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General Meeting 2021: National Councillor Johanna Gapany elected to the SUISA Board of Directors

For the second time running, the SUISA General Meeting took place in writing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Altogether 1,486 composers, lyricists, music publishers and heirs participated in the voting process by letter and e-mail. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

General Meeting 2021: National Councillor Johanna Gapany elected to the SUISA Board of Directors

The SUISA General Meeting elected National Councillor Johanna Gapany (pictured), FDP Fribourg, as a new Board member. (Photo: Luan Bardi)

Due to the current Covid-19 situation, SUISA had to renounce on a physical General Meeting this year, just like it had to in 2020. Instead, the General Meeting was held again in written form. SUISA members could vote by letter or e-mail again this year.

As usual, SUISA members decided on the statutory business of their Cooperative Society and the SUISA Group. They approved, among others, the annual financial account and exonerated the SUISA Board and auditing firm, BDO.

National Councillor Johanna Gapany new in the SUISA Board of Directors

The General Meeting elected National Councillor, Johanna Gapany, FDP Fribourg, to the Board of Directors to replace Géraldine Savary who had stepped down; her term of office is until 2023.

Johanna Gapany grew up in Gruyère and began her political career early on. Among other activities, she held the Presidency of the Jungfreisinnigen (Young Liberals) of the Canton Fribourg and also held the position of Vice President of the Jungfreisinnigen Switzerland. In 2019, Johanna Gapany was elected as the first woman from the Canton Fribourg into the National Council. She is Vice President of the Finance Committees member of the Science, Education and Culture Committees (WBK/SECC), the Social Security and Health Committees (SGK/SSHC) and the delegation at the inter-parliamentarian Union.

In her video message to the General Meeting, she mentioned that the reason for her candidacy for the SUISA Board was that “music has a special value, for me personally and for our culture and our country.” SUISA gained a committed politician to the Board with Johanna Gapany who intends to support the issues of music creators. In the video, she directed her message to musicians as follows: “I would like to support you so that your work is recognised. The career of a music creator should not be regarded as a whim, a child’s dream or a calling but as a real profession.”

Gapany succeeds former National Councillor Géraldine Savary (SP, VD), who had been a strong supporter of the interests of music creators over the ten years as a SUISA Board member. Savary’s postulate entitled “Does Switzerland need a law against illegal music downloads?” was the trigger for a copyright reform in 2010, and that the Swiss Copyright Act was adapted to the digital age.

Géraldine Savary now intends to dedicate her entire time to her new role as editor-in-chief of the French-speaking women’s magazine “Femina” and therefore decided to leave the SUISA Board.

SUISA’s investment rules now also take sustainability into consideration

Another item on the agenda was the general investment rules of SUISA. The SUISA Board of Directors moved to the General Meeting that the additional criterion “sustainability” should be added to the existing criteria “security” and “liquidity”. The sustainable investments are categorised in line with the ESG criteria: Environment, Social and Governance. These criteria will be taken into account for each new decision on investments.

Altogether 1,486 composers, lyricists, music publishers and heirs participated in the written voting and electing process. An overview of the results of the SUISA General Meeting 2021 can be found at www.suisa.ch/en/members/general-assembly.html

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For the second time running, the SUISA General Meeting took place in writing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Altogether 1,486 composers, lyricists, music publishers and heirs participated in the voting process by letter and e-mail. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

General Meeting 2021: National Councillor Johanna Gapany elected to the SUISA Board of Directors

The SUISA General Meeting elected National Councillor Johanna Gapany (pictured), FDP Fribourg, as a new Board member. (Photo: Luan Bardi)

Due to the current Covid-19 situation, SUISA had to renounce on a physical General Meeting this year, just like it had to in 2020. Instead, the General Meeting was held again in written form. SUISA members could vote by letter or e-mail again this year.

