Tag Archives: Concert organiser

Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partners

At a round table discussion, Christoph Bill and Alexander Bücheli, two representatives of SUISA customers from the promoter and event organising sector, and Irène Philipp Ziebold, SUISA COO, spoke about crisis management during the pandemic. Cooperation with SUISA was also a topic. Presentation and transcript: Markus Ganz, guest author

Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partners

Round table discussion with Christoph Bill (Heitere Events AG and President SMPA [Swiss Music Promoters Association]), Irène Philipp Ziebold (SUISA COO) and Alexander Bücheli (Managing Director Bar & Club Commission Zurich). (Photos: Manu Leuenberger)

How have you and the companies you represent experienced the COVID-19 crisis so far?

Christoph Bill: As president of the industry association SMPA, I believe it caught all our members on the wrong foot; we were not prepared for such a scenario. But we reacted relatively quickly as an industry, got together, defined immediate measures (e.g. regarding tickets in the event of postponements and cancellations) and continuously discussed the next steps. The rest is history.
Alexander Bücheli: We were also caught on the wrong foot; these were simply conditions and situations that could not be foreseen, let alone anticipated. After that, the associations gained importance for their members; with us, they specifically gained an important function of translating civil servants’ German into the language of our members. Another, moral component occurred in our case: In the pandemic, we realised that we are considered a fun society, that parties have a different reputation compared to festivals or concerts. After the incidents in Ischgl in March 2020, we were made to feel that without us, COVID-19 would not exist; this was also emotionally difficult for our members. And, against this moral question, we are afraid again now that the case numbers are on the rise again: Will there be a call for club closures again?
Irène Philipp Ziebold: Recent times have also been challenging for SUISA. On both sides that we serve, namely that of our members (authorsand publishers) and that of our customers (music users), revenues have declined very quickly and sharply in certain markets. One segment of revenues was hit hard where we had not expected such a decline: in the performing rights, where collections had been rising steadily in recent years, especially in the concert sector, while they had been declining for years in the reproduction sector. As a consequence, we were not prepared for that and could not simply compensate for this with other revenues.
The new situation has also challenged us greatly in providing our services, especially when it comes to giving advice and counsel. But it has also brought about positive sides. Firstly, it showed us that we can see ourselves as a partner to our members and customers, because we acted relatively quickly and took action. And secondly, from an internal perspective: Within two weeks, 90 percent of our employees were working from their home offices. In the process, we also realised that we are technologically capable of continuing to run the company with around 250 employees by working remotely. The changeover was more difficult on a human level, the social element, which has a dynamic effect even in such a large company, and which fell away from one day to the next.

Were there no emergency scenarios in case everything was closing?

Christoph Bill: I have often wondered if we should not have made our members aware of such a potential risk. But such a scenario was very far away, even if it appeared in a few contingency plans. I have also accused myself of this from time to time, but what would we have done differently? We reacted immediately and got involved as an industry in a straightforward manner. By that I don’t just mean the SMPA, in fact we have managed to give a voice to the culture and events industry as a whole. This is a great advantage on the political and media level, and we should have done this a long time ago, now it has just triggered the pandemic. And it turns out that despite the breadth of culture represented, we have a lot of common denominators.

Insurance and streamed concerts

Mr. Bücheli, in the club scene, there have been problems on a small scale for years, such as threatened closures because of drugs and noise complaints – that’s why the Bar & Club Commission Zurich was founded …

