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Ghost Festival – The big silence

The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or Dodo are lined up next to the “young and wild ones” such as Crème Solaire, Annie Taylor or KT Gorique. Unfortunately, you will not get much more than their names. Music is something you will not find at this event, nor will there be brilliant live shows or the usual festival feeling with tents, catering stalls and queuing in front of mobile toilets.

The Ghost Festival is “the festival that does not take place”. It is not going to take place over the weekend of 27/28 February 2021.

Ghost matches in football were the inspiration for the Ghost Festival

Brought to life by a few Berne music lovers, the Ghost Club, the Ghost Festival is an initiative of solidarity for Swiss music creators and performers.  Baldy Minder, booker and manager of acts such as the Bern Hip-Hop-Kollektiv Chlyklass or the female rapper 11Ä is a member of the Ghost Club. In the backstage area of the Zurich concert venue “Exil”, he told us during the video interview what the basic idea of the Ghost Festival is: “There are ghost matches in football. And as a supportive football fan, you show your solidarity these days by renewing your season ticket even though the future is uncertain. And that is how the idea for the Ghost Festival came about.”

Music fans can buy tickets for the festival as follows: A one-day pass for CHF 20, a two-day pass for CHF 50 or a VIP ticket for CHF 100. And because it does not take place, the tickets are never sold out. Furthermore, there is a broad range of Ghost Festival merchandise from T-shirts to hats and caps or hoodies and jackets. The income thus made will be paid through to the artists as well as their bookers, light and sound engineers and others. This kind of money is more than just a nice little top up: In the current situation, the most important source of income for most of the music creators and artists – in the broadest sense – drops out: concerts. And this situation has been ongoing, apart from a few short periods of relief in the summer of 2020, for one year now. And an improvement is not in sight.

A hole of more than CHF 50,000 in the financial ledgers of the authors and publishers of music

This is also reflected at SUISA when it comes to the collections from performing rights which include concerts and festivals, among others. Based on the example of the Ghost Festival, this can be well demonstrated: Around 15,000 tickets have been sold so far for the festival. If this was a normal event, where artists perform their songs, the composers, lyricists and publishers of the performed works would receive more than CHF 50,000 in royalties. Since no music is played, this kind of income simply drop off.

Around 400 festivals take place in Switzerland each year, the country with the largest festival density worldwide. Most of these festivals had to be cancelled due to the corona pandemic last year. As a consequence, SUISA’s income for copyright arising from concerts in 2020 were more than 50% lower than in the previous year. In absolute figures, this is, compared to 2019, CHF 12m less which will be paid out to the music creators in 2020 from concert income. And this detrimental situation is going to last well into 2021 and probably also into 2022.

An initiative of solidarity also aimed at bookers, sound engineers, roadies and other participants

And these are only the collections for those who composed or wrote the lyrics to musical works or are in the publishing business. For musicians, there is also the loss of gig fees, which are usually much higher than the copyright royalties. Concert and festival cancellations are not just problematic for musicians: The crisis which has now been going on for about a year has also affected the people that make such a festival and concerts possible in general: Bookers, sound and light engineers, roadies, tour managers, merchandise salespeople, security staff or of course the concert promoters themselves.

“The idea is that it is not just the bands who benefit but also that there is a holistic promotion and support for people who work in this sector”, says Baldy Minder. “When bands are on the road, they have a tour manager, a light engineer or a sound engineer; bands who travel with instruments have stage hands who help to carry all the equipment. There are an awful lot of people involved who currently have very little to do, unfortunately, and thus much less income.”

100% of the ticket sales go to the music creators

That is why the artists and bands could name two additional people from their entourage who should also benefit from the income generated by the Ghost Festival. In total, this is about 1,300 people. “The collected monies will be distributed on a per capita basis and not on a per-band basis”, explains Baldy Minder. While 100% of the income from ticket and merchandising sales flow to music creators, a part of the sponsorship funds will be used to pay for the work of the organisers. “The partnerships enable us to pay our salaries”, says Baldy Minder.  And adds: “Whatever remains of the sponsorship funds will be allocated to the artists.”

One of the biggest challenges for the organisers was time management: The idea came about at the end of November 2020. There were just three months to carve out the biggest festival in Switzerland. Even if there are no performances in the end, there are some parallels between organising a ghost festival and a real festival, as Baldy Minder explains: “A major part is rather similar to a real festival. You have to make a booking, you initiate the entire promotion, social media and press campaign. You have a lot of contact with the bands. What you don’t have is the entire infrastructure. You do not have to build a fence, set up a stage and we do not have to organise a PA company. We also do not need security. We do not need to pay SUISA fees since nothing is going to happen from a copyright perspective, after all, you won’t hear a peep at the festival.”

Ghost sounds, if anything

The event organisers have also intentionally renounced on organising streaming concerts for the weekend. Baldy Minder says: “Many people are asking for streams, but no, there will simply be nothing this time, no music. It is now finally the time where you can lean back and give back.”

For the audience of the Ghost Festival that does not want the sounds of silence and is missing the music, there will be something to listen to after all, even if it is no music: “We will release an album. It won’t be a compilation but an album as “The Ghost Orchestra”, announces Baldy Minder. It will be released on 26/2/21, one day ahead of the festival.” It is going to be released as a CD – with a clear idea behind it, as Baldy Minder explains: “The CD is totally anti-cyclical, a little bit of a ghost which is slowly vanishing.” Most of the bands from the line-up will be included on the mysterious CD. And they are artists from all language regions of Switzerland. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic affects music creators across all of Switzerland.

SUISA is a partner of the Ghost Festival
The Covid-19 crisis heavily affects SUISA members. For that reason, SUISA acts as a sponsoring partner of the Ghost Festival, not just the Cooperative Society itself but also its staff members. Each ticket that is bought by the SUISA staff will be enhanced in value by the company: Each one-day ticket will be upgraded to a two-day ticket, each two-day ticket will be upgraded to a VIP ticket and for each sold VIP ticket the staff receive a second VIP ticket.Above and beyond that, SUISA will be reporting from the festival on the festival weekend and talk to some artists and organisers. More info will be available in the coming days on www.instagram.com/suisamusicstories.

 

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The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or...read more

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

A year ago, on 28 February 2020, the first restrictions for cultural events were adopted. Initially events were limited to 1,000 people, then the first lockdown occurred in mid-March. Thanks to precautionary measures, small rule relaxations were granted in the summer, but they were gradually reversed in autumn. Since mid-January 2021, we have been stuck in the second lockdown: without music events, without access to real – non-virtual – cultural experiences. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO, considers the arts and culture as an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. (Photo: Beat Felber)

In order to stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus, the authorities initiated drastic measures. In principle, service ranges outside your daily needs can only be accessed with difficulty, or they are no longer permitted altogether.

