A Board Meeting focused on the coronavirus

To comply with coronavirus regulations, SUISA’s Board met for the first time by video conference on 28 and 29 April 2020. Board members were connected by sound and video from their respective home offices. After a short period of accustomation, the meeting proceeded apace without any significant communications problems. Even thorny issues were debated and decided in this way. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

A Board Meeting focused on the coronavirus

Based on our current state of knowledge, we expect a 25% drop in total budgeted revenues owing to event cancellations and business shutdowns in the wake of the restrictions ordered by the public authorities to contain the corona pandemic. (Photo: RomeoLu / Shutterstock.com)

The main items on the Board’s spring agenda are the approval of the annual financial statements, status report and business report and their referral to the General Meeting, as well as the preparation of the agenda for the General Meeting.

SUISA’s 2019 financial statements show highly satisfactory results. Royalty revenues totaled CHF 155.25m, a 3% increase over the prior year. As a result, after deducting costs, CHF 129.34m will be distributed to beneficiaries in Switzerland and abroad in 2020. Moreover, thanks to significant investment income, an additional 7% can be distributed on all settlements.

Written vote instead of a 2020 General Meeting

The Board decided that, by way of exception, the business on the agenda for this year’s General Meeting will be put to a written vote since there is no assurance that the meeting scheduled for 26 June at the Bierhübeli in Bern will effectively be able to take place. The documentation for voting by correspondence will be sent to members at the end of May.

Two by-elections to the Committees are also on General Meeting’s agenda – and will be held this time in writing: the Board proposes Michael Hug to succeed Grégoire Liechti in the Distribution and Works Committee. Melanie Oesch is the designated candidate to succeed the late Reto Parolari as Member of the Board.

Course of business during the corona crisis: the Board establishes a task force

Apart from the usual items on the agenda for the spring meeting, discussions in the Board focused on corona-related threats, or rather, on the consequences of business shutdowns and the ban on events. Meanwhile, it is known that no large concerts will take place until the end of August at least, and that smaller events will only be allowed under stringent health and security measures liable to impact audience size. It is quite conceivable that these restrictions will remain in force for a longer period.

Under the circumstances, we expect SUISA’s budget for revenues from concerts, events and music entertainment in the hospitality industry to be cut by half. This translates into a reduction of 25%, or CHF 38m, in SUISA’s total budgeted revenues. A more accurate forecast cannot yet be made given the lack of visibility until the end of the year. The Board has established a task force to examine, together with the Executive Committee, how the loss in revenue will impact the course of business, and to identify the necessary cost-cutting measures.

Developments in the online licensing market

Another important topic in the context of SUISA’s consolidated annual financial statements was the development of the online licensing market. For three years now, SUISA Digital Licensing has been licensing the rights of SUISA members not only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, but throughout Europe – and even worldwide where the agreements so allow – through Mint Digital Services, SUISA’s joint venture with SESAC, the US rights’ management organisation.

By pooling repertoires, SUISA has become an important provider of services in this field with Mint. The two start-up companies Mint and SUISA Digital Licensing are not yet profitable. The Board has therefore instructed the Executive Committee to prepare and present a detailed evaluation of the break-even prospects, calculated under various scenarios.

The next meetings of the Board, to be held in video conferencing again, are scheduled for 25 May and 25 June 2020.

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Brave new worldBrave 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. Read more
SUISA extends payment deadline for its customersSUISA 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 from 30 to 90 days. For music not used in connection with the official regulations against the spread of the corona pandemic, copyright fees will be dropped. Read more
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  1. Yannick Popesco says:

    Bonjour étant membre de la Suisa et artiste actif je me pose une question importante.

    Y’a-t-il actuellement une lutte en cours pour le statut suisse d’intermittent du spectacle ?
    Quel est le statut légal de l’artiste pour l’instant ?

    Salutations,
    Yannick Popesco (artiste indépendant)

Leave a Reply

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Your email address will not be published.

