Ladies and gentlemen, members and guests,
When we come together in the spirit of celebration, as we have tonight, there is, whether consciously or subconsciously, a desire to look back at where it all began. To look back at the moment when a group of humans believed in an idea, a value and a hope for a better future enough to make it happen.
This is what happened with music copyright in Switzerland in 1923. For us, Mechanlizenz is where it all began.
Similar to the way other European countries created parliaments and democratic systems, authors and artists enjoyed more and more recognition of their rights throughout the 20th century.
All these complex legal structures, these regulations, these lists and declarations of works and, today, this flow of data were for what purpose?
To allow artists and musicians to be free.
Without wanting to put any kind of dampener on this celebration, I think it’s important – and I think it’s my duty – to remind us of this tonight. But it’s not always easy for everyone to understand. At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring that people, ensuring that we, have the freedom to create, and that’s not insignificant.
It is fascinating to see how music, this immaterial art par excellence, since it’s simply waves and intensity, has often been the first of the arts to undergo major changes in the paradigms of modernity.
Before the French Revolution, Mozart and Haydn were already republican in their works. Before television, radio had already begun to play and share musical works during the first major technological revolution of reproduction. Then, as we know, in the 1990s, music had to adapt to the digital revolution before other artistic fields.
We, as musicians, composers, editors, IT engineers and copyright lawyers, came out the other side. Not without difficulty, but with tenacity and success. Today, as these changes accelerate, it is artificial intelligence that will test musical creativity and, once again, music risks being the first to face this challenge.
And so a celebration like tonight, far from being a time when we should fear the future, is a time when we can confidently say: we are strong. We have extraordinary artists in this room tonight, we have guests from the world of politics, we have SUISA clients here, and, above all, and I truly believe this, we have all our SUISA employees and directors, Andreas Wegelin, Irène Philipp and Vincent Salvadé – I can only sing their praises tonight for their incredible dedication and professionalism.
It works because the cause is just and noble.
Behind all that lies a strong conviction that dates back even further than 1923, because it comes from the Age of Enlightenment: ‘The creator-owner is a free creator. To take his property is to take his independence.’ Some among you will have recognised that I am paraphrasing Victor Hugo, when he spoke about writers in 1878. But, in all our decisions, which are often complex, let’s remember the foundations on which we are built, not let anyone become the owner of our works, and fight so that this freedom, which is essential to creativity, can shine, and that tonight it can be joyful, diverse, celebratory, warm and … musical!