But what is that actually, “daily needs”? Who defines them?

The daily needs of people also include things that they can enjoy intellectually! Attending a concert, going to the cinema or visiting an exhibition: Why have museums been closed, when, in fact, exhibitions rarely have to fend off crowds of visitors, except maybe in the case of blockbuster special exhibitions? Why do cabarets and small stages have to keep their doors shut? They could provide Swiss artists with the opportunity to perform and, at the same time, delight a small but certainly grateful audience.

A concert streamed on the internet is no replacement for live events. There is no interaction, no joint experience of an artistic performance which leads to a cross-fertilisation of both sides, performers and audience, that actually makes a concert the memorable occasion it should be.

Meanwhile, concerts with no audiences are organised such as the “ghost festival”: A festival with about 300 bands, with nearly 1,300 music creators including technicians, engineers, bookers, managers and other parties contributing, which actually does not take place simply because nobody can go there. SUISA does support such a “non-festival” with sponsoring but also via ticket sales by its staff.

Cultural and creative industries are relevant

Many event organisers and promoters had worked out reliable precautionary and protective measures in the summer months of 2020 and implemented them with additional costs that were not always insignificant. Now, they are virtually facing an occupational ban. Practically nothing has been permitted any more for a total period of more than six months . The corona bans and prohibitions led to huge financial losses. The Confederation and the cantons may have adopted support programmes, but they have not been well adapted to the situation of the many freelance artists and the event organisers or promoters who are sole traders.

Where does the low regard for the cultural sector stem from?

There is obviously no cultural awareness among the decision makers in politics and administration. Despite a new study of Ernst & Young (EY) showing that the cultural sector is in fourth place regarding the number of employees in Europe: www.rebuilding-europe.eu

We therefore call upon persons with political and administrative control and institutions alike: Culture is vital! It is an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. Allow it to flourish, even in times of a lockdown! It delights people, gives them a perspective beyond the pandemic and particularly gives the artists a livelihood.

Create more differentiated rules: Small events and events with a reduced audience size must be possible, just like open museums, cultural venues, where interested people and artists can meet and experience something together, naturally in compliance with the health regulations. Such places are just as important for society and everyday life as shops where you can buy your everyday provisions. Scientific research has proven that no increased danger exists at cultural events with good precautionary measures with regards to a further spread of the corona virus: more information on this can be read in the study on aerosoles of the Fraunhofer Institute at the Konzerthaus Dortmund (Dortmund Concert Hall) and the closing report of the trial operations of the Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) with increased audience numbers.

Anchoring cultural awareness more firmly

The corona crisis has revealed something else with respect to culture: Only after events were prohibited and thus disappeared, many have become aware how important culture and entertainment is for us humans and how uplifting cultural exchange between artistic creators and the audience is for both sides.

This cultural awareness should become anchored among the Swiss population more firmly. Starting with education: Young people should be led to the arts through education and through enabling access to cultural achievements. While a few things have been accomplished via the Initiative Jugend & Musik (Youth & Music) there is still a lot to be done, in particular in the other creative genres than just music.

Society’s interest in music, the visual arts, film, literature, dance and performance arts is expanded by stimulating personal creation and promoting the facilitation of current artistic production and artistic heritage. The more people come into contact with artistic forms of expression, the more the need for art and culture will grow. Which ultimately leads to society demanding in a more sustainable manner that this need is satisfied and the necessary conditions for that are created and provided.

A joint strong voice for culture is necessary

In order to increase and more firmly anchor the need for art and culture, the cultural institutions of this country must get together and jointly and more vehemently demand and promote the dissemination of cultural creation.

The “Taskforce Culture” is a joint strong voice which has been heard for the first time during the pandemic. Over the last few months, this task force has, as a discussion partner for politicians and officials, already managed rather well to gather and bundle the forces from the most diverse cultural genres, from artist associations to event organisers and cultural mediators and to stand up for culturally specific concerns. The message has, after all, not hit home with everyone that artistic creation has different requirements to working in many production or service sectors.

A fusion of cultural institutions and associations which, similarly to the large trade associations and workers’ organisations, can take on an important role as a contact for societal and political developments in Switzerland. Such a strong, joint voice for culture is going to get additional relevance in the coming months and years. The public sector will have to make extremely drastic spending cuts because the national economy has suffered and continues to suffer from immense damage due to the fight against the pandemic by way of prohibitions and bans. Future tax collections will decrease while the national debt will increase due to the support measures.

How quickly the savings lever has been applied to culture and education sectors first during financially difficult situations is something we have witnessed already. Together, cultural associations and institutions can raise their voice and see to it that, in the mid- to long-term, the societal and political significance of art and culture is strengthened and respected. For artistic forms of expression and the access to them must of course be recognised as a basic need of people. You cannot and you must not lock them away.

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  1. Markus Hefti says:

    Unverhältnismässige und existenzbedrohende Beschlüsse „ unserer „
    Politiker schüren das Unverständnis in der Bevölkerung. Aber da sie nie für ihre Fehler
    zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden ist es ihnen scheinbar Egal ☹️

    • Danke für Ihren Kommentar. Dass es Massnahmen gegen die Covid-19-Pandemie braucht, stellen wir nicht in Frage. Es braucht allerdings differenziertere Massnahmen, die gewisse Wirtschaftszweige gegenüber anderen nicht benachteiligen.
      Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO

      • Ndiaye says:

        Une contribution de haute facture . La culture inspire de belles ouvertures au monde .
        Alassane ndiaye membre Suisa Sénégal

Leave a Reply

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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A year ago, on 28 February 2020, the first restrictions for cultural events were adopted. Initially events were limited to 1,000 people, then the first lockdown occurred in mid-March. Thanks to precautionary measures, small rule relaxations were granted in the summer, but they were gradually reversed in autumn. Since mid-January 2021, we have been stuck in the second lockdown: without music events, without access to real – non-virtual – cultural experiences. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO, considers the arts and culture as an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. (Photo: Beat Felber)

In order to stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus, the authorities initiated drastic measures. In principle, service ranges outside your daily needs can only be accessed with difficulty, or they are...read more

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

The tariffs that are being negotiated now, during the corona crisis, are intended to apply in better times when music will hopefully be played again. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The dynamics have changed. Talks are now held mostly by videoconference. In other words, human relations take place through an interposed screen. This makes it more difficult to observe non-verbal reactions to a proposal, or simply to understand one’s counterparts. We must adapt … and regret the days when a handshake symbolised agreement.

