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How much copyright remuneration does a concert organiser have to pay?

This is a question that many ask: How much is the copyright fee for concerts? The reply is of interest to both customers and members of SUISA: Concert organisers plan copyright remuneration in their favour into the budgets for their events. SUISA members can calculate their income up front once they know the rules of thumb for the concert remuneration. Text by Chantal Bolzern

How much copyright remuneration does a concert organiser have to pay?

Concert event in the Zurich Hallenstadion: With a capacity from 1,000 people upwards or ticket sales of more than CHF 15,000 gross, the tariff for major concerts applies. (Photo: Marcel Grubenmann)

How much a concert organiser has to pay in terms of copyright remuneration depends on different factors: The size of the concert, number of concerts held per year, association membership, potential rebates etc. An exact amount cannot be predicted in detail without any individual information being provided first. There are, however, some rules of thumb depending on the size of the event.

Small concerts

A concert event is considered to be a small concert and is licensed on the basis of the Common Tariff Kb (CT Kb) as long as the capacity of the club or the area is no more than 999 people and no more than CHF 15,000 ticket sales gross.

For such small concerts, the organiser should budget 9.5% of the ticket sales as the maximum for the copyright remuneration to be invoiced by SUISA. The percentage goes down to 3.5% if more than half of the music played during the concert stems from composers who have been dead for more than 70 years or are not affiliated with any collective management organisation.

The organiser may also benefit from a volume discount if it has entered into an agreement with SUISA. The volume discount can range from 5% to 20% if the event organiser has carried out more than 10 concerts in the previous year. Furthermore, it receives an additional rebate of 10% if it belongs to an association of concert organisers such as SMPA or PETZI.

All in all, an organiser may thus get up to 30% discount if it fulfils all of the contractual provisions. This means specifically that the licence rate for small concerts can be reduced from 9.5% to 6.65%. Finally, a concert organiser has the right to be subject to a 2% cash discount if it has paid the last SUISA invoice within 10 days.

Small concert – simplified calculation example

Concert in a club – 400 people capacity – 350 sold tickets @ CHF 23.00.

Ticket income 350 x CHF 23.00 CHF 8,050.00
Licence base 6.65%, maximum discount (30%) CHF 535.30
– 2% discount (of CHF 535.30) CHF 10.70
= Copyright remuneration CHF 524.60

Major concerts

If organisers carry out a major concert, the licence fee will be calculated based on Common Tariff Ka (CT Ka). Major concerts are considered to be concerts in venues or on areas with a minimum capacity of 1,000 people or for which the organiser has achieved ticket sales of more than CHF 15,000 gross.

In such cases, the organiser should budget a maximum of 10% of the gross income from ticket sales for the copyright remuneration to be invoiced by SUISA. The organiser of a major concert can – as long as it provides all relevant receipts – claim certain deductions from the gross income; for example, any train tickets included in the ticket price, access to the camping grounds and similar expenditure. It can also deduct a lump sum of 10% for pre-sales office costs.

The major concert organiser may also benefit from various rebates as long as it has entered into an agreement with SUISA and sticks to the conditions. It shall receive a volume discount between 5% and 10% if it had organised more than 10 concerts in the previous year. Depending on the capacity of the event venue, the rebate may range from 5% to 15%. Just like with small concerts, there is also a 10% association rebate for major concerts.

As a consequence, organisers of major concerts can benefit of a discount of up to 35% which means that the licence rate can go down from 10% to 6.5%. The 2% discount is also applicable to major concerts if the organiser has paid the last SUISA invoice within 10 days.

Major concert – simplified calculation example

Open Air concert – 11,000 people capacity – 9,985 sold tickets @ CHF 110.00.

Ticket income 9,985 x CHF 110.00 CHF 1,098,350.00
– 10% cost external pre-sales office (CT Ka item 29) CHF 109,835.00
– cost for the public transport in the ticket (CT Ka item 11) CHF 29,995.00
= subtotal CHF 958,520.00
Licence basis 6.5%, maximum discount (35%) CHF 62,303.80
– 2% discount (of CHF 62,303.80) CHF 1,246.10
= Copyright remuneration CHF 61,057.70

Additional remuneration for interval music

The following shall apply to small concerts and major concerts alike: Should music recordings be played during the concerts e.g. as interval music, the organiser will have to pay a remuneration for neighbouring rights. Information on this is available within tariffs CT Ka and CT Kb as well as on Swissperform’s website.