To comply with coronavirus regulations, SUISA’s Board met for the first time by video conference on 28 and 29 April 2020. Board members were connected by sound and video from their respective home offices. After a short period of accustomation, the meeting proceeded apace without any significant communications problems. Even thorny issues were debated and decided in this way. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

A Board Meeting focused on the coronavirus

Based on our current state of knowledge, we expect a 25% drop in total budgeted revenues owing to event cancellations and business shutdowns in the wake of the restrictions ordered by the public authorities to contain the corona pandemic. (Photo: RomeoLu / Shutterstock.com)

The main items on the Board’s spring agenda are the approval of the annual financial statements, status report and business report and their referral...read more

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

“In this, we are all really challenged as a community”

With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Text by Nina Müller; video by Nik Bärtsch, complemented by Nina Müller

Nik Bärtsch (48) is a successful jazz pianist who lives with his family in Zurich. In addition to music, Zurich-born Bärtsch also studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology. It is therefore not surprising that music has a deeper meaning for him. On his website, he describes his music as follows: “A piece can be entered like a room, inhabited. Through obsessive turning moments, overlays of different meters and micro interplay, the music moves on and changes its states. Attention is drawn to the minimal variations and phrasing. The band thus becomes an integral organism – like an animal, a biotope, an urban space. Youʼre supposed to think with your ears and hands.ˮ

He lives this philosophy with his band Ronin and has already toured in Europe, Asia and the USA. With his formations Nik Bärtschʼs Ronin and Nik Bärtschʼs Mobile as well as solo, the musician has released more than thirteen sound recordings, which are performed at weekly performances as part of his concert series at the Zurich Club Exil. Since 2006, he has his own label “Ronin Rhythm Recordsˮ.

For “Music for Tomorrowˮ Nik Bärtsch performed the piece “Modul 5ˮ. He says with regards to the piece: “The piece consists of a small complex pattern in 6/4, which spreads over the whole piano in the course of the piece. I came across this pattern quite early in my musical development and it has accompanied me constantly over the years. Thus the piece, which was composed at an early age, experiences a constant evolution, as I do myself. We work together so to speak, so that our relationship becomes ever simpler, more direct and yet deeper and more mysterious – just as my wife and I shape our lives together.”

Nik, how does your working day as a composer look like during the corona pandemic?
Nik Bärtsch: I am a completely independent composer, pianist, bandleader, producer and publisher. So, at the moment, the only difference compared to the time before the virus is that I travel much less. All international concerts, productions and workshops have obviously been cancelled. I now have the same daily routine that I have at home between trips: I compose, practice, rehearse, organise and communicate alternately. In addition, I share family life with our children together with my wife, who is also very active in her job.
As usual, it requires a lot of love for life, discipline, structure, but also creativity and the desire for surprises.
Since we want to organise and maintain all this at a high level, it was not a big change for us. Our children are often at home and not in after-school care or anywhere else. We all do martial arts and therefore we also have the possibility to train together on the meadow in front of the house.
Our Monday concert series at the EXIL Club will continue for the time being as pure streaming (www.yourstage.live). So Monday remains the ritualized local concert day and the community and the different teams stay in constant contact.

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
Like all severe crises, it shows me exactly where I stand as an artist and human being and once again unconditionally demands my creativity, integrity and resilience.
But as a freelance musician this is often the normal state of affairs anyway. But the big question is: How do groups, ensembles, bands and concert venues survive the current change in the medium term? In this we are all really challenged as a community. The questions that do arise are actually rather useful: What does music mean to me as a professional? What does it mean to all of us? How do we pay for music and the services behind it? How do we sensibly link the value-appraisal chain with the value-creation chain?

How can the audience support you at the moment?
By rewarding my performance and ours: So by watching our paid streams and by consuming and distributing our music on all other media as well. And by learning exactly how music production and presentation works: How many people and their achievements are behind it, when a wonderful song helps me through the day.

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed more of your music?
The number of streams must be very high for this kind of payment to work. It still helps, though. Everything is connected and the more independent artists are heard and shared, the better. The local, authentic and special art and initiative ultimately feeds the global commercial development. We have noticed this everywhere on our tours around the world.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
I always try to deduce the positive in every situation and learn something. The current situation is once again fundamentally testing our prosperity, our security and thus our working methods. This is valuable. Only when we realise how vital music, its inspiring environment and its wonderful possibilities are, can we appreciate the professional handling of it. SUISA and, for example, the Association of Swiss Musicians communicate this very well. Every musician should do this just as passionately and professionally.