Moreover, the crisis tends to freeze negotiating positions. On the one hand, the economy is in trouble: large events are banned, and the country goes from lockdown, to unlockdown, to re-lockdown. On the other, artists’ and creators’ revenues are in free fall. Under the circumstances, it is more difficult to make concessions and reach a compromise. Everyone is determined to protect what little they have left.

So what strategy should SUISA now adopt?

Firstly, certain sectors are clearly less impacted by the crisis than others. Online usages, for example, are not lagging: people are too scared – or are not allowed – to go to the cinema, so they watch a film on VoD. Music streaming is also doing well. These are therefore the areas SUISA should focus on to negotiate the best terms for its members. Who, for their part, are having a truly hard time.

“It is our duty today to prepare for the future and to support the equitable implementation of legal principles in favour of our members.”

We must, however, avoid one pitfall. In many areas, the fall in users’ revenues automatically has negative consequences for authors: after all, authors’ royalties are calculated as a percentage of users’ revenues. Users should not take advantage of the crisis to obtain better terms from SUISA. Otherwise authors will lose twice. We have had to remind our partners of this.

But the hard truth is that the live entertainment sector is in agony. Last spring, we interrupted certain negotiations hoping to start them again when the sun came back. After a short reprieve, the clouds are now building up again … and the tariff process takes time. Now, at the end of 2020, we are negotiating tariffs which will only come into force in 2022 when (as we dare hope) the crisis will be well behind us. It is our duty today to prepare for the future and to support the equitable implementation of legal principles in favour of our members. That is certainly not easy when our partners are losing money. But it is our responsibility for a better future.

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Leave a Reply

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.

Your email address will not be published.

Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

The tariffs that are being negotiated now, during the corona crisis, are intended to apply in better times when music will hopefully be played again. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The dynamics have changed. Talks are now held mostly by videoconference. In other words, human relations take place through an interposed screen. This makes it more difficult to observe non-verbal reactions to...read more

Legal consequences of concert cancellations for Covid-19

Regrettably, owing to the coronavirus, some musical events have had to be cancelled. What are the consequences of such cancellations for the artists and organisers concerned? Is the artist still entitled to the contractual fee? Text by Céline Troillet

Legal consequences of concert cancellations for Covid-19

Empty stages and concert halls: what is the legal situation regarding events cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions? (Photo: Disq)

The coronavirus is a source of discomfort and uncertainty for us all. We must adapt as well as we can to these unprecedented circumstances since they are, for the time being at least, beyond our control. There are no clear answers to the health and economic issues that this crisis has raised, and there is great legal uncertainty. There are many outstanding questions.

Do you have a contract?

If you have a contract (or electronic exchange), see if it regulates the cancellation of the concert on grounds of force majeure or pandemic, and what effect such a cancellation has on fees. Albeit possible, this is seldom the case. Unfortunately, when a contract does provide for such cancellation, the parties usually agree that fees are not due in that event. Contracts rarely provide for a reduction in costs or the repayment of expenses already sustained.

A. Absence of a contract

If there is no written agreement, what legal provisions are applicable? To find out, you must proceed step by step:

1. Consider what type of contract under the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) might be binding on you: Swiss law, unfortunately, does not prescribe how an artist’s engagement contract is to be legally classified, and there is no precedent or case law in this regard. Therefore, there are several possible interpretations. Moreover, each case must be considered individually and you should seek legal advice in this regard.

The possible types of contract used for artists are: the contract for works and services (Article 363 et seq. CO), the employment contract (Article 319 et seq. CO), or the agency contract (Article 394 et seq. CO). The conditions of the individual contract types, and the differences between them, are described in section B below.

2. Once it is established what type of contract you are bound by, check the following explanatory notes on the types of contract (also see section B) to what extent compensation might be possible.

3. If the contract does not match any of the contract types provided for in the Code of Obligations, reference must be made to a general provision of contract law dealing with the consequences of non-performance of an obligation., i.e. Article 119 CO.

⇒ Principle and conditions of Article 119 CO:

This article stipulates that if, after a contract is concluded, circumstances intervene which make it impossible for one of the parties to perform its obligations (for reasons not attributable to that party), then the party is no longer bound by its contractual obligations. The law considers “subsequent” impossibility (i.e. after the contract is concluded), which presupposes the realisation of the three following conditions:

• the obligor (the party liable for performance of an obligation) is no longer able to perform (objective impossibility);
• the impossibility must arise from circumstances after the conclusion of the contract. Chance occurrences (beyond the control of a party) are a good example;
• the impossibility is not attributable to the obligor (it is not his fault if performance is made impossible).

⇒ Objective impossibility not attributable to the obligor:

It is for the court to determine whether the obligation is impossible to perform for reasons not attributable to the obligor.

When public order or internal security is threatened, as in the case of a pandemic, the Federal Council, for Switzerland, is obligated under the Federal Constitution to issue ordinances and take emergency decisions (Article 185 of the Federal Constitution). Within the framework of its discretionary power, the court is required to take into account the rules and decisions issued by the federal authorities. It follows that, in the case of concert cancellations proceeding from official decisions, the existence of an objective impossibility not attributable to the obligor would probably be recognised.

⇒ Legal consequences for the parties:

An impossibility within the meaning of Article 119 CO releases the obligor (the party who has to perform an obligation) from its obligation as well as the creditor (the party for which the obligor is required to perform) (Article 119(2) CO).

In other words, when a contract is concluded (between an artist and a concert organiser), the parties (the artist and the organiser) are both released from their obligations (the artist is no longer required to perform on stage; the organiser is no longer required to pay the artist a fee) if, through no fault of the artist’s (i.e. because of Covid-19 and not for a reason attributable to the artist), the person who was supposed to act (the artist) is prevented from fulfilling his obligation (to perform on stage).

B. The individual types of contract under the Swiss Code of Obligations

The contract for works and services (Article 363 et seq. CO):

Generally, the performances of an artist or group of artists fall within the scope of the contract for works and services (the artist delivers a single performance, based on a pre-defined programme, which is equated with a work).

Here, the case of force majeure is governed by Article 378 CO. This article provides that, where completion of a work is rendered impossible by a chance occurrence affecting the principal, the contractor is entitled to payment for the work already done and to reimbursement of any expenses incurred that were not included in the price.