As usual, SUISA members decided on the statutory business of their Cooperative Society and the SUISA Group. They approved, among others, the annual financial account and exonerated the SUISA Board...read more

SUISA continues to be a reliable partner, even in difficult times

Dear members, we have been stuck with the corona crisis for 15 months and have been trying, as best as we can, to be a reliable partner for you when it comes to managing your copyright, despite of corona. It is now the second time round that we must hold our General Meeting by circular procedure. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

SUISA continues to be a reliable partner, even in difficult times

SUISA continues to be a guiding light and a reliable partner in these dark times. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Executive Committee, Board of Directors and staff regret very much that there won’t be a physical General Meeting in 2021 again. The General Meeting is the highlight of the yearly cycle of your company. Only a direct encounter with you shows us whether we are on the right track and whether our services cover your needs, or what we might actually have to improve yet.

We also would have liked to discuss in more detail and in person how the financial situation of your Cooperative Society has been developing in these difficult times, now that concerts have no longer taken place and no licensing fees have been collected for them anymore.

The 2020 annual results have been reasonably acceptable (-12%). For the current year’s results, we hope that there will be a relaxation of the event bans and an opening of restaurants so that the losses remain within 10% compared to 2020.

Impact of the event bans only visible after a delay

You are probably also going to feel this decline of SUISA’s collections in the settlements. Lost licence fees for cancelled live events will only result in lower amounts in the settlements which we pay out in the course of 2021 from the 2020 collections. With the 2021 settlements it thus becomes evident with a delay how the corona measures decreed by the authorities affect the pay-out of copyright remuneration.

The same applies for measures which has led to another shutdown in the context of the second wave of the pandemic from 21 December 2020. This will impact on settlements way into the year 2022.

Corona emergency fund for SUISA members

The 2020 General Meeting had decided that an emergency fund should be created for members that have a lower SUISA income due to the corona crisis. This fund continues to exist. SUISA offers its members further possibilities to bridge financial shortages: It is also possible to get advances for future settlements. Finally, there is the option that creators who get into financial hardship situations can get a support payment from the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers.

Expansion of online services

SUISA is therefore also your point of contact throughout the crisis. We try to be there for you, subject to keeping to a strict expenses discipline when it comes to staff costs.

This is possible, among other things, because of an increased digitisation of the business transactions between you and SUISA. Since mid-May 2021, our “business intelligence” tool, the Royalty Report, has been activated for all rightsholders. It is therefore high time that you get an online access to your SUISA account and that you benefit from the digital services as soon as possible. That way, we can continue to increase transparency and expand our services for our members despite the pandemic.

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Dear members, we have been stuck with the corona crisis for 15 months and have been trying, as best as we can, to be a reliable partner for you when it comes to managing your copyright, despite of corona. It is now the second time round that we must hold our General Meeting by circular procedure. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

SUISA continues to be a reliable partner, even in difficult times

SUISA continues to be a guiding light and a reliable partner in these dark times. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Executive Committee, Board of Directors and staff regret very much that there won’t be a physical General Meeting in 2021 again. The General Meeting is the highlight of the yearly cycle of your company. Only a direct encounter with you shows us whether we are on the right track and whether our services cover your...read more

A worthy result despite Covid

2020 was an annus horribilis for many music creators. Concerts and other events were by and large prohibited. Most organisers, artists and authors thus lost a large part of their income. Thanks to the good performance in other areas and to its prompt action, SUISA managed to contain the financial damage for many entitled parties. Text by Andreas Wegelin

A worthy result despite COVID

Concerts were hardly possible from February 2020 onwards. However, thanks to an increase in the online sector, SUISA’s annual result turned out relatively good. (Photo: Oleksii Synelnykov / Shutterstock)

After being hit by the Covid pandemic, the world went into a state of shock. The pandemic impacted – and continues to impact – large segments of the economy. The cultural sector, and music creators as part of it, were hit especially hard. “First to close, last to open”. Creators and organisers were the first to be affected by the shutdowns and restrictions, and they will be the last able to fully resume their work.

