No General Assembly 2020 – but voting by correspondence instead

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the General Assembly cannot take place in its usual form. However, members with voting rights may still have a say in the destiny of their SUISA Cooperative by casting their votes by letter. Text by Andreas Wegelin

No General Assembly 2020 – but voting by correspondence instead

By way of exception, SUISAʼs 2020 General Assembly (GA) will be held by letter: To participate in the vote, members entitled to vote shall return their completed voting form by post, which must reach SUISA by 26 June 2020. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

This yearʼs General Assembly, the annual highlight of social life at the SUISA Cooperative, should have taken place on Friday, 26 June 2020, at 11 a.m. at the Bierhübeli in Bern. However, this is not possible because of the corona pandemic, even if it is not yet known exactly when the ban on assembly will be relaxed for which size of events. In any case, the organisation of a general meeting requires a preparation time of about two months.

The Board therefore decided on 29 April 2020 that this yearʼs General Assembly can only be held by correspondence by way of exception. This decision is in conformity with the Federal Council guidelines in the Covid-19 Ordinance 2. In the sense of emergency law, the latter exceptionally permits running an GA in such a way, although the process of forming an opinion will be restricted due to the fact that there will be no “live” discussion at the GA.

1. Organisational execution

From 27 May 2020, all members with voting rights will receive an invitation by mail to participate in the postal vote on the resolutions of the General Assembly. The members entitled to vote have the opportunity to return the completed personalised voting form as soon as they receive the invitation. The letter with the voting form must reach SUISA by 26 June 2020.

The results of the votes are then counted by the election office headed by Dr. Bernhard Wittweiler (head of SUISAʼs Legal Department).

On 30 June 2020, the results of the vote and election will be formally established by the President, the Secretary (who will be in charge of the minutes), the CEO and the Head of the Legal Department on the basis of the count and published on the SUISA website on the same day.

The submitted voting documents are confidential and will be kept until the end of the period of appeal (two months after the resolution is passed, 31 August 2020) and then destroyed.

2. Agenda of the vote by correspondence instead of the 2020 GA

In addition to the usual statutory business – acceptance of the minutes, resolutions on the annual accounts, the management report and the annual report of the SUISA Cooperative and the SUISA Group – two seats on committees must also be filled.

2.1 By-election for the Board
Our long-standing board member Reto Parolari passed away suddenly and completely unexpectedly on 15 December 2019. The Board proposes to elect Melanie Oesch as successor to the Board.

Melanie Oesch grew up near Thun in the canton of Bern and attended the music high school in Thun. She appeared on stage for the first time at the age of five and inspired the audience with her unique tongue twisting. With her many ideas and plans, Melanie is, in many areas, the creative mind at Oeschʼs die Dritten.

Oesch’s die Dritten are a Swiss folk music group from the Bernese Oberland, consisting of Hansueli and Annemarie Oesch, their children Melanie, Kevin and Mike and accordionist Urs Meier. Their breakthrough in the German-speaking world came in 2007: Oeschʼs die Dritten won the young talent competition of the “Musikantenstadl” and since then have been a regular guest in various folk music programmes on television and at major folk music events. In October 2008, they won with the Ku-Ku yodel in the SRF-1 programme “The greatest Swiss hits”. Melanie Oesch revolutionises a certain form of yodelling and contributes to the spread of folk music through her musical activity. Among other things, she was an exceptional yodeler in Stefan Raabʼs “TV total”. Then there was the duet with Helene Fischer, in their Christmas show 2016, which convinced fans and non-fans alike. As an author, she has published two childrensʼ books together with the illustrator Christina Wald.

Melanie Oesch has been a member of SUISA as an author since 2006. The Oesch Music Verlag, which she heads, is also a member of SUISA. She is also a member of the “Phono Performers” expert committee at Swissperform.

2.2 By-election for the Distribution and Works Committee
At the last General Assembly, Grégoire Liechti was elected to SUISA’s Board of Directors. He therefore resigned from the Distribution and Works Committee. The Board proposes Michael Hug from the publishing category as replacement. He is the Managing Director of Ruh Musik AG and leads the family business, founded in 1910, in the 4th generation. Ruh Musik is nationally and internationally known for the publication of brass music; the catalogue also includes numerous works of classical and choral music. Ruh Musik is a sub-publisher for several renowned brass music publishers and has also expanded its catalogue in recent years to include publishers such as Edition Cron Lucerne and Belgano.