If a concert is formally cancelled for coronavirus-related reasons, the impossibility for the principal (the organiser of the concert) to perform the contract should be recognised insofar as the principal is unable to stage the artist’s concert through no fault of his own. As a result, Article 378 CO would apply, and the artist would be entitled to remuneration for any work already performed (e.g. rehearsals) and his expenses.

The employment contract (Article 319et seq. CO):

Under certain circumstances, the artist’s contract can be deemed an employment contract (a subordinate relationship between the artist and the organiser, where the artist’s obligation to play music is determined by the employer’s needs rather than by his own as an artist).

Article 324 CO regulates the employee’s salary if he is prevented from working. Whether or not this provision applies to cases of force majeure, i.e. the cancellation of a concert by reason of coronavirus-related measures, is disputed. Most would answer in the affirmative, which would mean that the artist would be entitled to continued pay.

Agency contract (Article 394 et seq. CO):

If the artist’s contract falls neither under the contract of works and services nor under the employment contract, it will generally be classified as an agency contract (the artist seen as an agent performing a service for the organiser).

The agency contract does not provide for cases of force majeure. As a result, if a concert is cancelled for coronavirus-related reasons, Article 119 CO would probably apply and, accordingly, no remuneration would be payable. A reservation should be made in the event of untimely cancellation (e.g. immediately before the scheduled performance). In that case, compensation (but not the fee) could be granted to the artist for the loss sustained (Article 404 CO).

C. Conclusion

It is important to address the possible cancellation of the concert and the consequences on your legal relationship in the artist’s contract. If these points are regulated and the circumstance occurs, the artist and the organiser know what they can expect and claim from each other and can thus avoid financial and other damages.

In absence of a written contract, or if the contract does not regulate this point, the situation is likely to be more difficult. Since the legal nature of the artist’s contract is not clear, the relationship between the organiser and the artist will have to be interpreted to determine which of the three contract categories it is subject to (contract for works and services, employment contract or agency contract). The legal consequences will vary depending on the applicable rules. Payment of the artist’s fee will be justified in some cases, and not in others.

As you can see, there is no clear-cut answer determining the legal consequences of concert cancellations due to coronavirus. The circumstances must be appraised case by case. In absence of a contract, the ideal solution would be for the parties to agree a compromise. A postponement of the service or the total or partial reimbursement of your expenses could be possible solutions.

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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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Regrettably, owing to the coronavirus, some musical events have had to be cancelled. What are the consequences of such cancellations for the artists and organisers concerned? Is the artist still entitled to the contractual fee? Text by Céline Troillet

Legal consequences of concert cancellations for Covid-19

Empty stages and concert halls: what is the legal situation regarding events cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions? (Photo: Disq)

The coronavirus is a source of discomfort and uncertainty for us all. We must adapt as well as we can to these unprecedented circumstances since they are, for the time being at least, beyond our control. There are no clear answers to the health and economic issues that this crisis has raised, and there is great legal uncertainty. There are many outstanding questions.

Do you have a contract?

If you have a contract (or electronic exchange), see...read more

Night of Light: SUISA is committed to the event and culture industries

On Monday, 22 June 2020, from 10 pm to midnight, buildings throughout Switzerland were bathed in red light. The occasion was the “Night of Light”. The aim of this action was to draw the attention of the general public to the fact that many organisers and cultural operators are in a precarious situation due to the Corona crisis. SUISA also took part in this campaign and had its headquarters in Zurich illuminated in red. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

On Monday evening, more than 900 buildings throughout Switzerland were lit up red. From 10 p.m. to midnight, companies and organisations joined forces in the “Night of Light” campaign to set an example for the event and culture industry, which has been particularly hard hit by the corona crisis.

As a cooperative society of composers, lyricists and music publishers, SUISA also took part in the “Night of Light” and bathed its headquarters in Zurich Wollishofen in red light for two hours. Pictures of this campaign can be seen in the video. SUISA is thus committed to serving the interests of its members, the authors and publishers of music in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as its clients in the event and cultural industries.

The aim of the campaign was to make the public and politicians aware of the precarious situation of the event and culture industries caused by the corona crisis. The coordinators, associations from the event and culture industries, want to discuss with political leaders in the context of a sector dialogue how the multi-billion-dollar, heterogeneous event and culture industry can be saved from a massive wave of insolvencies and how thousands of jobs throughout Switzerland can be preserved.

“The events industry was the first sector of the economy to be hit by the Covid 19 crisis and it is very likely that it will also be affected the longest and most profoundly by its effects,” write the organisers of the Swiss “Night of Light”. From 16 March 2020 onwards, the working basis of an entire commercial sector has been made massively more difficult, and concerts, festivals, theatre performances, business events were until recently completely impossible, and even now are only possible with difficulty.

Even though the Federal Council announced further relaxation measures on 19 June 2020 and now allows events for up to 1,000 people, subject to compliance with appropriate safety and hygiene concepts, the situation in the event and culture industries remains extremely difficult. Firstly, events such as tours often require a planning period of several months and therefore cannot be repeated from one day to the next. Secondly, many events can hardly be carried out economically even with the new relaxation measures, as the organisers still have to comply with strict regulations.

In addition, the entitlement to short-time work for persons in a similar position to employers expired at the end of May and the conditions for support payments were tightened. This particularly affects SMEs and freelancers from the event industry and the circle of cultural workers, as these professional areas are largely made up of small owner-managed companies and self-employed persons. The event industry and creators and artists are therefore urgently dependent on the support being continued until normal operations are possible again.

SUISA supports the demands of cultural associations to continue their support measures for organisers and creators and artist. Otherwise there is a risk that many of these self-employed people, small and micro-enterprises will have to file for bankruptcy and disappear from the Swiss cultural landscape. Ultimately, thousands of jobs are at stake in an industry with an annual turnover of 70 billion Swiss francs.

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On Monday, 22 June 2020, from 10 pm to midnight, buildings throughout Switzerland were bathed in red light. The occasion was the “Night of Light”. The aim of this action was to draw the attention of the general public to the fact that many organisers and cultural operators are in a precarious situation due to the Corona crisis. SUISA also took part in this campaign and had its headquarters in Zurich illuminated in red. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

On Monday evening, more than 900 buildings throughout Switzerland were lit up red. From 10 p.m. to midnight, companies and organisations joined forces in the “Night of Light” campaign to set an example for the event and culture industry, which has been particularly hard hit by the corona crisis.