Needless to say, the difficult situation for the cultural sector also affected SUISA’s annual results. After all, in the past, performance rights, i.e. revenues from concerts and other performances, music usage in businesses and restaurants, and music for parties, accounted for 35% of SUISA’s rights administration revenues. After nearly all events were prohibited in March 2020, it was clear that SUISA’s revenues – especially from performance rights – would fall short of the prior year’s. It was hard to predict, however, how steep the downturn would be, and whether revenues from other rights would also be adversely affected.

The steep downturn in revenues from performance rights was partially compensated by other rights revenues

As it fortunately turned out, SUISA’s turnover was less severely impacted than had been feared. Last year, SUISA recorded total revenues, domestic and international, of CHF 138.5m: this is 12% less than the prior year (CHF 155.2m). As expected, the shortfall in performance rights accounted for greater part of the downturn: while in 2019, revenues from performance rights had attained CHF 51.2m, in 2020 they only reached CHF 34.4m, i.e. 34% less.

SUISA managed to make up for this shortfall in other areas. Revenues from broadcasting rights increased slightly – from CHF 63.6m in 2019 to CHF 64.3m in 2020. Downturns that had been feared, for example in advertising revenues from TV and radio broadcasts following the cancellation of many large events, failed to materialise.

Positive trend in online business thanks to SUISA Digital Licensing and Mint

The trend in revenues from online uses was extremely positive: online revenues climbed from CHF 8.8m in 2019 to CHF 11.4m last year. This was especially thanks to the growth in revenues realised by SUISA’s subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing. The latter succeeded in acquiring a number of new customers including foreign sister societies and music publishers, and also managed to negotiate improved contract terms with online providers of streaming and downloading platforms.

This satisfactory development in the online area is all to the benefit of the authors and publishers whose works are increasingly streamed on the various platforms. Even Mint, the joint venture with the US society SESAC, continued its expansion last year as a provider of services to various music publishers and foreign sister societies.

SUISA has responded to the crisis

The fact that, from the outset of the pandemic, SUISA responded promptly – with a view to cutting costs on the one hand, and to distributing as much as possible to authors and publishers on the other – also contributed to the relatively good year.

Projects that were not urgent were deferred or even cancelled and, wherever possible, staff departures were not replaced. Certain expenditures, such as sponsoring contributions and travel expenses, disappeared anyway because of the pandemic. And SUISA did everything possible to invoice all and every use of music – including those pertaining to prior years – and collect the revenues. At a time when nearly all performances have been barred, the royalties from SUISA are more important than ever for many music creators.

Supplemental distributions from released settlement liabilities

In 2021, SUISA was again able to allocate a supplemental distribution of 7% on all settlement amounts from the released provisions for settlement liabilities which could not be distributed after five years in absence of the necessary information on the entitled parties.

Understanding for customers

Its efforts to collect the greatest amount in revenues does not mean, however, that SUISA is blind to the circumstances of its customers. On the contrary: precisely in the case of the inns and restaurants which were severely affected by the shutdowns ordered by the authorities, SUISA demonstrated goodwill with regard to invoice payments, granting extended payment terms for example, and permitted refunds to customers who had made down payments but had no music usage in the period. Ultimately, it is in the interest of SUISA and its members to ensure that businesses, organisers, and other music users survive and continue to use music. After all, there will be a time after the Covid-pandemic, and SUISA must do its utmost to ensure that, in that future, it can continue to distribute the largest possible amount in royalties to the authors and publishers of music.