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, he was awarded by the FONDATION SUISA as a publisher for his digital distribution platform for sheet music; the jury particularly praised 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.

Even in times of crisis, shaping SUISAʼs future is important. For once, those members who would otherwise be prevented from attending the General Assembly may also participate in the written voting process. We hope that many will participate. Information on the General Assembly as well as documents and records can be found at: www.suisa.ch/en/members/general-assembly.html

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the General Assembly cannot take place in its usual form. However, members with voting rights may still have a say in the destiny of their SUISA Cooperative by casting their votes by letter. Text by Andreas Wegelin

No General Assembly 2020 – but voting by correspondence instead

By way of exception, SUISAʼs 2020 General Assembly (GA) will be held by letter: To participate in the vote, members entitled to vote shall return their completed voting form by post, which must reach SUISA by 26 June 2020. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

This yearʼs General Assembly, the annual highlight of social life at the SUISA Cooperative, should have taken place on Friday, 26 June 2020, at 11 a.m. at the Bierhübeli in Bern. However, this is not possible because of the corona pandemic, even if it is not yet known...read more

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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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

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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  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

Outlooks and insights

In its meetings on 10 and 11 December 2019, the Board focussed on the budget for 2020 and SUISA’s strategy for the next five years. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

Advertising revenues have shifted from the TV towards the online sector. This shift has led to a negative impact on copyright collections. (Photo: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com)

The budget for the year 2020 had already been discussed in advance on 27 November 2019 at the meeting of the Executive Committee for Finance and Controlling. The Committee and the Board had to establish that the investment and staff requirements remain high. This is due to the fact that SUISA has taken on new tasks.

In the case of the new task fields which entail a higher demand for staff, it is particularly the collection of remuneration for background music and the reception of broadcasts in offices outside the domestic and private circle or home life that are affected. Said collections had been linked to the BILLAG collection of the fees for the reception of commercial broadcasts. Since 2019, SUISA has been carrying out this type of collection directly. Another sector where investments into additional staff resources need to be made is the IT sector. This is because self-service options for customers and members on the SUISA web platform “my account” are due for major enhancements. Expanding activities in terms of global licensing of online music distribution via the subsidiary, SUISA Digital Licensing AG and the Joint Venture for services with SESAC also require more staff.

Budget approved, future discussed

On the income side, the shift of the advertising revenue in the TV sector towards the online sector are noticeable. Revenues from broadcasting rights are stagnating while online usage does not increase proportionally. The Board has therefore approved a budget for 2020 which has a slightly worse cost/income ratio. Executive Management has also been asked to plan measures for 2021 to lower the cost/income ratio again.

The strategic alignment of the company has been discussed further on the basis of a re-defined strategy paper from the October meeting. Strategic focal points for the next years are described by keywords such as services, income/cost ratio, competition and innovation. To this end, the Board determined a roadmap for 2020 in its December meeting.

On top of that, the Board listened to updates on the personal changes at executive level of subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing AG and Mint Digital Services, the Joint Venture with SESAC and discussed further development steps in the category of licensing of music in online services that is no longer limited per territory.

Distribution rules and by-elections

The Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the entire Board subsequently decided on two changes to the distribution rules, namely an adaptation of the weighting of music in the case of sales broadcasts in advertising windows of foreign TV channels and the dissolution of distribution category 4A. These decisions are subject to the approval by the IGE (IPI), our supervisory authority. Furthermore, the Board determined the cost deductions for the distributions in 2020. They are to remain the same as in 2019.

After the election of Grégoire Liechti into the SUISA Board by the General Meeting in 2019, a seat in the Distribution and Works Committee has become available and needs to be filled. We are looking for a music publisher. The Board is going to propose Michael Hug, owner of the publishing house Ruh Musik AG, at its General Meeting in 2020.

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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In its meetings on 10 and 11 December 2019, the Board focussed on the budget for 2020 and SUISA’s strategy for the next five years. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

Advertising revenues have shifted from the TV towards the online sector. This shift has led to a negative impact on copyright collections. (Photo: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com)

The budget for the year 2020 had already been discussed in advance on 27 November 2019 at the meeting of the Executive Committee for Finance and Controlling. The Committee and the Board had to establish that the investment and staff requirements remain high. This is due to the fact that SUISA has taken on new tasks.