As a...read more

SUISA extends payment deadline for its customers

From April 2020 and until further notice, SUISA will grant an extension of the payment period on invoices issued. For music not used in connection with the official regulations against the spread of the corona pandemic, copyright fees will be dropped. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

SUISA extends payment deadline for its customers

The corona virus is currently posing major challenges for the whole of Switzerland – many of SUISA’s customers are affected by the financial consequences, as are the musicians whose rights SUISA manages. (Photo: Federal Office of Public Health)

The drastic measures taken to contain the Sars CoV-2 virus have brought about drastic changes in the social and economic environment in Switzerland within a very short time. Cultural life in the country has almost come to a standstill. Many of SUISA’s customers, especially event organisers and commercial enterprises, are suffering from the financial consequences of the lockdown. SUISA members are also severely affected by the sudden loss of basic income: Copyright royalties are one of the few steady sources of income for composers, lyricists and publishers whose rights SUISA manages.

SUISA is a link in the chain of companies affected by the crisis: Especially now, it is of existential interest for music creators that the payment of copyright royalties is preserved. In this context, SUISA is maintaining its service of permitting public use of music and is adapting some of its modalities to exceptional circumstances for the benefit of licensees.

Extension of the payment deadlines

For invoices issued from April 2020, the payment period for SUISA’s customers will be increased. The extended term of payment is recorded as a date on the invoices. This accommodation in the terms of payment is granted automatically and will be valid until further notice.

Discount for music usages that did not take place

Due to official regulations, various uses of music are and have been impossible. Be it banned events, closed shops or events in hospitality businesses that could inevitably not take place: Copyright fees for usages that have demonstrably not taken place shall not be payable.

In order to be able to deduct the discount correctly according to each individual case, various procedures will be applied for administrative and technical reasons:

Dance and entertainment in the hospitality industry

Customers who obtain a licence for dance and entertainment in the hotel and restaurant industry according to the Common Tariff H (CT H) can partially benefit from an automatic and deduction of the discount. For all cases where an automatic reduction is not possible due to the data available, we will dispatch the annual invoices in the regular scope. If the invoiced amount is too high due to cancelled events, we will revoke the invoices and reduce them to the actual amount of use according to the feedback from the customers.

Background entertainment

For licensees of the Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a) for background entertainment, the dates of business closures can vary considerably from one company to another.

We kindly ask you to notify us of the respective business closure dates by using our electronic form:

  • For your notification, please use the form located at www.suisa.ch/3a
  • Please note that reimbursements can only be made if no employees were on the business premises and if there were no occurrences of music use in telephone loops or in business vehicles.

Once we have verified the details you submitted, we are going to credit the relevant amounts in line with Common Tariff 3a for full calendar months where no background entertainment took place. For businesses which were open again on 27 April and would not fulfil these requirements, SUISA is offering a reduction of one calendar month as a gesture of goodwill.

Customers of other tariffs

Licensees of other tariffs who receive periodic invoices for long-term contracts must report any music use that has not taken place to the competent SUISA administration department, whose contact details appear on the invoices. Thus, in the context of a final settlement, the compensation can be adjusted to the actual use made.

SUISA remains available to answer questions or concerns of all customers by telephone from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Further information:
www.suisa.ch/3a
www.suisa.ch

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From April 2020 and until further notice, SUISA will grant an extension of the payment period on invoices issued. For music not used in connection with the official regulations against the spread of the corona pandemic, copyright fees will be dropped. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

SUISA extends payment deadline for its customers

The corona virus is currently posing major challenges for the whole of Switzerland – many of SUISA’s customers are affected by the financial consequences, as are the musicians whose rights SUISA manages. (Photo: Federal Office of Public Health)

The drastic measures taken to contain the Sars CoV-2 virus have brought about drastic changes in the social and economic environment in Switzerland within a very short time. Cultural life in the country has almost come to a standstill. Many of SUISA’s customers, especially event organisers and commercial enterprises,...read more

Minor amendments only to noise legislation

The ordinance on the federal act governing protection against non-ionising radiation and sound hazards (V-NISSG) was sent to the consultation stage in February 2018. The draft regulation provided more stringent requirements for events involving electrically amplified sound, as well as new stipulations for events without amplification. It was announced in early October that the Federal Office of Public Health would not adopt the most stringent restrictions. Text by Sarah Coopman

V-NISSG: Minor amendments only to noise legislation

Much ado about (almost) nothing: following fierce resistance from industry representatives affected by the proposed changes, the Federal Office of Public Health will refrain from major changes to noise protection legislation (including for major concerts such as the one pictured). (Photo: Marcel Grubenmann)

If you want to learn more about the limits and restrictions that currently apply to sound at events, check the Sound Levels and Laser Ordinance (SLO). It first and foremost states that events with a noise level of less than 93 dB(A) are not subject to any legal stipulations. These threshold values are determined using the average noise level during a one-hour period. According to the current SLO, the requirements for event organisers take effect when noise levels reach at least 93 dB(A) per hour for events that use electric amplification.

Current SLO regulations

The sound protection measures required differ according to the average sound level and can be divided into three categories. The first category of events comprises those with an average hourly noise level of between 93 and 96 dB(A). The organiser is required to report an event to the enforcement agency 14 days in advance. The audience must then be informed of possible damage to their hearing through signs at the event itself. Free ear protection must be provided. Finally, the SLO requires the noise level to be monitored with a decibel meter during the event. No special requirements exist for these meters.

The average hourly noise level at an event that uses electric amplification may not exceed 100 dB(A). For events with a noise level of between 96 and 100 dB(A), the same requirements apply as for events in the first category, provided the total duration of the noise does not exceed three hours. Again, event organisers are subject to the following requirements: a duty to notify the authorities of the event, a duty to inform the audience and provide earplugs, and a duty to monitor the noise level throughout the entire event.

No requirements for unamplified noise so far

However, if the duration of noise exceeds three hours stricter rules apply. In this case, the event organiser must record the noise level and create a quiet zone to compensate. The noise level may not exceed 85 dB(A) in this zone.

The maximum noise level, i.e. the loudest level of noise exposure measured at any given point, may not exceed 125 dB(A) at any time. Unamplified sound is not currently subject to any conditions. This means that symphony orchestras, opera singers or Guggenmusik bands are not subject to any of the above limits and the associated requirements. These are the regulations for events with electrically amplified sound according to the currently applicable sound regulations.

Opposition to V-NISSG draft ordinance

The draft of the new ordinance concerning the federal act governing protection against non-ionising radiation and sound hazards, V-NISSG, largely adopted and selectively amended these regulations. The draft ordinance also provided stipulations for events without amplification. And it would have expanded the obligation to record the noise level to all events with an average noise level in excess of 93 dB(A). The federal government also wanted to institute more stringent requirements for the recording devices.