SUISA’s detailed 2020 results can be found in the 2020 Annual Report, in which this article (on pages 9/10) also appeared: www.suisa.ch/annualreport

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2020 was an annus horribilis for many music creators. Concerts and other events were by and large prohibited. Most organisers, artists and authors thus lost a large part of their income. Thanks to the good performance in other areas and to its prompt action, SUISA managed to contain the financial damage for many entitled parties. Text by Andreas Wegelin

A worthy result despite COVID

Concerts were hardly possible from February 2020 onwards. However, thanks to an increase in the online sector, SUISA’s annual result turned out relatively good. (Photo: Oleksii Synelnykov / Shutterstock)

After being hit by the Covid pandemic, the world went into a state of shock. The pandemic impacted – and continues to impact – large segments of the economy. The cultural sector, and music creators as part of it, were hit especially hard. “First to...read more

Full speed ahead

The Corona pandemic continues to direct the course of SUISA’s business. This was clearly perceptible at the Board meeting in April. Which is why it is all the more important to set the course for the future. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board of Directors: Full speed ahead

Despite adverse circumstances, the Cooperative Society SUISA stayed its course in the interest of its members and principals. (Photo: Lobroart / Shutterstock.com)

Business as usual – this expression may sound odd in Corona year 2. And yet, at the last spring meeting, much remained the (new) same. After one year of Corona, SUISA’s Board and Executive Committee have grown accustomed to meeting via videoconference. Just as they have become inured to the rolling budgeting rendered necessary by the uncertain situation in the cultural sector.

And yet, this year, the first Board meeting was special. After a bumper year in 2019, SUISA saw a downturn in revenues in 2020 – as was only to be expected given the pandemic. However, the decline was less steep than had been feared. Turnover dropped 12% overall. This was primarily due to the drastic fall in revenues from performance rights. Corona-related bans on events, and recurrent business shutdowns led to a 34% decline in revenues from this sector. The most affected were concert licence fees (–51%), restaurants (–46%), entertainment events (–47%) and cinemas (–59%).

Relatively good performance thanks to broadcasting rights and online uses

That total sales “only” declined by 12% was due to a slight increase in broadcasting rights and, above all, to the growth in revenues from online business. Good secondary income and strong cost awareness within SUISA also contributed.

It follows, therefore, that the amount distributable to authors and publishers also declined – by 10.5% overall. Moreover, the Board decided to allocate an unchanged additional distribution of 7% from the released settlement provisions on all uses of works to be settled in 2021.

The business activities of our subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing, responsible for global online licensing, developed satisfactorily. In 2020, SUISA Digital Licensing generated about CHF 5.5m in revenues. The Board acknowledged the financial situation of SUISA Digital Licensing and the current status of the joint venture Mint Digital Services. Since both companies are still in development, the Board decided the necessary measures to ensure the equilibrium of SUISA Digital Licensing’s balance sheet. SUISA’s claims on Mint for business development costs (under del credere provisions) were extended for an additional year and the additional claim from 2020 was in its turn written off in the financial statements.

The 2021 General Meeting will take place by written correspondence again

In view of the continuing uncertainty with regard to indoor assemblies, the Board decided that the General Meeting would perforce be held for a second time by written correspondence. The Board nominated State Councillor (FDP/Freibourg) to succeed Géraldine Savary who was withdrawing. Video messages from Johanna Gapany, SUISA President Xavier Dayer, and CEO Andreas Wegelin, and information about the 2021 General Meeting to be held by written correspondence is available under www.suisa.ch/en/members/general-assembly.html and on the SUISAblog.

Status of 2021 budget with the ongoing Corona crisis

The uncertain situation in the cultural sector owing to the Corona crisis continues to cause concern. When and how performances will be able to be staged anew, and music halls and theatres will be able to open, is still unknown. As a result, rolling budget planning continues to be the order of the day as in past months. The Board’s Finance Committee will decide in early June 2021 whether the budget approved in December 2020 needs re-adjusting because of Corona.

Thanks to the emergency Corona fund, the Pension Fund for authors and publishers, and the extended rules on advances, SUISA has been able to support its members in these difficult times. In this regard, the Board decided to extend the time limit for the repayment or compensation of advances against current settlements until the end of June 2022.