In the case of the new task fields which entail a higher demand for staff, it is particularly...read more

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. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The last differences between the National Council and the Council of States were eliminated on 16 September 2019 and the bill was adopted in a final vote at the end of the autumn parliamentary session. A long process has thus come to an end, with a satisfactory outcome for music authors and publishers.

A compromise and intense debates

A short look back: in 2012, Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga created the working group AGUR12 which was instructed to prepare proposals for the revision of the Federal Copyright Act. Representing all stakeholders (authors, users of works, consumers, etc.), AGUR12 made a series of proposals, embodied in a compromise solution at the end of 2013. Unfortunately, the bill submitted by the Federal Council in 2015 deviated from this compromise solution.

In the face of the heavy criticism expressed during the consultation procedure, the Federal Council reversed its position and submitted a new bill to Parliament at the end of 2017, this time based entirely on the AGUR12 compromise. After intense debate, both Houses finally decided to espouse the compromise, even if that meant deferring consideration of a number of new issues (such as the protection of press publishers and journalists).

SUISA actively involved in the revision

SUISA accompanied the legislative process throughout the entire seven years. Firstly, by participating actively in the work of AGUR12 as part of the Suisseculture delegation. And then, by informing Members of Parliament during committee hearings, and through letters, position papers and argumentation.

With what outcome? Overall, copyright protection has been increased and modernised thanks to new anti-piracy measures and improvements in rights management in particular. No doubt one could have gone further on certain points. But a compromise is a compromise …

Finish one revision, start the next

It would be wrong to lower our guard. The “Pirate Party” has now launched a referendum against the revised Copyright Act. Moreover, the last question debated in Parliament was whether hotels which offer their guests the means to watch television, play films and listen to music in their rooms should be exempted from their obligations towards authors. The National Council eventually shelved this idea, but the debate shows that creators’ vested rights are regularly subject to attack. We must ensure we avoid … a re-revision of the revision of the law to the detriment of authors and publishers! Everything is an eternal recurrence …

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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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. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The...read more

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

More than 100,000 companies in Switzerland use music, TV and films for background entertainment purposes. For these usages, the companies pay a fee based on Common Tariff 3a to authors, publishers, performers or producers. How and to whom are these revenues paid? Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

Considered by many to be part of the pub atmosphere just like teak furniture or dartboards: premier league games on the telly. Producers of the broadcasts have the right to receive a remuneration for usages outside domestic and private circles or home life. (Photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com)

Just like lighting or decoration, suitable background music is an important contributing factor to make customers and guests feel good in a shop, hairdresser or restaurant. Plus, live transmissions of a football or cricket match are equally part of the interior décor of a pub, just like dark furniture, wooden shields and the dartboard.

Similar to the obligation to pay makers of the furniture, the decoration or the lighting, composers, lyricists, performers, scriptwriters or producers are entitled by law to receive a remuneration for the use of their works and performances outside the private circle. The five Swiss collective management organisations Pro Litteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform are responsible for this task. SUISA collects the remuneration for the use of music, films and TV broadcasts pursuant to the Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a) on their behalves.

What does SUISA do with the collected money from background entertainment?

The first step is that the collected money is split among the five Swiss collective management organisations based on a fixed distribution key. The SUISA share for the coverage of music contents is slightly more than half of the income. Each society is then responsible in a second step to pay out these collected fees to authors and artists, publishers and producers.

In the case of SUISA, 88% of the above-mentioned fifty percent is distributed to the rightsholders. This means that of the CHF 100 that were collected, CHF 88 are paid out to creators and their publishers.

How and to whom are these revenues paid? SUISA usually knows three different possibilities of distribution: direct distribution, blanket distribution with programme material and blanket distribution without programme material (see box). Programme material consists of lists with the works which were performed or broadcast.

In the case of the CT 3a, the money is nearly exclusively paid by way of a lump-sum without programme material. Submitting and processing the work lists in this category would be linked to an enormous effort for customers and SUISA alike, and they would be in no proportion to the actual benefit. Instead, SUISA uses the programme material already available from various sources to allocate the collections made on the basis of the CT 3a. SUISA ensures during this process that lists and/or usages are considered for this allocation, enabling that the remuneration is distributed as fairly as possible.