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
Be honest in your approach to music: Nobody simply takes home a loaf of bread at the bakery without paying.
So enjoy the music with the awareness that people have worked on it with love and unconditional devotion.
I recently received an email from an emergency doctor in Australia. He thanked me for the music. He tackles every challenge of the last few years – the floods, the bush fire and now the virus – by listening to one of my tracks in the morning and drinking a coffee with it. Then he would know why he was doing all this and would also be able to bear death, pain and danger. The music gives him strength to rescue, save and help people. I understood then that it is better to focus unconditionally on the music than to help out a little everywhere. In this case, the chain of inspiration works with precision: We both concentrate on the essentials. His integrity, talent and professionalism help me and vice versa. So we both help others again. Societal appreciation and value creation can only work together.

www.nikbaertsch.com

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
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With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Text by Nina Müller; video by Nik Bärtsch, complemented by Nina Müller

Nik Bärtsch (48) is a successful jazz pianist who lives with his family in Zurich. In addition to music, Zurich-born Bärtsch also studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology. It is therefore not surprising that music has a deeper meaning for him....read more

“This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test”

With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Text by Nina Müller; video by Kety Fusco, edited by Nina Müller

Kety Fusco (27) plays electric harp and composes her own songs. She began playing the harp as early as at the age of six. But the classical harp became too boring for her at some point and so she discovered the electronic harp for herself. Kety Fusco is also part of the collective “Peter Kernel and their wicked orchestra” by the duo Barbara Lehnhoff (Camilla Sparksss) and Aris Bassetti, who are also members of SUISA. In 2018, Kety Fusco was allowed to perform in the presence of Federal Councillor Alain Berset at the Locarno Film Festival. On 8 May their debut album “Dazed” will be released on the Sugar Music label. Kety Fusco is based in Arbedo (TI) and has been a member of SUISA since 2018.

For the project “Music for tomorrow”, Kety Fusco performed the previously unreleased song “Saceba”. She says this about the song: “ʻSacebaʼ was born in a former cement factory at the bottom of Switzerland’s southernmost valley. I was in this place, enchanting and sombre at the same time, to breathe life into a dance and music performance.

On the first day already, when I entered the main building, I gradually became aware that a treasure of sound was hidden there. The next day I went back with various objects (stones, tools, instruments) and my recording equipment to record the entire Saceba (that was the name of the factory) from the first floor to the top floor: the rubbing of the concrete and the sound of the big echoes of this wonderful industrial archaeology.

Once home, I downloaded all the sounds to my computer and built the piece by mentally retracing my steps and imagining a story that took place within the walls of the factory. Then I added real music with my harp and considered it the soundtrack I would have liked to hear when I first entered the Saceba: the soundtrack of the cement factory.”

Kety Fusco, how does your working day as a composer/lyricist look like during the corona pandemic?
Kety Fusco: I play classical harp for four hours every day, working two hours on the technique of the instrument and the other two hours playing pieces I want to record. I play for about two more hours or so with my electric harp and prepare my new live set.

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
I never keep up with the world because everything happens too fast for me. When I am not on tour, I like to stay at home, take a lot of time to play, study and devote myself to my harps. My debut album “Dazed” will be released on 8 May on Sugar Music and I’m working on my new live set. I am very inspired when nothing happens around me and I live everything in my head. The virus has not changed the way I do things – it has improved the way I am. When I walk around in the street and don’t hear the noise of the cars, I feel good. Knowing that nobody is outside my home and living the daily life but experiencing a “daily surprise” inspires me to imagine stories in my head. I think that everyone will forget what we’ve been through. It must have been like a bad dream for some and a difficult memory for others.

How can the audience support you at the moment?
I would really like the audience to hear my debut album and thus contribute to the streaming music market on which part of my income depends.

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed more of your music?
Yes, absolutely. With the crisis, streams fell by 33%, and the entire music industry was hit hard.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
In my opinion there is nothing positive for musicians, even if I think about creativity: For me, it doesn’t necessarily come when I quit, like Covid-19 … in fact, I usually feel more creative when I don’t have time for it. This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test. The music market has never been fully understood, and I think there are very few people who understand what it means to have lost a whole year’s worth of concerts.

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
I want all my fans to know that I want to hug them all.

www.ketyfusco.com

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
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With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Text by Nina Müller; video by Kety Fusco, edited by Nina Müller

Kety Fusco (27) plays electric harp and composes her own songs. She began playing the harp as early as at the age of six. But the classical harp became too boring for her at some point and so she discovered the electronic harp for herself. Kety Fusco is...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.