Mint joint venture to be strengthened

Apart from music publishers – including BMG for Australia, Africa and India – Mint’s customers for online licensing now also include European sister societies. Mint offers their repertoires in bundles to online providers such as Spotify, Apple Music, or Youtube.

By bundling repertoires, Mint is strengthening its market position in online music rights. Despite the small Swiss repertoire, SUISA has become a serious negotiating partner thanks to Mint and SUISA Digital Licensing and the bundling of its repertoire. Depending on the country, its market share of the global repertoire varies between 4 and 10%. At the meeting, the Board defined the conditions to be applied to large European collecting societies wishing to participate in the Mint joint venture. This will further strengthen Mint’s market position in the constantly growing market for online music rights.

Adapting the range of services for members and principals

In the Report on the December meeting, we mentioned that the Board was looking to reorganise the services provided to members and principals with a view to saving costs. As of 2022, principals will only be able to access SUISA’s extended range of services through the online service portal. Comprehensive information on revenues and invoicing will be even easier for principals to find on the portal thanks to the new functionalities. Instead of time-consuming inquiries by phone, letter or email, principals will be able to call up all the data on their relationship with SUISA online through their individual “My account” access. Voting members will have access to these same services via the online service portal; in addition, however, they will continue to be entitled to personal advisory services.

As the above-mentioned Report says, in December 2020, the Board decided that authors and publishers would be admitted as members with full voting rights once they have been principals for at least one year and have received over CHF 3000 (previously 2000) in settlements since first registering as principals. Moreover, members who have received distributions totalling less than CHF 3000 over the last ten years would revert back to the status of principal. This change is in accordance with Article 5.5.4 of SUISA’s Articles of Association. Principals do not have voting rights in the Society, but they are entitled to the same licensing and distribution of revenues from the use of their works; principals have no financial disadvantage over voting members.

These measures – especially the upgrading of services through the members portal – are designed to further enhance SUISA’s efficiency. And, as a result, to distribute a higher share of revenues to authors and publishers.

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SUISA General Meeting: Emergency fund for authors and publishers approvedSUISA 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. Read more
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The Corona pandemic continues to direct the course of SUISA’s business. This was clearly perceptible at the Board meeting in April. Which is why it is all the more important to set the course for the future. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board of Directors: Full speed ahead

Despite adverse circumstances, the Cooperative Society SUISA stayed its course in the interest of its members and principals. (Photo: Lobroart / Shutterstock.com)

Business as usual – this expression may sound odd in Corona year 2. And yet, at the last spring meeting, much remained the (new) same. After one year of Corona, SUISA’s Board and Executive Committee have grown accustomed to meeting via videoconference. Just as they have become inured to the rolling budgeting rendered necessary by the uncertain situation in the cultural sector.

And yet, this year,...read more

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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  1. Martin LUTHER-OWUSU says:

    Bravo! Thanks for looking after authors and publishers during this period of Covid-19. The devastation of the pandemic is enormous and I pray that we would get rid of it sooner than later. And now a question:
    As a member living in Ghana, is there a chance to apply for a little bit from the fund to sustain me?
    Thank you very much.

    • The fund approved by the General Meeting is intended to compensate members, principals and clients in need and in distress due to the COVID-19 crisis, for SUISA income they demonstrably missed out on. They have the possibility to submit an online application on the member portal “My Account”. The application must prove that the affected person has suffered losses due to a lack of copyright income and that there is a state of need. Thus, the only decisive factor is SUISA membership and not residence or nationality. Claudia Kempf, SUISA Members Department

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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...read more

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

In 2019, SUISA recorded its best results in its 96-yrear history, with total revenues of CHF 171 million. Moreover, thanks to the excellent investment year in 2019, its investment performance also attained record heights. After deducting an average cost-coverage contribution of 13% from total royalty revenues of CHF 155.2 million, SUISA will be able to distribute CHF 135 million to rightholders in Switzerland and abroad. And yet, three months on, everything has changed. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

Three months after SUISA’s gratifying 2019 financial statements, instruments in concert halls fell silent. (Photo: VTT Studio / Shutterstock.com)

No sooner had SUISA announced its best results in its 96-year history, than a general ban was imposed on all public events, and all venues were shut down in March 2020, triggering an unprecedented negative record: one after the other, concerts, shows and dance events were cancelled. Overnight, bookings were struck from musicians’ calendars. In concert venues, musical instruments fell silent.

