Following the federal COVID-19 ordinances, music usage plummeted depriving authors and publishers of a significant portion of their royalty revenues. SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold
Cancelled concerts, closed shops and cinema theatres, reduced advertising on radio and TV – the consequences of the federal measures against the spread of the coronavirus have a direct impact on rights management revenues: if there is no music usage, there is no royalty income.
SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings:
First and foremost, SUISA has the option, as it has always had, to grant advances to its members. Both authors and publishers can qualify for an advance. The amount of the advance is based on the member’s average revenues in the preceding years. Advances can only be granted to members who have earned more than CHF 500 on average in royalties in recent years. Members may apply for an advance by email. Applications are processed within seven days. The decision is communicated in writing by email. If the applicant satisfies the qualification criteria, the advance will be paid immediately by bank transfer.
Under normal circumstances, advances are offset against the member’s next settlement. This means that the amount advanced is deducted from the distributable amount. As an immediate measure in the exceptional context of the corona pandemic, SUISA’s Board has decided that advances would not be offset before June 2022 at the earliest. The Board and the Executive Committee are keeping a close eye on the crisis situation and, depending on economic developments, may decide to further postpone the offsetting of such advances. In any event, repayment of these advances will not be due before June 2022 at the earliest. (Addendum added on 24.10.2022: Given the delayed impact of the Corona pandemic on membersʼ settlements, the Board has decided to extend the time limit for repaying or offsetting advances against current distributions to the end of June 2023.)
Support payments for members
If an advance is insufficient to alleviate the existential financial hardship suffered by a member as a result of the loss in royalty revenues, the member may apply to SUISA for support payments. SUISA’s Pension Fund makes funds available to authors in the event of an emergency. As a further immediate measure, the Executive Committee has decided to create an additional emergency relief fund from which support payments can be made to authors and publishers alike. The emergency relief fund still has to be ratified by the General Meeting by postal voting. (Addendum added on 27.08.2020: The General Meeting approved the relief fund by a large majority. For more information, see article: “SUISA General Meeting: Emergency fund for authors and publishers approved”.)
In the framework of its rights administration responsibilities, SUISA provides support to members who suffer a loss in their royalty revenues. However, only limited funds are available for support payments. SUISA members who are not already receiving hardship relief from the emergency fund of Suisseculture Sociale or under other cantonal measures may apply for support payments from SUISA.
Applicants must prove their financial hardship. Applications for support payments can be submitted via the members’ portal “My account”. Application documentation will be processed within seven days. Decisions are communicated in writing by email. Payment is made by bank transfer as soon as an application is approved. Support payments do not have to be repaid.
Federal support measures and other aid
The financial support provided by SUISA is designed to help bridge a shortfall in royalty income. SUISA’s support is supplemental – not in lieu of or as an alternative to federal support measures. Information about the measures introduced by the Swiss government to alleviate the economic consequences of the corona pandemic on the cultural sector is available (in German, French and Italian) on the website of the Federal Office of Culture (FOC): www.bak.admin.ch/bak/de/home/themen/coronavirus.html
The Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia also publishes continuously updated information at: www.prohelvetia.ch/en/dossier/info-hub-covid-19/
Go to: www.suisseculture.ch for information about the emergency relief fund for cultural workers, and a link to the application portal. Applications for immediate aid can be submitted through this portal.
Helpful information for musicians is also available on the website of Sonart, the professional association of freelance musicians in Switzerland.
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