Additional information: tariffs, fact sheets, forms etc.

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  1. Comment cela se passe-t-il si l’on joue mes compositions, que je dirige?
    Merci pour votre réponse.
    Monique Buunk (Nom d’auteur: Monique Droz)

    • Manu Leuenberger says:

      Chère Madame,

      Merci pour votre commentaire. Lorsque des oeuvres sont exécutées en public, des droits d’auteur sont dus, quelque soit l’interprète ou la personne dirigeant l’exécution. C’est l’organisateur d’un concert qui est en charge des droits d’auteur. Il peut arriver que l’auteur soit organisateur de son propre concert. Dans ce cas, des règles particulières s’appliquent. Pour plus d’informations, nous vous invitons à contacter directement notre service clientèle.

      Meilleures salutations
      Manu Leuenberger, SUISA Communication

  2. Frédéric says:

    Vous n’avez rien indiqué pour le cas où le concert porte uniquement sur de la musique non protégée (typiquement musique classique); dans un tel cas, la redevance est logiquement nulle ?

    • Manu Leuenberger says:

      Bonjour Frédéric,
      Merci beaucoup pour le commentaire.
      SUISA n’établit des factures que pour la musique pour laquelle elle représente les droits. Si par exemple, dans un cas donné, tous les compositeurs et arrangeurs sont décédés depuis plus de 70 ans, SUISA n’enverra pas de facture.
      Le genre de musique ne dit rien sur la question de savoir si la musique est encore protégée ou non. Dans la musique classique, de nombreuses œuvres arrangées sont jouées, et l’arrangeur en question est peut-être encore vivant. Dans ces conditions, l’organisateur doit après chaque concert envoyer à SUISA la liste des œuvres exécutées avec des indications sur les compositeurs et les arrangeurs (si certaines œuvres jouées n’étaient pas des œuvres originales). SUISA examine si elle représente les droits ou non.
      Les détails concernant les tarifs peuvent être trouvés dans les textes des tarifs ou demandés à la Division Clients de SUISA.
      Manu Leuenberger, Communication SUISA

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This is a question that many ask: How much is the copyright fee for concerts? The reply is of interest to both customers and members of SUISA: Concert organisers plan copyright remuneration in their favour into the budgets for their events. SUISA members can calculate their income up front once they know the rules of thumb for the concert remuneration. Text by Chantal Bolzern

How much copyright remuneration does a concert organiser have to pay?

Concert event in the Zurich Hallenstadion: With a capacity from 1,000 people upwards or ticket sales of more than CHF 15,000 gross, the tariff for major concerts applies. (Photo: Marcel Grubenmann)

How much a concert organiser has to pay in terms of copyright remuneration depends on different factors: The size of the concert, number of concerts held per year, association membership, potential rebates etc. An exact amount cannot be...read more

If bands and event promoters organise a concert together

The event organiser of a concert has to pay the copyright licence fee. How does it affect the legal situation, if musicians and organisers jointly run the performance by way of a cooperation? Text by Fabian Niggemeier and Manu Leuenberger

If bands and event promoters organise a concert together

Excited concert club audience. The concert organiser is responsible for paying the copyright licence fee. (Photo: Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com)

The concert organiser is responsible for paying the copyright licence fee in the case of artist engagement agreements. More information on this fundamental principle and relevant legal aspects is included in the article “Artist engagement contract: Does the artist have to pay SUISA a licence fee?” from the members’ magazine SUISAinfo 1.12 (Article as PDF, in German).

It occurs that events are organised by the bands themselves or in cooperation with third parties. In such cases, the type of cooperation between the band and the organiser determines who has to pay the copyright licence fee.

Types of cooperation between artists and event organisers

In the case of jointly organised events, a distinction between two types has to be made from a legal perspective. The musician can rent a venue (Art. 253 ff. OR, Swiss Code of Obligations). Alternatively, the musician can enter some form of cooperation with an event organiser – in most cases, a concert venue.