During the consultation, industry representatives vehemently opposed the proposed changes. Following discussions with industry representatives in late September, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has now decided to abandon these changes and will ask the Federal Council to remove the more extensive recording requirements. This means that the status quo remains in terms of the recording requirements, with recording only required at events with an average noise level in excess of 96 dB(A) for more than three hours.

FOPH will refrain largely from tightening

The FOPH will request only that events with unamplified sound of above 93 dB(A) be subject to a duty to inform the audience and provide free ear protection. The previous obligation to notify the authorities will be removed. Minimum requirements will apply to orchestral performances, classical music concerts and similar events, provided the noise level of 93 dB(A) is reached.

The stricter requirements for decibel meters are unlikely to be implemented. Rather, the requirements for the meters and the measuring method should be defined per se based on an industry recommendation.

No major changes to noise control legislation are therefore expected in light of these developments. In particular, the current limits will remain in place. According to the FOPH, these conditions have been accepted by industry representatives and were not questioned during the course of the consultation. However, the extent to which changes may still be incorporated into the new ordinance is not fully clear at the moment. The Federal Council will decide definitively on the implementation and entry into force of the draft ordinance in early 2019.

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Your email address will not be published.

The ordinance on the federal act governing protection against non-ionising radiation and sound hazards (V-NISSG) was sent to the consultation stage in February 2018. The draft regulation provided more stringent requirements for events involving electrically amplified sound, as well as new stipulations for events without amplification. It was announced in early October that the Federal Office of Public Health would not adopt the most stringent restrictions. Text by Sarah Coopman

V-NISSG: Minor amendments only to noise legislation

Much ado about (almost) nothing: following fierce resistance from industry representatives affected by the proposed changes, the Federal Office of Public Health will refrain from major changes to noise protection legislation (including for major concerts such as the one pictured). (Photo: Marcel Grubenmann)

If you want to learn more about the limits and restrictions that currently apply to sound at events, check the...read more

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

The new Joint Tariff K applies to events which have taken place since 01 January 2017. An overview of the changes to the concert tariff in force and some answers to frequently asked questions which have arisen based on the experience gathered with the new provisions in the first few months. Text by Chantal Bolzern

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

Since January 2017, a new concert tariff has been in force in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. The picture shows SUISA member Seven (in the middle) on stage at the Tonart Festival in Altdorf, where he performed with a trio in March 2017. More information on Seven is available in the brochure “Where the music is new”, 2017 edition. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

What’s new?

There is now one instead of two tariffs. That way, all information that is relevant to customers, and the respective licensing terms and conditions are now combined into one single document. This makes life much easier, especially for event organisers who organise, apart from concerts, also other events such as theatre performances, cabarets etc.

The types of events are defined and explained in more detail and clarity. Apart from concerts, there are now specific event categories for concert-like performances, shows, ballet and theatre. These are intended to help customers to find their type of event and the licensing rates required for calculating the budget more quickly.

The licence fee percentages have been newly defined and reduced for many events depending on the type of event (concert, concert-like performance, show, ballet, theatre).

Apart from concerts, Common Tariff K (CT K) also governs licensing for music appearing in comedy, shows (such as “Art on Ice” or “Masters of Dirt”), sport tournaments with choreographies such as show dances or theatre performances with musical background or bedding. The calculation of the licence fees for comedy, tattoo festivals etc. in particular will become easier since the event is now relevant as a whole for the amount of the licence rate; it is no longer necessary to license individual works at different rates. This also helps making the budgeting process for event organisers easier and reduces the efforts of SUISA.

Small concerts are invoiced based on the works that were actually used (“pro rata temporis” rule) and no longer as a lump-sum. At the same time, licensing based on the costs of the music usage was re-introduced. Thus, the copyright remuneration will be calculated on the basis of the income generated or the costs incurred. The latter specifically applies to concerts which are free of charge and charity events.

Customers may also deduct the costs for external ticket sales up to a lump-sum of 10%, even for small concerts, if they submit the relevant supporting documents. SUISA thus takes into consideration that event organisers nowadays do use external ticket agencies, even for small or non-commercial events.

Performing artists of any recordings that are played by event organisers prior or after the event, or between the live performances, now also grant the event organiser reproduction rights. This entails a slight increase of the licensing rate for neighbouring rights from 0.2% to 0.25%.

Following the afore-mentioned lowering of the licensing fees, there was a review of the discount system. The volume discount is now only granted for small concerts and the contractual customer must be a member of a recognised association of event organisers in order to qualify for a discount.

What has not changed?

Services to concert goers by third parties that are included in the entrance fee, such as the use of public transport, a voucher for an inclusive drink etc. as well as ticket and value-added tax may still be deducted from the income if the relevant supporting documents are submitted.

The minimum licence fee has remained the same and still amounts to CHF 40 per event. Our contractual customers continue to receive the association discount as well as a 2% cash discount if they pay their invoice within 10 days.

Event organisers must submit set lists or lists of the performed works to SUISA. Firstly, SUISA requires such lists so that it can calculate a correct licensing amount. If SUISA does not hold the rights in all the titles, because, for example, copyright protection has already lapsed, the licensing amount is reduced on a pro rata temporis basis. The licensing rate also gets reduced on a pro rata temporis base if music is not used throughout the entire performance, as is the case quite regularly for theatre performances or comedy. Secondly, SUISA requires the lists in order to distribute the income collected to those composers and publishers whose music has been performed during the event.

Answers to frequently asked questions

Why does the new tariff create more administrative effort?
Introducing a new tariff is always an opportunity to check with long-term customers whether the modalities for the notifications of the events are still suitable for both parties. Furthermore, it is possible that with the partial changes to the licensing rates or conditions under the tariff, SUISA requires different information from customers. This mainly affects such concerts for which event organisers had received a licence based on the Common Tariff Kb between 2009 and 2016 (small concerts). Unfortunately, this is linked to an increased administrative effort for customers as well as for SUISA during a transitional period. As soon as we have clarified with individual customers in each case how we can licence and distribute correctly, this will get easier again.

What is a small concert and why is there no longer a specific tariff for it?
Between 2009 and 2016, a proper tariff applied for small concerts, Common Tariff Kb. Since the beginning of this year, small concerts are governed by the same tariff again as major concerts, theatre performances or comedy events.

In order to continue to fall under the “small concert” category, the capacity of the event venue must be no bigger than 999 people, and the income generated from ticket sales may not exceed CHF 15,000 per event. In this segment, the basic licensing rates were lowered from 10% until 2008 via 9.5% in 2016 to 9% for this year. Until 2008 the same rules have applied, and now, from 2017 onwards, apply again for the declaration of the concerts and licensing such as major concerts. This means that customers deliver the same information to us and don’t have to ask themselves each time which category the event falls under and how they should submit their documentation to SUISA.