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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

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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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Your email address will not be published.

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

Helvetiarockt: SUISA supports the voice of female musicians in Switzerland | plus video

Women are still underrepresented in music, on stage and as producers. For this reason, the association Helvetiarockt has been standing up for women in Pop, Jazz and Rock in Switzerland. Since 2019, SUISA is a partner to and supports Helvetiarockt and participated in the “Female* Songwriting Camp” at the Fri-Son, Fribourg, last August. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Sibylle Roth

The share of female SUISA members is a little more than 15 percent today. Even though there is a slightly rising tendency – the share of women among new members was at 20 respectively 21 percent – compared to the population share of women which is more than 50 percent, women are still underrepresented in the Swiss music business. That is actually surprising because there is no reason why professions in the music sector should just be a man’s thing.

In order to counteract this imbalance and to ensure that the female musicians are heard, the association Helvetiarockt was founded in 2009. Helvetiarockt has been supporting female musicians for ten years to set foot into the music business and to network successfully. To that end, the association organises a wide range of workshops for (future) female artists, producers and composers. It also offers networking opportunities for female musicians and provides important educational work in order to promote the equality in the music business. Helvetiarockt raises awareness among event organisers and therefore places female artists, female DJs and bands to festivals, clubs and corporate events.

SUISA, a partner of Helvetiarockt

SUISA has been a partner of Helvetiarockt since 2019 and supports the association within the scope of a sponsoring commitment in terms of finance and visibility. As a Cooperative Society for female composers, lyricists and publishers of music, the focus of this cooperation for SUISA lies especially with the “Female* Songwriting Camps”. This year, Helvetiarockt and SUISA also cooperate at the Cully Jazz Festival (27 March to 4 April 2020).

Helvetiarockt has been organising the “Female* Songwriting Camps” since 2015; in the meantime, they take place twice a year, in August, at the Kulturzentrum Galvanik in Zug and in the Fri-Son in Fribourg. During the five-day camps, experienced female songwriters support female participants in group workshops, individual coaching sessions and for the self-study of composing, writing lyrics and arranging. What is more important than finished songs being the outcome at the end is that the female participants can extend their songwriting abilities and build up a network with other female musicians.

Up to now, 42 female musicians visited the “Female* Songwriting Camps” of Helvetiarockt, many of whom, such as Kimbo, Sasa or Anna Mae are now very active. “We were able to ‘empower’ a few female songwriters, and that is a beautiful thing”, says Muriel Rhyner, who is in charge for projects such as the “Female* Songwriting Camps” and the “Female* Producing Circles” at Helvetiarockt. It was her, who called the Songwriting Camps to life five years ago and has been running them since – together with Élodie Romain aka Billie Bird since 2019.

SUISA was present at the “Female* Songwriting Camp” in the Fri-Son and accompanied the coaches as well as the eight participants during the two days. The Songwriting Camp was well received among the female musicians. “At the juncture I was at, it was really important to me that I could meet other people who do the same as me, and that there were professionals who could provide advice or take a look at what I was doing at that time”, says Ines Martenet. Another participant, Emelyne Pannatier, came to the camp with specific questions surrounding the recording process of songs since “she mainly had problems with the structure of a few songs”.

Two “Female* Songwriting Camps” planned in August 2020

Helvetiarockt has also scheduled two “Female* Songwriting Camps” for 2020: from 3 to 7 August in the Kulturzentrum Galvanik in Zug and from 17 to 21 August in the Fri-Son in Fribourg. You can register via the Helvetiarockt website: www.helvetiarockt.ch/songwritingcamp

Just as Ines Martenet said in the video: “You just have to come by!”

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Women are still underrepresented in music, on stage and as producers. For this reason, the association Helvetiarockt has been standing up for women in Pop, Jazz and Rock in Switzerland. Since 2019, SUISA is a partner to and supports Helvetiarockt and participated in the “Female* Songwriting Camp” at the Fri-Son, Fribourg, last August. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Sibylle Roth

The share of female SUISA members is a little more than 15 percent today. Even though there is a slightly rising tendency – the share of women among new members was at 20 respectively 21 percent – compared to the population share of women which is more than 50 percent, women are still underrepresented in the Swiss music business. That is actually surprising because there is no reason why professions in...read more