Alexander Bücheli: Yes, but the pandemic is a whole different problem because you can’t get a defence counsel against it like you do with noise complaints. And that’s what’s so extreme about it: You just have to grin and bear it. For example, we tried to learn something (regarding virus transmission in bars and clubs) by sending inquiries to the Science Taskforce but to no avail. None of the businesses had contingency plans, but 80 to 90 percent had epidemic or pandemic insurance, but many insurers dodged paying. In Zurich, we were fortunate that many members had participated in a pool solution that covered the pandemic period, even twice: the second lockdown was considered a second claim. This type of insurance was, however, cancelled then by the insurance companies at the end of 2021 – and no longer exists.
We also had no alternatives to just closing like the restaurants: We were not able to offer take-away club nights. We did organise the virtual club festival “Limmatstream” in March 2021, where people could dance through the clubs as avatars. This attracted over 3,000 participants and you could also do video chats with other avatars there. That was kind of great, but couldn’t replace a real club experience. In addition, there was the question of whether people would have been willing to pay 10 to 15 francs for such a virtual experience, which you would need, as an organiser, to get by financially; we offered it for free.
Christoph Bill: Regarding the insurance issue: With our members, it was exactly the other way around; at most, 20 percent had insurance and they usually paid up. But if we look back, the beginning of the pandemic was actually easier because there was a clear ban on major events. As early as at the end of April 2020, we knew that the “Heitere” festival could not take place in August, which is a comfortable situation for organisers in terms of time. All colleagues knew at that time that they would have to postpone their events within a certain period of time. This means a huge effort, but there was a lot of understanding from all sides. Things did, however, get difficult after that, when waiting times for specifications for the subsequent periods were long and there were no clear requirements and information, or they differed from canton to canton. Accordingly, we had to plan at shorter notice and taking different scenarios into account.

Alienation from practice and lack of planability

Alexander Bücheli: This is an important point: There was no clear announcement by the Federal Government. Once you know whether you can remain open or have to close, then you can adapt accordingly. We still had an intermediate phase during which the Zurich cantonal government said you shouldn’t go dancing any more, that the clubs should actually be closed, but they didn’t give us the directive to close. The moral pressure became so great as we had never experienced before; there were even anonymous insults and threats.
Christoph Bill: At that time, I also noticed a lack of practical experience on the part of the authorities, and for a long time also a lack of willingness to engage in dialogue. We also approached many agencies, but they passed the buck to each other and nothing came back to us, it would have been better if they had involved us for comprehensible, practical measures with some lead time. It took so long before we were able to talk to people from the Federal Office of Public Health for the first time! After all, we are the last ones who want to pull off an event at any cost. But we have to have support from the authorities so that we can say in time that an event has to be cancelled or postponed. Roll-over planning out to three months would have been ideal for us. You might be able to open a club from one week to the next, but for a big concert or a festival, you do need this lead time.

So by banning events, you could more or less adjust to a situation. Did this lead to short-time work, lay-offs or even bankruptcies?

Christoph Bill: There has not been a single bankruptcy among our members so far. The aid packages worked quickly and well; we also expressed our thanks for them. But the problems are far from over: Demand is still subdued, for example, and supports are being cut and we are lacking skilled workers. That’s why I’m not so confident in the short term; the moment of truth is yet to come.

Rapid assistance and few redundancies

Alexander Bücheli: The speed of Covid loans and short-time work support: That was very important for us, also how unbureaucratic the process was how it was allocated- a key experience. With regard to the so-called “A-fonds-perdu” money [loans which the lender writes off as bad debt and do not have to be paid back], which is important for survival, it must be said, however, that it took six to eight months before the first amounts were paid out; moreover, they were only compensations for cultural enterprises. We had to do a lot to ensure that clubs were also recognised and compensated as cultural enterprises – and this only succeeded in certain cantons. Businesses that then received hardship funds had to wait over a year for assistance.
Christoph Bill: The cantonal differences in interpretation were also a problem among our members, and continue to be that to this day. Instruments that are in themselves effective, such as the current protective shield for public events, have not been introduced at all in some cantons and are applied very differently in many others. The reserves that you have built up over 20 or 30 years in a business with very thin margins are used up pretty soon. After all, the response to short-time work was very quick and unbureaucratic.
Alexander Bücheli: There were only a few redundancies in our space. It was more like employees were asking to be made redundant because they wanted to work in a different sector. Bankruptcies occurred in companies that were already not doing so well, or those that had just entered the market. Thanks to private and company reserves, there were few bankruptcies.