This cannot fail to impact SUISA’s business. Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, we are currently assuming that SUISA’s total revenues – and therefore the amount available for distribution – will fall by up to 25% by the end of 2020. Nobody can tell for sure today, much will depend on how the epidemic develops here and abroad, but a hefty recession seems imminent. It will take time to get back to normalcy, and we expect recovery to be no more than hesitant next year too.

In this crisis, SUISA is determined to prove itself a reliable partner both for music creators and music users. Appropriate measures have been put in place to support musicians, and an accommodating approach has been adopted towards customer payments. Meanwhile, new online forms of music performance are becoming more important as a source of royalties. Streaming may be the technology of the hour, but it only brings authors and music publishers a fraction of the revenues generated by live concerts.

“In this crisis, SUISA is determined to prove itself a reliable partner both for music creators and music users.”

SUISA has remained and remains active during the corona crisis. We are the hub for inquiries from members and customers. Although there are fewer events, we intend to maintain and even expand our services through automation. Unfortunately, the Board and the Executive Committee will not be able to welcome members personally to the General Meeting in Bern this year. To have a say in SUISA’s affairs, members will have to send in their vote by post. We encourage you to make use of this opportunity.

In any event, the employees at our three offices in Zurich, Lugano and Lausanne remain at your disposal. When work is slow, staff will be able to attend training courses; moreover, we are working full speed to develop online self-service services to give you more time to focus on your strengths. Making music, innovating, promoting. Despite the corona crisis, I wish you a challenging and productive summer.

SUISA matters: SUISAinfo 3.20, digital only
This autumn, the News for SUISA members will be sent by e-mail in digital format only. To contain costs in this difficult year, the hardcopy printed version will not be produced. SUISA provides regular news updates via www.suisa.ch, www.suisablog.ch, and SUISA Music Stories on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. (Manu Leuenberger)
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In 2019, SUISA recorded its best results in its 96-yrear history, with total revenues of CHF 171 million. Moreover, thanks to the excellent investment year in 2019, its investment performance also attained record heights. After deducting an average cost-coverage contribution of 13% from total royalty revenues of CHF 155.2 million, SUISA will be able to distribute CHF 135 million to rightholders in Switzerland and abroad. And yet, three months on, everything has changed. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

Three months after SUISA’s gratifying 2019 financial statements, instruments in concert halls fell silent. (Photo: VTT Studio / Shutterstock.com)

No sooner had SUISA announced its best results in its 96-year history, than a general ban was imposed on all public events, and all venues were shut down in March 2020, triggering an unprecedented negative record: one...read more

No General Meeting 2020 – but voting by correspondence instead

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the General Meeting 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 Meeting, 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 Meeting 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 Meeting. 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 Meeting, 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 Meeting 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 Meeting 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 Meeting, 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...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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  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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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

Overall, a positive financial year 2018

The SUISA Board and its Committees for Tariffs and Distribution as well as for Organisation and Communication met for their regular spring sessions on 9 and 10 April 2019 at the SUISA head office in Zurich. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Overall, a positive financial year 2018

Apart from the Cooperative Society SUISA, there is now also a SUISA group, which includes the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing and the 50% holding in the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services AG. (Photo: Natalie Schlumpf)

The most important topic during the spring meeting are traditionally the resolutions concerning the financial statements of the past year for submission to the General Assembly. SUISA publishes two financial statements in accordance with the Standard Swiss GAAP FER from this year onwards, one for the parent company, the Cooperative Society SUISA, and one consolidated financial statement for the SUISA group. The group comprises the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing with headquarters in Vaduz (FL) and the 50% holding in the company Mint Digital Services AG, Zurich, a Joint Venture by SUISA and the American organisation for music rights, SESAC.