Renting a venue

Bands or musicians can rent an event space, e.g. a concert venue, and organise the event themselves. The musician and the landlord of the concert venue enter into a rental agreement. The landlord lets the event space to the band for an amount which has been previously stipulated for the agreed use. The rental price includes the entire space, including the bar. The entire financial risk for the event lies with the musician. This means: He or she sells the tickets, executes the advertising campaign and runs the bar.

In other words: If a landlord lets a venue to a band against payment, but without the financial participation of the landlord being dependent on the success of the event, a rental agreement is deemed to be in effect.

But beware: As soon as the landlord participates in the income from the bar or the sales of the tickets, it is no longer deemed to be a rent but a cooperation in legal terms. While the agreement might well be called “rental agreement”, the title of the agreement does not really matter: For the purposes of its legal classification, the intention of the parties is the exclusive decisive factor (Art. 18 para 1 OR).

Cooperation

Musicians or bands often obtain agreements with the titles “artist engagement contract” or “rental agreement”, and contains the following or other similar provisions: The band does not receive a fixed payment, but the income generated by ticket sales, while the landlord runs the bar and keeps the respective proceeds.

In the case of such a cooperation the success for both partners fundamentally depends on the audience numbers attending the event. The landlord can only cover the costs for the venue and the bar staff if many people consume a lot at the bar. The musician’s pay is directly linked to the number of tickets sold.

The financial success for both cooperation partners therefore directly depends on the financial success of the event. In such a case a statutory provision (Art. 530 para 1 OR) shall apply, stating that a contractual relationship where two or more persons agree to combine their efforts or resources in order to achieve a common goal constitutes a simple partnership!

In other words: By means of this type of cooperation, a simple partnership has been created between the musician and the landlord. This entails some ramifications from a legal point of view: For example, all partners have a joint and several liability in a simple partnership, regardless of the kind or size of their contribution (Art. 544 para. 3 OR).

Based on the rules of joint and several liability, a creditor may choose from which debtor, resp. partner they wish to collect the relevant part of the receivables. If you are a creditor, you can thus choose whether you collect 100% of the outstanding receivables from partner A or e.g. 70% from partner A and 30% from partner B. In most cases, however, creditors tend to resort to only one debtor – usually the debtor with the highest ability to pay.

Due to this fact, it often happens in relation to simple partnerships that a single partner has to pay for the entire claim. This happens even though all partners are jointly liable in equal parts for the debts. One of the provisions for the joint liability (Art. 148 para. 2 OR), however, reads as follows: If a joint and several debtor who pays more than his fair share, he has recourse against the others for the excess.

Consequences for copyright licence fees

The two types of cooperation described above for concert events influence who is responsible for paying the copyright licence fees and how the relevant claims are managed by SUISA.

Renting a venue

In the case of a pure rental agreement, an event space is made available to musicians and they become organisers themselves. As organisers, musicians have to acquire all authorisations from the authorities and also the necessary licences for the use of music. This means: Musicians must notify SUISA of the concert and pay the relevant copyright licence fees for it.

There are two conditions both of which have to be met so that no fees have to be paid to SUISA: The musician(s) is/are the only involved author(s) of all of the performed works, and there are no publishers for any of the works.

Simple Partnership

If the landlord and the band share the success risk of the event, a simple partnership is formed as described above. In this case, the law determines that the partners generally have equal shares in profits and losses unless they have an agreement to the contrary (Art. 533 para. 1 OR). Organisational issues or determining who bears the costs can be freely agreed upon between the partners.

In a deed of partnership – even if it is actually referred to as an engagement or rental agreement – it is possible to allocate the duty to pay the copyright licence fee or the responsibility to obtain the licence for the music use to the musician.

As previously stated, a musician can, as the sole organiser, and under specific conditions, renounce on the perception of his rights. Such conditions shall not be deemed to have been fulfilled if the duty has been imposed upon the musician to pay the copyright licence fee or to obtain the licence by way of a deed of partnership. As soon as the landlord is participating in the financial success of the event, i.e. in another form of cooperation than pure rent, the band is not the sole organiser, but the simple partnership becomes the organiser.

As already mentioned, and based on the rules of joint and several liability, it is permissible that a creditor may choose from which debtor, resp. partner they wish to collect the relevant part of the receivables. In such cases, the creditor is not obliged to consider internal arrangements made between the partners. SUISA shall, in such cases, always turn to the landlord of the venue.