There have been much fewer concerts in the last 20 months, so one could assume that there was also much less to do at SUISA …

Irène Philipp Ziebold: No dismissals occurred at our company because of COVID-19. In cases where we no longer replaced people, it was for general reasons, mainly because we can automate many simple jobs, that is, replace them with computers. But there was talk about short-time work, precisely with the argumentation of the cancelled concerts. We then took a close look at this. The membership and documentation department as well as the customer service for the media and online area were hit less hard by COVID-19 and we had more work there because many people sought advice and we also set up an emergency fund.
Only the customer service for the performing rights or events had less to do. This provided an opportunity to work through backlogs and staff could be deployed in other departments, such as online, where more work was required due to COVID-19. That’s why we didn’t have to lay anyone off or put them on short-time work contracts because of COVID-19. And if you look at the 2020 operating result, we also achieved a relatively good result in this crisis.

Emergency budget and additional work

Does this also have to do with the fact that SUISA worked with an emergency budget that was adjusted on a rolling basis?

Irène Philipp Ziebold: Absolutely. The Board wanted to know where the journey was headed: Can we reduce costs at the same rate our collections are collapsing? This would only have been possible with a massive reduction in staff. We knew, however, that if we laid people off, they would be missing on day X when business returned to normal. A great deal of expertise needed for these tasks would no longer be available; new employees always need a certain training period. It would therefore have been negligent to lay off many people in such a situation.

How much extra work do organisers have to do due to ever-changing COVID-19 regulations?

Christoph Bill: It is an unbelievable level of additional work that the members of the SMPA have to do because of this, I can also say that from personal experience from the “Heitere” festival. Developing and adapting a number of scenarios, obtaining, negotiating and implementing the permit from the health authorities, drawing up and implementing the precautionary measures, safeguarding against risks, dealing with uncertainty and keeping everyone involved at it was and remains an enormous amount of work for an event organiser, not to mention the additional expenses on site for infrastructure and personnel. At the “Heitere”, we launched a virtual festival in 2021 in addition to the on-site edition, which was a valuable experience, but at the same time also an enormous effort.

What is the situation in neighbouring sectors, such as technicians and security?

Christoph Bill: The shortage of skilled workers is likely to become an increasing problem, on the one hand due to lay-offs that some companies had to announce despite everything. On the other hand, more and more people from these sectors are orienting themselves differently the longer the crisis lasts, even if you would like to keep them. And those who are now working as electricians, for example, will wait a while before returning to the audio engineering profession; they may also have come to appreciate the more regulated working hours.
If anything, the need will be even greater than before, because our members have postponed many events until 2022; this will give a big ramp up of demand at certain times, because the postponed and new events will come together. You have to manage that somehow. And someone has to buy these tickets.
Alexander Bücheli: Early 2022 will be crucial for us, depending also on how pre-Christmas business will fare with corporate events, which in some companies can account for 30 to 50 percent of annual sales.

A single voice and rapid response

How important was it that various associations got together early on to have a single voice, especially with the federal government?

Christoph Bill: That was absolutely crucial. Even though there was no real dialogue for a long time, many of our messages got through faster than we felt they did. What was implemented was largely in the right direction. It was important to bring together the voices from the cultural and event sectors instead of rushing forward individually. It is enormously important, especially for politicians, that they are not bombarded with statements from all sides, but that there is a lowest common denominator – that is what we have always been looking for. As an association, we suddenly played a bigger and more visible role. We have already created a climate of openness and togetherness over the last six to ten years. We were able to build on that.

How has SUISA’s position changed during this time of crisis?

Irène Philipp Ziebold: On the side of our members and publishers, we were strengthened because we were there for them and did not disappear into short-time work. Advice and counsel were immensely important to the members. We continued to do our job to generate money – the 2020 financial statements show that we did not do badly. We have also created an emergency fund, where we are still a bit more pragmatic, especially in contrast to certain federal support measures. We are neither superficial nor negligent, but we ask for less information and can therefore provide certain support more quickly. We have also changed our advance payment rules, made them more generous, but always weighing up the risk. We also have a Pension Fund for authors and publishers that provides support as well. In other words, we acted, and this has once again strengthened our standing among our members.

