SUISA and SESAC, a US collective management organisation, have established Mint Digital Services as a joint venture. Mint Digital Services will take over the invoicing and administration services for SESAC and SUISA’s online licensing activities. The joint venture will also offer services to publishers and collective management organisations. Warner/Chappel Music, a major publisher, is already using Mint’s services. Here the main FAQs: By Fabian Niggemeier, Martin Korrodi, Sebastian Spring and Erika Weibel
What is Mint Digital Services?
Mint Digital Services is a joint venture established by SUISA and SESAC, a US music rights organisation. Mint Digital Services offers administration services for multi-territorial online music licensing. Essentially, its services involve processing usage reports for online platforms, identifying represented repertoires, and invoicing.
The purpose of Mint Digital Services is on the one hand to streamline online licensing of SESAC and SUISA’s own repertoires. On the other, the joint venture intends to offer its services to large music publishers and, in due course, to other collective management organisations.
What were the reasons underlying SESAC and SUISA’s decision to establish Mint Digital Services?
There were three main reasons:
- Through Mint Digital Services, SUISA can turn to account its high-performance IT infrastructure for the development of new business areas.
- The joint venture will enable SUISA to fully exploit the capacity of its existing IT infrastructure. So far, SUISA’s extensive investment in its online licensing and distribution activities has only served its own repertoire. With little additional cost, Mint Digital Services can take on the invoicing and administration of SESAC’s repertoire and those of other publishers – at a later date perhaps even for other collective management organisations.
- SUISA is equipping itself for the future. In coming years, collective management organisations will see their monopolies challenged. The rule that only one society should be responsible for licensing the world repertoire in its own country is gradually eroding. The trend towards direct licensing – in other words, multi-territorial licensing of (solely) own repertoire – is progressing even outside the online sector.
Should members apply to Mint for online uses of their works?
No. Nothing will change for SUISA members. SUISA remains the contact for members and will continue to issue their settlement statements. Mint Digital Services simply provides services to SUISA.
Developing a new company costs money. Will members now receive lower settlements owing to higher cost-coverage deductions by SUISA?
No. The greater part of the investment was already made in recent years since SUISA has regularly upgraded its IT – regardless of the joint venture. The cost of developing the new company is therefore relatively low, and the business plan shows that the investment can be fully depreciated in a few years.
Can members expect to receive more money, more quickly for uses in the USA thanks to the partnership with SESAC?
The partnership with SESAC will have no effect on settlement flows from the USA. The joint venture only concerns online uses outside the USA. SUISA will continue to use its best efforts to improve payments from the USA and other countries. However, SUISA has only limited influence on the practice of the foreign sister societies.
Warner is a customer of Mint Digital Services. Does that mean that SUISA will henceforth focus on the majors to the detriment of the needs of its members?
No. Warner is Mint’s customer – not SUISA’s. Moreover, SUISA strives to be as customer-oriented as possible, regardless whether it is dealing with a major, an independent or an author.
Will Mint Digital Services be responsible for licensing the online repertoire?
No. The joint venture will only provide administration and invoicing services. SESAC and SUISA will establish two separate companies in the coming weeks to handle the licensing of their repertoires. Mint SESAC Licensing, a subsidiary of SESAC, and Mint SUISA Licensing, a subsidiary of SUISA. The two companies will be responsible for the separate online licensing of their respective rights, and for the performing rights of most Anglo-American companies.
Can SUISA now negotiate better terms and conditions with online platforms?
We may be able to negotiate better contracts with certain online platforms. But it is up to the platforms themselves to decide whether they want to negotiate with the SUISA and SESAC licensing entities individually or jointly. If they decide in favour of joint negotiations, Mint SUISA Licensing may be able to profit from the larger SESAC repertoire in order to obtain better terms and conditions.
SUISA regularly renegotiates its contracts with online platforms with a view to securing the best possible terms and conditions for authors and publishers; Mint SUISA Licensing will do the same.
Press release: “SUISA and SESAC Launch Mint Digital Services and Join Forces with Warner/Chappell Music as its First Client”
For more information about Mint visit the website of the joint venture: www.mintservices.com
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