facilitate the performance of our mission in the service of rightholders.

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  1. Eva David says:

    Merci aux mandataires de Suisa dont le travail patient et tenace a permis d’aboutir à cette solution satisfaisante.

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.

The coronavirus pandemic has naturally eclipsed this event. Yet the amended Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020 after the Pirate Party failed its attempt to launch a popular referendum. Text by Vincent Salvadé

The revised copyright law has come into force

The updated Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

This concluded the efforts of ten years’ work. The revision was initiated in 2010 when State Concillor Geraldine Savary, who subsequently joined SUISA’s Board, filed a postulate titled “Does Switzerland need a law against unlawful downloading of music?”

How will the new law affect SUISA’s activity? The following points are noteworthy:

The law introduces new anti-piracy measures:
Under certain conditions, hosting platforms are henceforth obliged to durably prevent unlawful content from being remade available through the use of their services (stay down obligation, Article...read more

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

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

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

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

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

Joint licence for copyright and neighbouring rights

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

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

Audion GmbH – a rights agency

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

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

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

Joint collection: Background music and videos on websites

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

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

Outlook: Large enterprises

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

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Common Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus videoCommon Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus video With regards to Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), SUISA has been managing all customers directly again since 01 January 2019. In order to do so, data of about 100,000 customers which received their 3a invoices via Billag in the past years, has been migrated into the SUISA systems. A new team of 16 staff is responsible for all customers of this tariff and provides customer service in four languages. In the meantime, more than 58,000 invoices have left the building – time to take a first provisional look back. Read more
Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!Switzerland finally has a new copyright law! On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. Read more
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  1. Liebe Frau Ziebold

    Ich bin einerseits Mitglied der SUISA und froh, dass diese meine Interessen als Urheber wahrnimmt. Andrerseits bin ich auch eine 1-Mann-Firma, allein in einem Büro. Alles, was ich über GT 3a lese, erscheint mir plausibel, trifft aber auf mein Unternehmen nicht zu. Ich hasse Hintergrundmusik, weil sie mich beim Arbeiten stört, und selbst wenn ich ein Radio während der Arbeit laufen liesse, wäre ich der einzige, der es hört. Von einer gewerblichen Nutzung, die ja wenigsten ein Ohrenpaar eines Mitarbeiters oder eines Kunden voraussetzt, bin ich also weit entfernt. Ich verfüge auch nicht über ein Geschäftsauto, das – wie ich mir von einer SUISA Mitarbeiterin habe sagen lassen – auch als Büroraum zählen würde. Sie meinte dann auch, dass ich wohl nicht zahlungspflichtig sei.

    Der zuständige Sachbearbeiter sieht das aber ganz anders und meint, ich müsse einfach zahlen. Er glaubt nicht, dass er das näher begründen müsste und weigert sich auch, mir die rechtlichen Grundlagen zuzustellen. Er bezeichnet aber die GT 3a-FAQs auf Ihrer Website als nicht verbindlich, die meiner Meinung nach deutlich machen, dass ich nicht unter die GT 3a Zahlungspflicht falle. Also, wenn ich einem Kunden eine Rechnung schicke, muss ich das immer begründen können. Ich habe nun eine Betreibungsandrohung ihres Inkasso-Büros im Haus, nachdem eine Rechnung und 1 Mahnung nicht beantwortet wurden, die gar nie bei mir eigetroffen sind. Aber das ist eine andere Geschichte.

    Meine Frage an Sie lautet nun: Hat ihr Mitarbeiter recht? Muss einfach jede Firma GT3a zahlen? Wenn ja, warum gibt man sich dann so Mühe mit der Spezifizierung der Fälle, wenn es gar keine Ausnahmen gibt? Gibt es für diese Null-Ausnahme-Regelung eine rechtliche Grundlage, die Sie mir anstelle Ihres Mitarbeiters zustellen können? Sind Ihre Mitarbeitenden angehalten, nach dem Versand 1 Rechnung und 1 (nicht eingeschriebenen) Mahnung Ihr Inkasso-Büro in Gang zu setzen mit entsprechenden Mehrgebühren? Warum erhalten nicht einfach alle Firmen eine Rechnung?

    Ihre Meinung dazu interessiert mich sehr.

    Mit freundlichen Grüssen

    M. Gabriel

    • Manu Leuenberger says:

      Lieber Herr Gabriel
      Wir danken Ihnen für Ihre konstruktive Rückmeldung. Ihr Anliegen ist uns wichtig und wir werden die spezifische Sachlage hinsichtlich Ihrer 1-Mann-Firma und der erfolgten Kommunikation inklusive der vorhandenen Informationen dazu intern betrachten. Gerne setzen wir uns mit Ihnen in Kürze noch persönlich in Verbindung, um weitere konkrete Falldetails von Ihnen zu erfahren und mit Ihnen zu besprechen.
      Bis dahin wünschen wir Ihnen alles Gute.
      Freundliche Grüsse, Manu Leuenberger / SUISA Kommunikation

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.

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

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

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

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. Rolf Hug says:

    Very interesting. Also to mention that the big publishing companies don’t play by the code of conduct and
    can get away with anything.

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

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

Brave new world

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

Brave new world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brave new world

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

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

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

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

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

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

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

Transfer of the artist’s rights

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

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

Obligations of the producer

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

Royalties

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

Comparison with the publishing agreement

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

Transfer of the author’s rights

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

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

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

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

Obligations of the publisher

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

Royalties

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

In a nutshell

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

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

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Too many ideas and not enough time”

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

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

Simple, naive language for universal topics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Répondez-Moi”...read more

Outlooks and insights

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

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

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

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

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

Budget approved, future discussed

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

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

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

Distribution rules and by-elections

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

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

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

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

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

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

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

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

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

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

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

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

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

Support and sensitisation

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

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

Create awareness

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

Protected environment

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

Role model function

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

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

Development and outlook

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

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

The main objective of the association

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

Further information: www.helvetiarockt.ch

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

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

    • Elia Meier says:

      Guten Tag Jean-Pierre E. Reinle

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

      Freundliche Grüsse Elia Meier, Helvetiarockt

Leave a Reply

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

Your email address will not be published.

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

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

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

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

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