This is especially a simplification of matters for medium-sized clubs whose capacity is just less than 1,000 people and which have generated more than CHF 15,000 in ticket sales in one instance and less in another. It’s also facilitating matters immensely for the venues that organise cabarets and concerts. Until now, you had to adhere to CT Ka for comedy, dance, acrobatics etc., and CT Kb for concerts.

Why are sponsoring monies or subsidies suddenly taken into consideration as income in the case of small concerts?
The basic idea of copyright is that authors participate in the collections which have been generated from the exploitation of their works. In the event business, the main income source are usually the ticket sales. If an event organiser’s plans for their budget only caters for the music costs such as payment for musicians to be covered by way of third party means, such third party means (sponsoring, subsidies etc.) must be taken into consideration as an income. This rule has already been established in concert tariffs as early as 20 years ago. It applies for all major concerts, comedy and theatre performances and used to apply to small concerts up until 2008. Due to the combination of the two tariffs CT Ka and CT Kb, it now applies to small concerts again since the beginning of this year.

Many non-commercial clubs and stages create annual budgets, where they make a hybrid calculation. They receive subsidies from their municipalities or cantons, but finance themselves from ticket income and turnover generated by the gastronomy on top of that. As long as they assume in their annual budgets that their ticket sales cover the artists’ performance salaries, the new tariff entails no changes for them. For long-term customers it therefore suffices to glance over their old invoices (up until 2008) to see whether a change has taken place. During the tariff negotiations, we undertook thorough calculations and research together with the associations whose results are now confirmed when implementing the tariff: for the vast majority of the event organisers of the non-commercial sector and especially clubs and stages, nothing will change.

The changes do, however, affect event organisers of corporate events or events that are free of charge, but also categories which can only pay artists’ salaries and other costs related to music by means of subsidies or sponsors’ subsidies.

What are non-musical performances at major concerts and what do they entail?
Both the old Common Tariff Ka (item 25 CT Ka) as well as the new Common Tariff K (item 14.1 CT K) include the term “non-musical performances”. We found out in everyday application of the tariff, that it wasn’t always clear to event organisers what is meant by this term. In order to answer these questions in the tariff, we have clarified this term in the new tariff text: it includes sophisticated choreographies, elaborate costumes and costume changes, video installations or light shows which go beyond the ‘must-have’. By doing so, we want to – as is required by copyright law – take performance-related activities into consideration which are not music but are still protected by copyright.

In practice, this means that the entire concept is taken into consideration for concerts of artists such as Beyoncé or bands like Archive, and the event organiser has to pay a lower licensing rate for the copyright in musical works. It also means that even in big stadiums, concerts sometimes will take place without elaborate artistic production and the event organiser will pay the usual basic licensing rate. That does not only apply to big classical concerts but can also be the case for concerts of certain singer songwriters, like Bruce Springsteen or Neil Diamond.

Why were the new provisions of the concert tariff made known so shortly before its introduction?
In June 2016, SUISA had announced that a new tariff had been negotiated with the relevant user associations such as SMPA, petzi, KTV, ATP etc. and that an agreement had been made. The result of the negotiations was submitted to the Federal Arbitration Commission for copyright and neighbouring rights (ESchK) for approval. The EschK approved the new Common Tariff K on 20 December 2016 and the tariff could thus come into force on 01 January 2017. The relevant tariff documents could not be officially published prior the approval had been given by the ESchK. SUISA had no influence on the date of the approval.

Further information:
«Concerts, comedy shows, shows, ballets, etc.» on www.suisa.ch

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Concerts and Festivals in SwitzerlandConcerts and Festivals in Switzerland In a commentary for IQ magazine, the publication of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Chantal Bolzern, Head of the Performing Rights Department at SUISA, outlines the importance of co-operation between collective management organisations and promoters. Read more
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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.

Your email address will not be published.

The new Joint Tariff K applies to events which have taken place since 01 January 2017. An overview of the changes to the concert tariff in force and some answers to frequently asked questions which have arisen based on the experience gathered with the new provisions in the first few months. Text by Chantal Bolzern

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

Since January 2017, a new concert tariff has been in force in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. The picture shows SUISA member Seven (in the middle) on stage at the Tonart Festival in Altdorf, where he performed with a trio in March 2017. More information on Seven is available in the brochure “Where the music is new”, 2017 edition. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

What’s new?

There is now one instead of two tariffs. That way, all information that is relevant to customers,...read more

Concerts and Festivals in Switzerland

In a commentary for IQ magazine, the publication of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Chantal Bolzern, Head of the Performing Rights Department at SUISA, outlines the importance of co-operation between collective management organisations and promoters.

Concerts and Festivals in Switzerland

Chantal Bolzern used to organise concerts herself in the past; she also completed a cultural management training course. In 2004, she started to work for SUISA in the legal department. Since 2010, she has been Head of the Performing Rights Department. (Photo: Sebastian Vollmert)

The Swiss apparently love concerts and festivals. Every year new festivals are founded and are taking place even in remote areas in the mountains. Some disappear again after a short time, others can look back on a long tradition of 40 years or more. There is also a wide range of alternative music clubs who attract a large crowd every week.

In 2015, SUISA licensed more than 20,000 concerts and festivals where over 360,000 different songs were performed. The tariff for concerts generated royalties of CHF 20.3m in 2015 which is nearly 50% of all revenue from performing rights. Considering that Switzerland only has a population of 8m, these figures are rather impressive.

SUISA serves as hub between songwriters and concert promoters

In order to make all this possible you need a great song as a basis, you need performers who translate the song into an inspiring live performance on stage. And last but not least you need the promoter to organize the event, make it run smoothly and make the crowd happy.

SUISA serves as a hub in this business. As a co-operative society we are owned by our members and therefore our aim is to help songwriters and publishers to participate in the income others generate with their songs. On the other hand, we want promoters to have easy access to the rights they need to create their event and to generate their revenue.

For two years, SUISA negotiated a new concert and festival tariff with all the relevant trade organisations in order to simplify the calculations for the promoters. The tariff sets  a license rate for concerts or festivals between 7% and 10% of ticketing revenue and a discount for the membership in a trade organization. Our tariff is also a one stop shop for the neighbouring rights which facilitates especially the lives of festival promoters.