A distribution which is as fair as possible – even without a list of the performed works

Based on empirical data there are cases where it is assumed that a major part of the companies, shops, restaurants etc. uses works which are also broadcast on the radio, resp. TV. Accordingly, a major part of the income from CT 3a is allocated on the basis of the programme material for the use of music, TV broadcasts and films from radio and TV transmissions. SUISA also takes into account that not just pop, rock or urban is played but also other genres such as traditional or folk music and even church music. A part of the collections is thus also distributed on the basis of programme lists for church performances, brass music or yodelling clubs.

In order to distribute the money to the creators and artists, it is thus allocated to other similar distribution categories for performing and broadcasting rights (see distribution rules, Art. 5.5.2).
Should a member receive a payment from one of these distribution categories, it also receives a share from the income for background music entertainment from CT 3a.

In some exceptional cases in background entertainment, there is a direct accounting process for the distribution of collected fees. This happens, for example, for music which is used in a museum for an exhibition, or music which is used in a company’s phone loop for a longer period. In such cases, the music in question is usually commissioned.

SUISA distributes four times a year. In 2018, more than CHF 132m were paid out to composers, lyricists and publishers of music.

Types of distribution and distribution categories

SUISA distributes the collections from authors’ rights in three different ways:

  1. In a direct accounting scenario, copyright remuneration can be allocated directly across the available lists of works that have been performed. This is also possible for concerts, for example: If songs of five co-authors are performed during a concert, these five rightsholders receive the fees collected for this concert.
  2. In the case of a blanket distribution with programme material, copyright remuneration is calculated on the basis of a point value. For SRG broadcasts, for example, SUISA receives a lump-sum payment on the one hand and detailed broadcast reports on the other hand. The broadcast reports include details on how many seconds of music have been transmitted in total, plus the exact duration of each work. A point value per second is determined based on these details and the remuneration is paid to authors and publishers of the played works.
  3. A blanket distribution without programme material takes place when it comes to collections based on tariffs where there is no information provided on the works that have actually been used, or if that information cannot be established. The distribution of such income is made on the basis of available programme material from several sources. The exact allocation of the money is specified in the SUISA distribution rules in detail.

The collected revenue is distributed on the basis of distribution categories. The latter correspond to various usages, e.g. music in concerts, on radio and TV channels of the SRG, or private broadcasters, in churches etc.

Details can be found in the SUISA distribution rules.

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More than 100,000 companies in Switzerland use music, TV and films for background entertainment purposes. For these usages, the companies pay a fee based on Common Tariff 3a to authors, publishers, performers or producers. How and to whom are these revenues paid? Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

Considered by many to be part of the pub atmosphere just like teak furniture or dartboards: premier league games on the telly. Producers of the broadcasts have the right to receive a remuneration for usages outside domestic and private circles or home life. (Photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com)

Just like lighting or decoration, suitable background music is an important contributing factor to make customers and guests feel good in a shop, hairdresser or restaurant. Plus, live transmissions of a football or cricket match are equally part of the...read more

Two new faces for the Board meeting in autumn

At the General Meeting in June 2019, two new members were elected into the SUISA Board. At the first meeting after the elections in the course of the autumn meetings, the Board has reconstituted itself and dealt with cost unit accounting and business strategy. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Two new faces for the Board meeting in autumn

The newly elected Board members Sylvie Reinhard (left) and Grégoire Liechti. (Photos: Simon Tanner; Sibylle Roth)

In early October, the first meetings of the newly elected Board took place. In June 2019, the General Meeting elected Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti to replace the Board members Bertrand Liechti and Marco Zanotta who had stepped down due to the limitation of the term in office. The Board reconstituted itself during its first meeting after the elections. Marco Neeser was elected to be the new Vice President and the three Board Committees were newly appointed.

Cost unit accounting and business strategy

During its autumn meeting, the Board also dealt with the cost unit accounting for 2018 and the business strategy, just like every year. The cost unit accounting shows in detail how high the expenses for each individual usage sector or tariff in the past financial year were. It serves the purpose of identifying particularly cost intensive areas and to introduce the respective measures to improve the situation. In this context, the Executive Committee presented the processes for the licensing of concerts (Tariff K) and sound recordings (Tariff PI) in more detail.