The annual financial statements of the group as well as of the parent company show an overall positive picture. Total collections reached a new high of CHF 160.8m. Income from the licensing of the online music business surpassed CHF 10m for the first time and contributed to this result.

Unfortunately, the secondary income was much lower last year. The reason for this is the bad investment year. Securities income only reached CHF 0.6m in 2018. In 2017, this amount still stood at CHF 3m. As a consequence, this difference now lacks in terms of covering expenditure for 2018. Nevertheless, cost coverage deductions taken from the settlements to members should not increase. The Board therefore decided to use more money from the liabilities that became available for the financing of the costs, and has subsequently reduced the supplementary distribution from 7% to 5%.

Preparations for the General Assembly

Additional topics were the preparation of other business for the General Assembly: the analysis of the organisation’s risks, the resulting management report and the approval of the entire annual report for submission to the GA. Lastly, nominations for two retiring Board members had to be decided upon, and documents relating to the investment policy and the compensation of Board members that had become necessary due to the new Articles of Association had to be resolved.

The Board took notice that Executive Committee was making efforts and got involved with the relevant departments to collect remuneration from abroad. In this context, it is important to take into consideration that the laws, tariffs and distribution rules are different at our sister societies and that SUISA cannot be held responsible for that. The Board therefore rejected the claim for a settlement of a member which held the view that it had not received enough remuneration for usages abroad.

Finally, the Board had to say farewell to executive assistant Dora Zeller, who is going to leave SUISA in order to retire. President Xavier Dayer expressed his thanks in the name of the entire Board for the turntable-like function that Dora Zeller had mastered with distinction throughout the last 10 years, and wished her well for the next, ‘third’ phase in her life.

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The SUISA Board and its Committees for Tariffs and Distribution as well as for Organisation and Communication met for their regular spring sessions on 9 and 10 April 2019 at the SUISA head office in Zurich. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Overall, a positive financial year 2018

Apart from the Cooperative Society SUISA, there is now also a SUISA group, which includes the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing and the 50% holding in the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services AG. (Photo: Natalie Schlumpf)

The most important topic during the spring meeting are traditionally the resolutions concerning the financial statements of the past year for submission to the General Assembly. SUISA publishes two financial statements in accordance with the Standard Swiss GAAP FER from this year onwards, one for the parent company, the Cooperative Society SUISA, and one...read more

A bird’s eye view of SUISA’s 2018 General Assembly

On 22 June 2018, 208 voting members streamed into the Bierhübeli in Bern. They were there to participate in shaping the destiny of their cooperative society, and to take advantage of the opportunity to network and exchange information. Members, Board members, Executive Committee members, guests from cultural and political spheres, and SUISA staff – all were attending the SUISA’s 2018 Ordinary General Assembly. Text by Dora Zeller

A bird’s eye view of SUISA’s 2018 General Assembly

Voting in the packed hall of the Bierhübeli in Bern during SUISA’s General Assembly on 22 June 2018. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Swiss Ländlermix, an ad hoc group consisting of Bruno Brodt, Jost Ribary, Dani Häusler, René Wicky, Robin Mark, Jacqueline Wachter, Kurt Albert and Stefan Schwarz, opened the General Assembly with a surprise folk-music medley. This cross-section of traditional and contemporary Swiss folk music got the public into the proper mood for the meeting.

Swiss Laendlermix

The General Assembly opened on a musical note with a medley of traditional and contemporary Swiss folk music by the ad hoc group “Swiss Ländlermix”. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

Before the statutory business, a short film was presented showing the social media platforms launched at the beginning of the year. Apart from the SUISAblog, there are now SUISA Music Stories on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.

