Neither the events a company organises for its employees, nor those it organises for its customers qualify as events accessible to the public. It is often assumed, therefore, that these are private events which need not be reported to SUISA since the copyright rules for private use apply.
Not open to the public, but not private either
Music use is only considered private when it takes place within a small circle of people with close ties to each other, like relatives and close friends. This is not generally the case with corporate events. That is why, for copyright purposes, these events do not qualify as private use – a licence (permission) to use music must therefore be obtained from SUISA.
Live bands and DJs for dancing and entertainment
Companies often hire live bands for events like Christmas dinners and cocktail parties to entertain guests while they eat and accompany the dancing afterwards. Or dinner may be followed by a party with a DJ set. The use of music – live or recorded – at these events is regulated by Common Tariff Hb (CT Hb) which covers music uses for dancing and entertainment.
If the event is held in a venue with a capacity of less than 400 people, the flat rate for small events (from CHF 33.30) applies. These flat rates apply as long as any entrance fee charged is less than CHF 17.00. If the capacity of the venue exceeds 400 people, the licence fee is 5% of the music-related costs, i.e. notably, the fees of the performing musicians in the case of live music, or 6.5% in the case of recorded music.
General meetings with musical intermissions
General meetings and product presentations are not entertainment events as such, but music regularly plays an important role in such occasions. Musicians perform live, or music may be played from recordings, at the start, at the end, or during breaks between discussions and presentations. Musical intermissions at such events are also covered by CT Hb – licence fees are calculated in the same way as for the above-described events.
Workshops, seminars, and training courses
Music may also play a role in a completely different type of corporate event, for example when music is used in the framework of a business workshop or in videos during seminar presentations and training courses. Such uses are generally licensed under Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), which applies to background music in particular.
Sometimes the conference hall operator holds a permanent licence under CT 3a and the organiser of the event does not have to do anything. Otherwise, a flat rate based on the relevant surface area applies (from CHF 19.20 per month).
Such events may also involve uses which are not covered by CT 3a. For example, if a feature film is projected, Common Tariff E applies and, in addition, the performance rights must be obtained from the film renter; if live music is played in the framework of the event, CT Hb applies.
Concerts for staff
Certain companies organise private concerts with well-known live acts for their staff. The purpose of a concert is not to provide musical accompaniment for a social gathering or to animate the dance floor – the focus is solely and entirely on the music played by the band.
Concerts are regulated by Common Tariff K (CT K) which, in the case of small concerts (less than 1000 persons), provides for a licence fee of 9% of the music-related costs. In addition to concerts, CT K applies to other performances like stand-up comedy shows or magician’s shows, albeit with lower rates.
Musical events for customers
And finally, there are events which are specially organised for customers: for the opening of a new location, for example, or to celebrate a corporate anniversary. Unless a concert is involved, these events are licensed in accordance with CT Hb. Here too, in the absence of ticket revenues, licence fees are determined based on music-related costs.
CT Hb: www.suisa.ch/hb
CT 3a: www.suisa.ch/3a
CT K: www.suisa.ch/k
A set list with information about the songs, composers and playing duration must always be attached to applications under CT K; for applications under CT HB, a set list is only required in the case of live music.