Regarding the business strategy, the Board deliberated on the increasing competition of the collective management organisations and the huge repertoires, represented by the big publishing companies, but also the growing tendency of known authors to collect their authors´ rights directly for their performances – without the “detour” via the collective management organisations. It is expected that competition will grow.

SUISA can, compared to the collective management organisations in Germany or France, not count on its own repertoire when it comes to international fame. As a consequence, SUISA has to offer the most important services at high quality levels and at an attractive price in order to persist in the market.

Other meeting topics

Other items discussed during the meetings were the current tariff negotiations and the distribution results. SUISA´s sponsoring activities in 2020 were also a subject of the meeting in order to consider the respective amounts in time into the budget for 2020.

The Board has, finally, had some thoughts on the 100th Birthday of SUISA which will be celebrated in 2023. A little less far away, it also determined the meeting diary for 2020.

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At the General Meeting in June 2019, two new members were elected into the SUISA Board. At the first meeting after the elections in the course of the autumn meetings, the Board has reconstituted itself and dealt with cost unit accounting and business strategy. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Two new faces for the Board meeting in autumn

The newly elected Board members Sylvie Reinhard (left) and Grégoire Liechti. (Photos: Simon Tanner; Sibylle Roth)

In early October, the first meetings of the newly elected Board took place. In June 2019, the General Meeting elected Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti to replace the Board members Bertrand Liechti and Marco Zanotta who had stepped down due to the limitation of the term in office. The Board reconstituted itself during its first meeting after the elections. Marco Neeser was elected to be the...read more

Wanted: New member for the Distribution and Works Committee

How are collections distributed to authors and publishers? Who receives how much and from which usages of their works? Such questions are the focal points of the specification of duties of SUISA’s Distribution and Works Committee. In this governing body, suggestions are worked out which influence the allocation of the collections. Are you interested in co-determining the business and to sit on the committee? If that’s the case, we look forward to your application by 30 November 2019. Text by Regula Greuter

Wanted: New member for the Distribution and Works Committee

The members of the SUISA Distribution and Works Committee are elected by the General Assembly. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

Due to the stepping down of a member of the Distribution and Works Committee (DWC), a new member needs to be elected during SUISA’s next General Assembly at the Bierhübeli in Berne on 26 June 2020.

So that the weighting of the various categories is safeguarded, the interested candidate should come from the publishers’ ranks.

Are you interested in co-determining SUISA’s future? Would you like to have the opportunity to directly influence the business activities of SUISA and to help steer the business? If that’s the case, please apply for this vacant position!

Candidates’ requirements

If you are a SUISA member with an active and passing voting right, you fulfil one of the requirements for a candidacy. You should understand the future impact of decisions taken today and not only represent your own interests but also those of other authors and publishers. The DWC meetings take place twice a year, in Berne, which means that you need to cater for one day per meeting (including travel to and from the venue and a joint lunch). The preparation time for such meetings includes the thorough study of the meeting documents which are made available electronically.

Who or what is the Distribution and Works Committee?

The DWC is a committee of the SUISA General Assembly and consists of 22 members who represent all music genres, regions and languages of Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. Composers, music publishers and lyricists sit on the committee. Finally, a balanced age and gender mix is also paramount.

You can see a list of the current committee members on the SUISA website.

Duties of the DWC

The Distribution and Works Committee is dealing primarily with questions on the distribution which is governed by the distribution rules. It performs the following duties:

  • Checks the provisions of the Distribution Rules and their implications on distribution proceeds;
  • Proposes amendments to the Distribution Rules to the Board;
  • As a first instance, handles appeals against Executive Committee decisions on the classification of broadcasting programmes, copyrightability of works and arrangement of non-protected works;
  • Evaluates in an advisory capacity unauthorised adaptations of protected works and cases of plagiarism.

Are you interested in a candidacy? If that’s the case, we look forward to your application by 30 November 2019.