After the film, the General Assembly approved the annual report, management report, financial statements, cashflows, Notes and auditor’s report for the 2017 financial year. The Board and the Auditor were granted discharge for the reporting year, and the auditing mandate was renewed for 2018.

Amendment of the Articles and election of the Complaints Committee

The main business of the Assembly was the amendment of the Articles of Association. Andreas Wegelin explained why the Articles should be aligned with the Liechtenstein Collecting Societies Act and the EU Directive on Collective Rights Management (CRM Directive). He mentioned the main changes, namely: non-discrimination rules, additional powers to the General Assembly, and greater influence for members. After various suggestions, questions and clarifications, the General Assembly approved the proposed amendments with no negative votes.

The General Assembly also approved the list of candidates for election to the new Complaints Committee. Board members Marco Neeser and Christian Fighera, as well as Danièle Wüthrich-Meyer as external representative (Vice President of the Federal Competition Commission), were elected by a large majority. The same applied for substitutes Roman Camenzind and Zeno Gabaglio (both members of SUISA’s Board) and for external representatives Daniel Alder and Gregor Wild (both attorneys-at-law and members of the Federal Arbitration Commission). Bernhard Wittweiler, Head of SUISA’s Legal Department, was designated Chair of the Complaints Committee. He is a member ex officio of the Complaints Committee and does not have to be elected by the General Assembly.

Natalie Riede

Publisher Natalie Riede (in the picture), a representative of the Swiss electronic music scene, was elected to the Distribution and Works Committee. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Natalie Riede was elected to the Distribution and Works Committee where she replaces Guido Röösli. Through her publishing house, Black Music Management, Natalie Riede has been member of SUISA since 2014; her main focus is on electronica and she represents the Swiss electronic music scene.

In her presentation as Guest Speaker, Danièle Wüthrich-Meyer, President of Swissperform, outlined the activities of the five collective administration societies from the formal, statutory perspective, from the consensual contract- and Articles-based perspective, and from the factual angle.

Podium

SUISA’s Executive Committee reported on the 2017 business year. On the podium, from left to right: Irène Philipp Ziebold, Vincent Salvadé, President Xavier Dayer, Vice-President Marco Zanotta and Andreas Wegelin at the lectern. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

Vincent Salvadé and Irène Philipp then provided information about the current business year. Andreas Wegelin reported on the Mint Digital Services joint venture and explained a number of current political developments which were liable to impact SUISA’s business activities. Lastly, Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA, reported on the business year of SUISA’s foundation for musical promotion.

SUISA’s President, Xavier Dayer, closed the General Assembly, which had been as substantial as it was interesting, at about 2 pm. He indicated that the next General Assembly would be held on Friday, 21 June 2019, in Biel.

After the meeting, participants were invited to a buffet lunch in the garden of the Bierhübeli, where they had the opportunity to exchange views and pursue discussions with other participants and with SUISA staff members.

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On 22 June 2018, 208 voting members streamed into the Bierhübeli in Bern. They were there to participate in shaping the destiny of their cooperative society, and to take advantage of the opportunity to network and exchange information. Members, Board members, Executive Committee members, guests from cultural and political spheres, and SUISA staff – all were attending the SUISA’s 2018 Ordinary General Assembly. Text by Dora Zeller

A bird’s eye view of SUISA’s 2018 General Assembly

Voting in the packed hall of the Bierhübeli in Bern during SUISA’s General Assembly on 22 June 2018. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Swiss Ländlermix, an ad hoc group consisting of Bruno Brodt, Jost Ribary, Dani Häusler, René Wicky, Robin Mark, Jacqueline Wachter, Kurt Albert and Stefan Schwarz, opened the General Assembly with a surprise folk-music medley. This cross-section of traditional and contemporary Swiss folk music got the...read more