For such concert cooperation cases, the musicians must take into account that: If you sign a contract where the payment of the copyright licence fees has been passed on to you, the musician(s), you will be obliged to pay the amount and to reimburse the landlord. Even though SUISA always turns to the landlord, the landlord can still take recourse at the end of the day. Whether landlords are likely to do so, cannot be anticipated. As a consequence, it is advisable to be careful when signing such agreements and to carefully weigh up the benefits and risks.

Summary

If artists rent a venue, they will be responsible as organisers for paying the copyright licence fees. They can, however, renounce on SUISA collecting fees for the event if only their own songs are performed, where no third parties, irrespective whether other authors or publishers are involved.

If artists enter into a cooperation with the venue, from which a simple partnership emerges, SUISA will always turn to the landlord with regards to the copyright licence fees. Artists must be aware of the fact that the landlord can, however, take recourse against them.

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  1. Nicolo battaglia says:

    Que faire pour un concert donne d’ans urne eglise qui pay un forfet ?

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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 event organiser of a concert has to pay the copyright licence fee. How does it affect the legal situation, if musicians and organisers jointly run the performance by way of a cooperation? Text by Fabian Niggemeier and Manu Leuenberger

If bands and event promoters organise a concert together

Excited concert club audience. The concert organiser is responsible for paying the copyright licence fee. (Photo: Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com)

The concert organiser is responsible for paying the copyright licence fee in the case of artist engagement agreements. More information on this fundamental principle and relevant legal aspects is included in the article “Artist engagement contract: Does the artist have to pay SUISA a licence fee?” from the members’ magazine SUISAinfo 1.12 (Article as PDF, in German).

It occurs that events are organised by the bands themselves or in cooperation with third parties. In...read more

4 tips for you how to get your concert royalties

The open air summer season is in full swing. Immediately afterwards, the winter season with its many indoor concerts ‘gets in line’ outside music club venues. So the songs you wrote are also played live in concerts? Here are 4 tips for you how to get your concert royalties.

4 tips for you how to get your concert royalties

(Photo: Marcel Grubenmann)

Concerts with your music have a value for you! Your concert payment is your reward for your live performance; you do, however, also earn money for composing your songs: That’s what we call royalties. SUISA can collect these royalties for you. If you’d like us to do this for you, you should consider these 4 tips:

  1. Become a member of SUISA
    A band as a whole cannot be a single member, only individual band members can sign up with SUISA. The prerequisite for you is to write your own music or lyrics. Ideally all involved co-composers become SUISA members. If the band has jointly composed a song but if not all involved band members have become SUISA members yet, we collect the royalties for the song and put the money for the non-members on hold for five years. If the remaining band members join SUISA within said five years, the money in question is paid out to them.
  2. Register your works with us
    You should immediately register all works you perform, record onto a sound carrier or offer via the internet, including details on all parties involved. Only if the works have been registered correctly can we distribute the money that is due to you.
  3. Inform us if you have moved or if your address has changed
    Please informs us on any change of your address and/or payment address/details without delay. If SUISA does not hold a valid address for you, royalties will not be paid until a new address is submitted. SUISA membership lapses in the event we have no valid contact details for five years.
  4. Contact us if you have queries about your distribution
    If you have a question on one of our distributions, please contact our distribution information team.

Additional information:
Work registration made simple (PDF, in German): Register your works properly and effortlessly with this guidance from our members’ magazine SUISAinfo.

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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 open air summer season is in full swing. Immediately afterwards, the winter season with its many indoor concerts ‘gets in line’ outside music club venues. So the songs you wrote are also played live in concerts? Here are 4 tips for you how to get your concert royalties.

4 tips for you how to get your concert royalties

(Photo: Marcel Grubenmann)

Concerts with your music have a value for you! Your concert payment is your reward for your live performance; you do, however, also earn money for composing your songs: That’s what we call royalties. SUISA can collect these royalties for you. If you’d like us to do this for you, you should consider these 4 tips:

  1. Become a member of SUISA
    A band as a whole cannot be a single member, only individual band members can sign up with SUISA. The prerequisite for you...read more