SUISA, Mercedes Molina, Bellariastrasse 82, CH-8038 Zürich
E-mail: mercedes.molina (at) suisa (dot) ch

If you need any further information, please contact Ms Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO: 044 485 68 00

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How are collections distributed to authors and publishers? Who receives how much and from which usages of their works? Such questions are the focal points of the specification of duties of SUISA’s Distribution and Works Committee. In this governing body, suggestions are worked out which influence the allocation of the collections. Are you interested in co-determining the business and to sit on the committee? If that’s the case, we look forward to your application by 30 November 2019. Text by Regula Greuter

Wanted: New member for the Distribution and Works Committee

The members of the SUISA Distribution and Works Committee are elected by the General Assembly. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

Due to the stepping down of a member of the Distribution and Works Committee (DWC), a new member needs to be elected during SUISA’s next General Assembly at the Bierhübeli in Berne on...read more

A look back at the SUISA General Meeting 2019

Around 150 voting SUISA members attended the annual General Meeting on 21 June 2019 at the Kongresszentrum in Biel to help determine the direction of their cooperative. Among their decisions was the election of Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti to the Board of Directors. SUISA members also passed a resolution for fair conditions for music creators in connection with the revision to the copyright law. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

A look back at the SUISA General Meeting 2019

SUISA members during voting for the Board of Directors for the period 2019-2023 at SUISA’s 2019 General Meeting, 21 June 2019, in the Concert Hall of the Kongresszentrum, Biel. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

‘Spherical, but more angular than trip hop, more emotionally charged than pop music and as organic as folk’ – that’s how SUISA Vice President Marco Zanotta described Zurich musician Annakin, who opened SUISA’s General Meeting. Together with guitarist Simon Rupp, Philipp Kuhn on keyboards and beatboxer Marzel (alias Marcel Zysset), Annakin – otherwise known as Ann Kathrin Lüthi – played songs from her latest album The End of Eternity, as well as ‘Sting Of Love’ from her 2014 album Stand Your Ground.

While the stage was being rearranged after the brief concert, the assembled SUISA members, guests and SUISA employees were able to watch a video that explained how ‘She Got Me’, the Swiss entry to the Eurovision Song Contest sung by Luca Hänni, came about. The song was written in June 2018 at the SUISA Songwriting Camp by SUISA member Luca Hänni with Canadian songwriters Laurell Barker and Frazer Mac and Swedish producer Jon Hällgren. ‘She Got Me’ reached an outstanding fourth place at the Eurovision grand final, has been streamed more than 30 million times and topped the Swiss single charts.

More women in music

In his welcoming address, SUISA President Xavier Dayer took the occasion of the Swiss women’s strike, which had taken place a week before, as impetus to discuss the proportion of women in music. Women currently represent 16% of SUISA members – leaving plenty of room for improvement. This is one of the reasons that SUISA entered into a partnership with Helvetiarockt in 2019, and invited the coordination and networking centre for jazz, pop and rock musicians to bring an information stand to the general meeting.

Members then approved the Annual Report and Management Report. Also approved were SUISA’s first-ever consolidated accounts, reflecting contributions from the two subsidiaries SUISA Digital Licensing AG and Mint Digital Services in 2018. The general meeting also discharged the Board of Directors, the management team and statutory auditor, and confirmed the mandate for the auditor BDO for 2019.

Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti elected to the SUISA Board of Directors

For long-serving Board members Bertrand Liechti and Marco Zanotta, this was their last General Meeting – they are retiring from the SUISA Board after 20 years due to the term limit. In their place, SUISA members elected Sylvie Reinhard, an entrepreneur and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the digital magazine ‘Republic’, and Geneva-based music publisher Grégoire Liechti to the Board of Directors. The other 12 Board members, along with the members of the Distribution and Works Committee, were confirmed in office with no objections. At the recommendation of the SUISA Board, the general meeting also elected Marco Zanotta to the ComplaintsCommittee, which was established in 2018.

With the revision in 2018 of SUISA’s Articles of Association and the associated extended responsibilities of the General Meeting, the assembled members voted for the first time on compensation regulations for members of the Board and its committees, and on SUISA’s general investment policy.