And among the customers?

Irène Philipp Ziebold: There, too, we reacted very quickly and also took measures that we would not have had to take, such as extending payment deadlines and suspending reminders. We were quite agile and acted in a cooperative way on that. This has brought us a lot of goodwill.

And what about one single voice?

Irène Philipp Ziebold: Here I can refer to the Swiss Music Council. As its member, we are well represented in the “Taskforce Culture”. For the first time, organisers and members have come to the same table with the same demand with a single voice, so to speak, and this has also worked well with politics. The “Taskforce Culture” was able to exert a certain influence and was involved in discussions with Federal Councillor Berset. It was and remains a success that should be carried forward.

Uncomplicated solutions and delayed normalisation

How do the organisers rate the crisis cooperation with SUISA?

Christoph Bill: Even if it has affected SMPA members less, SUISA has found quick and straightforward solutions in some areas. Thank you, my compliments! The dialogue with us as an association was already good before, but it got even better. We felt there was an awareness of being in the same boat. And it also became clear that the future can only be mastered together and that perhaps new paths must be followed.
Alexander Bücheli: It was a bit like the “Taskforce Culture”. We wrote to SUISA at the beginning because we have the problem that clubs pay invoices on a quarterly basis and not on the basis of events that take place. SUISA has found a very straightforward solution for which we are very grateful. Regardless of COVID-19, we should increasingly try to understand each other and also meet [face to face]. And it’s a good sign that none of our members have complained to me about SUISA since the pandemic, so it’s working.

What are the expectations for normalisation of the situation, has there been a pent-up need among the public for events?

Christoph Bill: This still feels like looking into the crystal ball for me. No, I don’t think there’s a lot that has been pent up there. Many people will only slowly and hesitantly return to concerts and festivals. This is reflected in the fact that, with a few exceptions, demand for our members’ events is 20 to 30 percent lower than usual and that a higher proportion of guests who have a ticket do not show up. This delay must be considered in addition to the lead time required for organising the events: We are trying to get live operations going again. But we can’t just pull the lever. This will probably also require start-up support and instruments such as SUISA continuing to extend payment deadlines.

The roundtable discussion was held on 12 November 2021. The participants were: Christoph Bill, Heitere Events AG and SMPA President(Swiss Music Promoters Association); Alexander Bücheli, Managing Director Bar & Club Commission Zurich; Irène Philipp Ziebold, SUISA COO and Vice President Swiss Music Council.

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At a round table discussion, Christoph Bill and Alexander Bücheli, two representatives of SUISA customers from the promoter and event organising sector, and Irène Philipp Ziebold, SUISA COO, spoke about crisis management during the pandemic. Cooperation with SUISA was also a topic. Presentation and transcript: Markus Ganz, guest author

Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partners

Round table discussion with Christoph Bill (Heitere Events AG and President SMPA [Swiss Music Promoters Association]), Irène Philipp Ziebold (SUISA COO) and Alexander Bücheli (Managing Director Bar & Club Commission Zurich). (Photos: Manu Leuenberger)

How have you and the companies you represent experienced the COVID-19 crisis so far?

Christoph Bill: As president of the industry association SMPA, I believe it caught all our members on the wrong foot; we were not prepared for such a scenario. But we reacted relatively quickly as an industry, got together,...read more

Livestream licensing by SUISA

Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought in revenues of USD 44m.

These online events regularly fuel debate in the media, as well as between music creators and, naturally, the organisers of livestreaming events. More often than not, discussions revolve around the licensing terms and conditions for the necessary livestreaming rights.

What is a livestream?

A livestream is an event that is aired individually and in real time over the internet. The audience can log in at the start of the event and follow the event live – for free or for a fee. Livestreams should be distinguished from on-demand offers where spectators can choose to view the content at the time of their choice. Moreover, a livestream is not a broadcast, where contents are also transmitted in real time, but as programmes in a succession of broadcasts and not as individual events. A livestreaming licence is required for any individual event that is simultaneously recorded and streamed over the internet where the audience cannot freely choose when to view it.

