SUISA General Meeting: Emergency fund for authors and publishers approved

SUISAʼs General Meeting approved the emergency fund for composers, lyricists and publishers of music in the amount of CHF 1.5 million. In addition, Swiss yodeller, singer, composer and publisher Melanie Oesch was elected to the SUISA Board. For the first time in SUISAʼs history, the General Meeting was held in written form due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; interview with Melanie Oesch by Erika Weibel; video by Nina Müller

SUISAʼs General Meeting should have been held this year on 26 June at the Bierhübeli in Bern. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ban on events imposed in March, the SUISA Board decided in April to hold the General Meeting in written form. For the first time in the Cooperativeʼs history, SUISA members were able to vote and elect by post and, in the case of some members from abroad, by e-mail.

Covid-19: Emergency fund for authors and publishers

In addition to statutory business such as approving the annual accounts or granting the discharge to the SUISA Board and the auditing firm BDO, the emergency fund for authors and publishers was one of the most important items on the agenda of this yearʼs General Meeting. In view of the current precarious situation for music professionals, the SUISA Board decided on 6 April 2020 that SUISA should make additional funds available to cover losses in copyright royalties incurred by SUISA members due to the cancellation of events and closure of businesses ordered by the authorities. The fund of CHF 1.5 million is intended to compensate composers, lyricists and publishers of music who find themselves in distress as a result of the corona crisis for proven loss of SUISA-related income. The General Meetingapproved the relief fund by a large majority.

Michael Hug elected to the Distribution and Works Commission

In addition, two by-elections were held at this yearʼs General Assembly. To replace Grégoire Liechti, who was elected to the SUISA Executive Committee last year, music publisher Michael Hug was elected to the Distribution and Works Commission (VWK) for the current term of office until 2023.

Michael Hug is Managing Director of the Ruh Musik AG publishing house, founded in 1910. The publishing house is nationally and internationally renowned for the publication of wind music; the catalogue also includes numerous works of classical and choral music. Michael Hug and his wife took over the company from his father in 2009. He recognised the signs of the times early on and digitised his entire catalogue. In 2012, the foundation for music promotion of SUISA, the FONDATION SUISA, awarded him a prize for his digital distribution platform for sheet music; at the time, the jury particularly emphasised his innovative spirit and sustainable concept. Michael Hug is 55 years old and – like all his predecessors in the publishing house – is also musically active himself.

Melanie Oesch new on the SUISA Board of Directors

A by-election was also necessary for SUISAʼsBoard of Directors, following the unexpected death of Reto Parolari, conductor, composer and long-standing member of theBoard, in December 2019. The Swiss yodeller, singer, composer and publisher Melanie Oesch (Oeschʼs die Dritten) was newly elected to SUISAʼs Boardfor the current term of office until 2023.

Melanie Oesch is, as part of Oeschʼs die Dritten, one of the most successful representatives of traditional folklore music. Melanie Oesch is 33 years old and has been a member of SUISA since 2006.

In a video interview, she tells us what SUISA means to her: “SUISAʼs work is very important to me. I would never have the time to claim the money I am entitled to everywhere myself and I also lack the knowledge about it.” She particularly appreciates SUISAʼs expertise: “I am glad SUISA has so many professionals who have been working on this issue for years and who are committed to it”, says Melanie Oesch.

Melanie Oesch was very pleased and honoured by the question whether she would like to become a member of the Board. She would like to bring her experience as a folk musician to the Board: “In folk music there are many pieces which are very old. It is often not clear whether the composers are still alive and where [the pieces] are published.” The type of pieces in folk music is also special. “For example, a yodel doesnʼt have a classical text, and yet it has a kind of text,” explains the Bernese-born artist.

As a member of the Board, Melanie Oesch would like to change something about the disagreements between organisers and artists. According to her assessment, certain organisers feel disadvantaged because they are small and have the feeling of having to pay a lot anyway. She would like to improve mediation between SUISA and the organisers.

Altogether 1576 composers, text authors, music publishers and heirs participated in the written voting and electing process. An overview of the results of the SUISA General Meeting 2020 can be found at www.suisa.ch/generalmeeting

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