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Commercial with music

I want to advertise my products: What steps do I have to take with SUISA?

I want to advertise my products: What steps do I have to take with SUISA?
SUISA is an indispensable interlocutor for the production of commercials.
Photo: Proxima Studio /
Text by Anne-Françoise Emery
The production of advertising involves several areas. If you are producing an audiovisual commercial created and/or disseminated in Switzerland, you have to contact SUISA to obtain a licence to disseminate the commercial. This may raise several issues. The main points are addressed below.

Music is a key factor affecting the reach of a commercial and is vital to the successful marketing of the product concerned. Choosing the music is therefore an important decision. A commercial with music does not have the same impact as a commercial without it – and a well-known title will give the production a different feel than one that is unknown. If you wish to use an existing title, you must first obtain permission from the rightholders. The rights concerned – synchronisation rights – are not normally managed by SUISA, but directly by the rightholders (mostly publishers).

You may also buy production music which is available on specialised websites. Alternatively, you may commission music from a composer especially for your commercial. This is known as commissioned music.

Registering your commercials with SUISA

Whether or not your commercial contains music, you must declare your production to SUISA. SUISA identifies all audiovisual productions and issues licences for music reproduction rights and music uses. You need to have a licence with a SUISA number in order to broadcast your commercial on television, in cinema theatres or on Internet.

SUISA needs the following information to identify your commercial:

  • particulars of the commercial (title, duration);
  • particulars of the music (title, composers, publishers, playing time of the music used in the commercial);
  • planned broadcast/usage schedule on Internet;
  • customer’s particulars.

Once this information is provided, a licence can be issued quickly. You may send us this information quickly and easily using the form available online.

You must declare each commercial even if there are several versions of the same commercial. You may declare several commercials on a single form.

If your commercial was produced abroad but there is an arranged version (post-production) for the Swiss territory, please indicate this on the form.

Different rights concerned

The reproduction rights you pay to SUISA allow you to disseminate the recording of your commercial on television, in cinema theatres or on Internet. The rights are payable once for the entire duration of use of the commercial. You may thus use the commercial several times at different periods, but you only have to pay the reproduction rights once.

The copyrights for the dissemination of the commercial on television or in cinema theatres are paid by the broadcaster or the theatres. You do not therefore pay the broadcasting rights for offline dissemination to SUISA. The situation is different concerning Internet: you are liable for the rights for making-available on Internet (online). The licence fee is graduated depending on the media budget of the advertising campaign. You must report each new wave of the campaign to SUISA.

Analogue commercials, “free domain” works and commissioned compositions

All advertising must be declared, but there are cases where no invoice is payable. The different language versions and short versions are treated like analogue commercials. Accordingly, no reproduction rights are due. However, if these commercials are made available on Internet, you must communicate the media budgets to us, and we will prepare an invoice based on that amount. Commercials without any music, or using non-arranged music in the public domain, or music free of rights are not subject to a fee.

But the designation “free of rights” may only apply to certain uses or may not apply to our territory. You may therefore still receive an invoice although you bought the music on a site claiming that its music is “free of rights”. We must respect the agreements we sign with our partners and collect the agreed fees if one of the rightholders is a member of a collective management organisation. To avoid the impression of paying twice, do not hesitate to make the necessary inquiries of your provider.

Similarly, if you commission someone to create the music for your commercial, the agreement you sign with them will only concern the creative work and the right to use the music (synchronisation right), but not the author’s rights if they are members of a collective management organisation. These are not the same rights.

How much does it cost and where does the money go?

The fees for reproduction rights vary depending on the visibility of the commercial. The minimum (for a single local broadcasting) is CHF 7 per second of music. The same second of music will cost CHF 60 for a national broadcasting. The synchronisation rights are not included. The licence has to be negotiated directly with the rightholder. In the case of production music, synchronisation rights are included with a 50% mark-up on the reproduction rights tariffs. All the rates are listed in our tariff (section 5).

The licence fee for the dissemination of online campaigns is a percentage (2.15%) of the amount paid for placing the advertisement (media budget) with a minimum fee of CHF 200. For further information see our licensing terms and conditions.

The fees collected by SUISA are distributed to the music creators (composer, lyricist, publisher) net of a 15% deduction covering administrative costs.

Our team remains at your disposal for any further information: contact us by email advertising (at) suisa (dot) ch or by phone at +41 21 614 32 28 / 30.

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