Livestream licensing conditions are based on performance tariffs

Since streamed events are generally events that could just as well be staged live in the presence of an audience or performed by way of replacement for such events, the licensing terms are based on the terms and conditions of the relevant performance tariffs. Accordingly, the same percentage rate will apply to a streamed concert as that applied to a concert performed with a physical audience under Common Tariff K (CT K). Proceeding by analogy with the performance tariffs ensures that organisers of virtual and physical concerts are treated on an equal footing since their events tend to be reciprocal substitutes.

Licensing conditions distinguish between different categories: concerts, DJ sets, shows and ballet performances, and theatrical plays. The relevant rate is applied to revenues or costs as provided in the performance tariffs (CT K and CT Hb). Also in accordance with the latter, rates are adjusted proportionately with the duration of the protected music used (pro rata temporis rule). In addition to these categories, other classes of events, such as sports events, evening entertainment, seminars, religious services, events in homes and hospitals, etc. are grouped under “other events” – in this case, a flat rate of 2% of gross revenues or costs is applied.

If revenues are less than the gross cost, or if there are no revenues, the above rates are applied to total costs. As in the case of the performance tariffs, music-related gross costs are deducted. These costs consist of the following: musicians’ fees and expenses, rental of sound and recording equipment (microphones, mixing console, camera, etc.), instrument rental, and rent for the location.

Events with an audience that are additionally streamed

Live events are often staged with a small physical audience and simultaneously aired over the internet to extend their reach. In such cases, the organiser will need a “normal” licence for the performance rights and an additional licence for the livestream. As a rule, this means that, in addition to the fees charged under the performance tariff, the minimum fee CHF 40 will be charged for the livestream, since the revenues or costs of the event are already taken into account in the performance licensing fee. However, if the livestream generates separate revenues, the licence fees for the livestream will be charged on that basis.

Viewing streams after the live event

Many livestream organisers leave recordings of the stream on the internet for a certain period time after the live event; these recordings can be subsequently called up and viewed by people who missed the livestream at the official time. Provided the livestream was properly declared and licensed, SUISA allows it to be stored for subsequent viewing for a flat fee of CHF 100 in the case of concerts and DJ sets – for all other types of events the flat fee is CHF 50.

What rights are covered by the licence?

For organisers established in Switzerland or Liechtenstein whose streams are primarily intended for a domestic (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) audience, SUISA can licence the rights for the world repertoire. In the case of international organisers whose streams are intended for audiences including Switzerland and Liechtenstein, SUISA can licence the world repertoire for uses in our territory; in this case, the licence fees will be calculated only on the basis of the sales realised in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In the livestream area, SUISA only manages authors’ musical copyrights. For all other rights, e.g. neighbouring rights or synchronisation rights, users should contact the relevant rightholders.

Livestreams with music must be registered with SUISA

Please refer to our website for the licensing terms and conditions, application form, and further information about livestreams:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/online/video/live-streams.html

To complete your application, the following information is required:

  • customer’s contact particulars
  • category of the livestream
  • livestream particulars title, duration, date, website URL, number of views
  • total revenues
  • (gross) costs
  • Will the event be recorded and stored for subsequent viewing? (yes/no)
  • list of musical works contained in the livestream

A licence is also required for livestreams produced via an external platform and embedded on your own website (e.g. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Youtube Live or Twitch).

The rules governing current temporary exceptions in the livestream area proceeding from federal measures to combat the corona pandemic are also published on our website:
www.suisa.ch/en/suisa/measures-corona-pandemic/information-for-customers.html

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Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought...read more

Musikexport – quo vadis?

Covid-19, digitisation, climate crisis: Musikexport in extraordinary times. Experiences and thoughts on the subject by Marcel Kaufmann, responsible at FONDATION SUISA for its presence abroad and the export promotion.