Resolution calling for fair copyright legislation

Guest speaker Géraldine Savary, federal councillor and member of the SUISA Board, talked about the ongoing revision of Switzerland’s copyright legislation. In particular, she touched on two points that are critical for music creators. First – if the National Council has its way – hoteliers, owners of holiday homes, hospitals and prisons would not be required to pay copyright fees if their guests, patients or inmates listen to music or watch films on the radio/television devices provided. Second, the new copyright law stipulates a compensation regulation for video on demand (VoD) services that would work in favour of film-makers but would be counter-productive for music creators, as they have already negotiated contractual solutions with the VoD platforms. Accordingly, the use of music must be excluded from this new VoD regulation. The General Meeting passed a resolution in order to draw National Council attention to the importance of these two points in its forthcoming autumn session.

This was followed by updates on the current financial year from Vincent Salvadé, Irène Philipp Ziebold and Andreas Wegelin. Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA, then reported on how SUISA’s music promotion foundation had performed in the financial year.

At about 2 pm, Xavier Dayer brought the General Meeting to a close and gave notice of the next General Meeting, which will take place on Friday, 26 June 2020 at the Bierhübeli in Bern.

Afterwards, participants enjoyed a light lunch in the foyer of the Kongresszentrum, an opportunity for SUISA employees, guests and colleagues to talk, sign resolutions, find out about Helvetiarockt projects at the organisation’s stand or even initiate new projects.

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Around 150 voting SUISA members attended the annual General Meeting on 21 June 2019 at the Kongresszentrum in Biel to help determine the direction of their cooperative. Among their decisions was the election of Sylvie Reinhard and Grégoire Liechti to the Board of Directors. SUISA members also passed a resolution for fair conditions for music creators in connection with the revision to the copyright law. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

A look back at the SUISA General Meeting 2019

SUISA members during voting for the Board of Directors for the period 2019-2023 at SUISA’s 2019 General Meeting, 21 June 2019, in the Concert Hall of the Kongresszentrum, Biel. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

‘Spherical, but more angular than trip hop, more emotionally charged than pop music and as organic as folk’ – that’s how SUISA Vice President Marco Zanotta described Zurich musician Annakin, who opened...read more

Summer meeting of the SUISA Board

As in previous years, the summer meeting of the SUISA Board took place on the day before the General Assembly, on Thursday, 20 June 2019, in Biel. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Summer meeting of the SUISA Board

The SUISA Board held its summer meeting the day before the General Assembly that took place at the Biel/Bienne Congress Centre, as shown in the image. (Photo: Natalie Schlumpf)

In addition to the usual final preparations for the General Assembly, the SUISA Board also noted the comprehensive report by the statutory auditors for the 2018 financial year. In general, the audit gave the management team a good report. However, it also suggested some improvements. The management team has now been tasked by the Board with actioning the proposed improvements.

The prospects for the Mint joint venture, which completed its second year of operation at the end of March 2019, was another important topic for discussion at the board meeting. The Board decided that, as the parent company of Mint, the SUISA cooperative shall provisionally waive the assertion of any claims for work and IT services provided in support of the joint venture company Mint, in the same way as the American partner SESAC.

The Board also addressed the issue of whether SUISA could offer services abroad in the future, in the event that the local collecting society is not working satisfactorily. It will decide in greater detail based on specific cases.

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The Board was once again able to note pleasing distribution results. In June 2019, beneficiaries in Switzerland and abroad received CHF 43.7 million.

Finally, the Board approved changes to the distribution rules and several adjustments to the General terms and conditions of the rights administration agreement, made necessary by the Liechtenstein collecting society regulation and the EU directive on collecting societies. The updated General terms and conditions for rights administration will be supplied to all members shortly. The changes to the distribution rules will be presented via the SUISA publishing channels once they have been approved by the regulatory authority.

After the meetings, the Board members met with heads of department and managers for an evening meal, providing the opportunity for discussion and for getting to know some new senior managers.

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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As in previous years, the summer meeting of the SUISA Board took place on the day before the General Assembly, on Thursday, 20 June 2019, in Biel. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Summer meeting of the SUISA Board

The SUISA Board held its summer meeting the day before the General Assembly that took place at the Biel/Bienne Congress Centre, as shown in the image. (Photo: Natalie Schlumpf)

In addition to the usual final preparations for the General Assembly, the SUISA Board also noted the comprehensive report by the statutory auditors for the 2018 financial year. In general, the audit gave the management team a good report. However, it also suggested some improvements. The management team has now been tasked by the Board with actioning the proposed improvements.

The prospects for the Mint joint venture, which completed its second...read more