Respect helps conquering new challenges in the live business ecosystem

Every 3 months we distribute royalties with detailed statements so that songwriters and publishers can verify where their money is coming from. We have full transparency in the revenue stream. All licensing and distribution work is done at a low administration cost of 12%.

Live business is an ecosystem where all parties involved need each other in order to keep things going. When all of them do a good job, they have not only a great time but they also make money. This allows composers to create new songs, which makes new performances and new concerts possible. Therefore we should all value and respect each other’s share and efforts in this business and work on solutions for new challenges together.

This contribution was written for IQ magazine where it has been published in the print edition of January 2017 on page 27 as well as online on the magazine websit. IQ magazine is an annual publication with 6 editions per year of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

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In a commentary for IQ magazine, the publication of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Chantal Bolzern, Head of the Performing Rights Department at SUISA, outlines the importance of co-operation between collective management organisations and promoters.

Concerts and Festivals in Switzerland

Chantal Bolzern used to organise concerts herself in the past; she also completed a cultural management training course. In 2004, she started to work for SUISA in the legal department. Since 2010, she has been Head of the Performing Rights Department. (Photo: Sebastian Vollmert)

The Swiss apparently love concerts and festivals. Every year new festivals are founded and are taking place even in remote areas in the mountains. Some disappear again after a short time, others can look back on a long tradition of 40 years or more. There is also a wide range of alternative music clubs...read more

This beating heart

On Tuesday, 25 October 2016, in the evening, his heart stopped beating: Pädu Anliker, the “Master of Ceremony” in the Café/Bar Mokka Thun was 59 years old. For over 30 years, Beat “Pädu” Anliker shaped the venue which started out as a youth centre at the Waisenhausplatz and became one of the most renowned music clubs on Allmendstrasse in Switzerland. Obituary by guest author Christoph Trummer

This beating heart - Obituary Pädu Anliker

Under the leadership of the “Master of Ceremony”, an important concert venue was created in the form of the Café/Bar Mokka in Thun: Pädu Anliker shown in a photo taken on 07 April 2015. (Photo: Chris Iseli / az Aargauer Zeitung)

Since Pädu Anliker’s passing on became known, a wave of emotional obituaries and remembrances of the MC and his incomparable club swept through the internet. The music scene became one family: We have lost our extravagant and controversial favourite uncle. He never cozied up to us, sometimes he scared us, but his incessant work, his cordial hospitality and his confusing and fascinating authenticity were proof enough for how strongly and wildly his heart was beating for us and for the music. Against all the odds, his culture programme never had to make place for a more lucrative party, and with his Festival am Schluss, he placed relevant and often non-conformist music into the middle of a conservative summer in the city.

I was 15 when our band had its first gig outside a school hall during the Mokka-Regionaltonwoche (Mokka regional sound week). 12 years after my first performance there, many Mokka concerts later, I have received my first compliment from MC Anliker. This is how long I was given another chance. Me and so many other musicians from the Oberland, whom he provided with time, a stage and critical input for their development.

Yet Pädu’s Mokka was more than just a music club to us. Generations of people from the Oberland region with a lust for life found a home in this youth centre which was independent from the authorities. The MC influenced the education of our hearts: He was the living proof for self-fulfilment as self-development. “Respect” was written across the entrance. Quiet, when the band is playing! Stop smoking seeds! He argued that 80 Francs for fresh flowers provided a bigger de-escalation than 800 Francs for security.

When it came to his customers and his city, he also never cozied up to anyone. In his legendary programme forewords, he sometimes raged against “3,600 fuckthistown-Thun”, against a consumption-driven audience, without regard for the bourgeois orthography or current marketing rules, which is why we feared as long as 20 years ago that he might stop doing his thing.

But he didn’t. The MC, you could say, simply worked with an open valve. You just had to be prepared for that, even as a performing band. He once swore for a quarter of an hour about the fact that we didn’t just want to use the drums with two microphones, yet at the end of those 15 minutes, everything was miked up. After a great gig we sat backstage, holding a rather relaxed discussion about the types of potatoes in Switzerland. Later on, his eyes lit up when he pulled out a box with flyers and tapes showing us how the entire music prominence from the Oberland had, at some point in time, started their career in some giddy band with an awful name in the Mokka.

Even the city of Thun has made peace with its inconvenient original: On 1 November, MC Anliker would have been awarded the Thunpreis (Award of the city of Thun). And while we will continue to wish he was still there, his heart will keep beating, in his unique club, in our hearts and our music, for which he did so much and where his work left such deep marks. Thank you MC! Respect.

Beat “Pädu” Anliker shaped the Lokal Café/Bar Mokka in Thun (BE) for more than 30 years, throughout its transformation from a youth centre at the Waisenhausplatz to one of the most renowned music clubs on Allmendstrasse in Switzerland. Anliker, with his flamboyant make-up and his glamorous-unconventional fashion was also a city original of Thun. Thousands of national and international bands have played in the Mokka, and some chose Pädu as their event organiser for Thun, when the club had become far too small for them (Element Of Crime, ZüriWest, Patent Ochsner etc.). Over the last 11 years, he has also organised the Festival am Schluss on the Mühleplatz, where bands from all over the world performed for two weeks, from African desert blues to Swiss-German hip hop. Beat Anliker died at the age of 59 because of a cardiac arrest on 25 October 2016. On 1 November 2016, he will be awarded posthumously with the Thunpreis, the most important award granted by the city of Thun.

Guest author Christoph Trummer was born in 1978 and grew up in Frutigen (BE). He has been a member of SUISA since 2002. The singer-songwriter is, apart from his musical activities, also President of the Verein Musikschaffende Schweiz – the Association for creatives in Switzerland.

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  1. Waedi Gysi says:

    Merssiviumal Trummer!
    Schöner Text!

Leave a Reply

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.

Your email address will not be published.

On Tuesday, 25 October 2016, in the evening, his heart stopped beating: Pädu Anliker, the “Master of Ceremony” in the Café/Bar Mokka Thun was 59 years old. For over 30 years, Beat “Pädu” Anliker shaped the venue which started out as a youth centre at the Waisenhausplatz and became one of the most renowned music clubs on Allmendstrasse in Switzerland. Obituary by guest author Christoph Trummer

This beating heart - Obituary Pädu Anliker

Under the leadership of the “Master of Ceremony”, an important concert venue was created in the form of the Café/Bar Mokka in Thun: Pädu Anliker shown in a photo taken on 07 April 2015. (Photo: Chris Iseli / az Aargauer Zeitung)

Since Pädu Anliker’s passing on became known, a wave of emotional obituaries and remembrances of the MC and his incomparable club swept through the internet. The...read more