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

Will there ever be a back to “normal” times? The Swiss joint exhibition stand at the jazzahead! Bremen 2019. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Since the internet revolution of the 90ies, the value creation on the music market shifted to a large part towards the live sector. Concerts became the most important income stream for many musicians. One of the consequences was that numerous showcase events were launched. Artists could perform in front of international experts during short live concerts. This was done in the hope that they would get bookings in bigger clubs or festivals or taken under contract by international agencies. Together with various partners, the FONDATION SUISA supports the export endeavours of the domestic creators. For many years, the foundation organises Swiss networking platforms at international conferences and events.

This well-functioning system of travel, performances and shaking hands was brought to an abrupt halt by the pandemic. It was more or less overnight that music creators lost a large portion of their income, and at the same time also their export paths.

What now? How can they bridge this period? And what would happen if the “normality” we all love so much is never to return?

FONDATION SUISA took part in many pilot projects last year, tested chat tools, supported showcase videos via streams and negotiated potential new subsidising avenues with event organisers and promoters. “An interesting experience”, “a welcome transitional solution”, but surely “no surrogate for a real live performance”: This is our verdict at the end of 2020, in conformity with a large group of music creators and event organisers.

“Networking via the internet is, to many, still a very strange concept.”

The pandemic entailed cancellations of practically all physical face-to-face music conferences and exhibitions in 2020. Some, like Midem or WOMEX tried to hold virtual events. Back then, the planning insecurity was still too high. It was impossible to even consider being able to organise concerts again in the near future. In line with this, promoters booked much less artists during such online events than for physical events with a face-to-face audience. The ambiance of a live concerts can also not be recreated on a 1:1 level. And networking via the internet is, to many, still a very strange concept.

The most recent virtually held jazzahead! in Bremen confirmed these findings to a large degree. Ok, so it was easier to establish contact among those accredited for participation via the internet than on heaving exhibition grounds. In the absence of a collective feeling, however, you soon turn into a lone fighter. The real success of the Swiss presence at the biggest jazz conference in the world this year will only emerge in a few weeks and after surveys and conversations. In the past, it was possible to draw conclusions on the last day of the conference.

The two Swiss live acts in the official showcase programme of the jazzahead! chose different approaches: The formation The True Harry Nulz performed live in Bremen in front of a handful of journalists which at least applauded after each song which could be heard in the live stream. The showcase of the Luzia von Wyl Ensemble, however, had been pre-produced without an audience in the Moods in Zurich and then streamed. The silence between the pieces and the lack of feedback leave the performers in a vacuum.

“We must constantly create new scenarios, remain open and critically assess our own impressions.”

Now that in the face of the vaccination campaigns there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel again, it would be easy to fall into a state of hopeful anticipation and do away with the online world as a pure temporary solution. In a time, however, where our entire work life is significantly changed by the digitisation, many questions arise: Is there possibly more export potential in the online world as previously assumed? Can we even afford the old “normal” in times of a global climate crisis which will survive each pandemic? A crisis which is going to have a lasting effect on generations of future music creators and take many opportunities away from them?

There are still no conclusive answers to all of these questions. The most important developments do not take place online but in our heads. And these developments take more time than the technological ones. Until then, we must constantly create new scenarios, remain open and critically assess our own impressions. The most important factor is: listen to the music creators. Because their art must find its way across the country borders, also in the future. For them, FONDATION SUISA will continue to actively monitor and influence the developments in the music export world.

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Covid-19, digitisation, climate crisis: Musikexport in extraordinary times. Experiences and thoughts on the subject by Marcel Kaufmann, responsible at FONDATION SUISA for its presence abroad and the export promotion.

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

Will there ever be a back to “normal” times? The Swiss joint exhibition stand at the jazzahead! Bremen 2019. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Since the internet revolution of the 90ies, the value creation on the music market shifted to a large part towards the live sector. Concerts became the most important income stream for many musicians. One of the consequences was that numerous showcase events were launched. Artists could perform in front of international experts during short live concerts. This was done in the hope that they would get bookings in bigger clubs or festivals or taken under contract by international agencies. Together with various partners, the...read more

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

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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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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.

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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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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.

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