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Small rights and grand rights: who does what?

If there is one matter that regularly triggers heated debate, it is the distinction between small rights and grand rights. Small rights relate to non-theatrical musical works and fall within SUISA’s sphere of competence, while grand rights relate to dramatico-musical works and certain types of ballet and are managed by the Société Suisse des Auteurs (SSA) or directly by publishers. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Small rights and grand rights: who does what?

In deciding whether a work is a dramatico-musical work or a non-theatrical work, the key question is whether the work has a storyline and whether it involves persons playing roles. What does this abstract definition of small rights and grand rights mean in practice? (Photo: Elnur / Shutterstock.com)

The distinction is frequently at issue because it relies on imprecise criteria which must be construed on a case-by-case basis. Our purpose here is to shed light on this rather hazy subject.

The legal framework

The legal authority granted to SUISA by the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) relates to “non-theatrical musical works”. This concept was clarified by an ordinance issued by the Federal Department of Justice and Police on 23 February 1972. Today, that ordinance is no longer formally in force, but the Federal Court deemed that the principles contained therein could still be relied upon to determine what a non-theatrical musical work is: in this regard, current law has simply taken over the former legal provisions (case 2A_180/1994, Judgment of 10 May 1995). SUISA incorporated the criteria of the 1972 ordinance into its General Terms and Conditions of Rights Administration which are part of the contractual documents signed with its members.

Simplifying slightly, one could say that the non-theatrical music in SUISA’s sphere of competence consists of all musical works with the exception of dramatico-musical works and certain ballet musical works. These exceptions give rise to what are known as “grand rights”.

What is the scope of application of grand rights?

There is an abstract definition for grand-rights creations: these are “works with a storyline portrayed by persons playing set roles, which rely on music to such an extent that they cannot generally be used without it”.

No doubt … but what does that mean in practice?

  1. Firstly, the work must have a storyline. But not just any storyline: SUISA is always responsible for concerts, even if there are dancers accompanying the artist, or a light show, costumes, or other staging elements. etc. For grand rights to be attached to a work, there must be persons playing set roles. That is why the rights in operas, operettas and musicals are not managed by SUISA.
    The requirement of “persons playing roles” is basically fulfilled when a story unfolds with performers on stage. But that may not always apply: “abstract ballets” for example, do not have a script but rely on expression through dance. For a work to be deemed a grand-rights work, the dancers would have to play set roles even if they do not “tell” a story. For example: one dancer represents good and the other evil, one symbolises earth, another the moon. This “role-play” needs to bear a significant weight in the representation of the work, it cannot merely be secondary to the music.
  2. Moreover, the storyline must depend heavily on the music. A relatively widespread misconception needs to be clarified in this regard: whether or not the music was especially composed for the staged work is not decisive. Certain pre-existing musical works may become integral parts of a dramatico-musical work (with permission from the authors) if the staged performance relates to grand rights; conversely, however, music that has been especially composed for the stage (for example) will remain a non-theatrical work under certain circumstances. What counts basically is how closely intertwined the music is with the storyline.
    It is customary for lawyers to say that a dramatico-musical work cannot be performed without music, or with different music. This statement may be an over-simplification, but it has the merit of pointing the way: for example, when the lyrics are sung, it is hard to imagine the work could be staged without music or with different music. This is why operas, operettas, and musicals are grand-rights works. Conversely, if a play contains a scene where an actor listens to a song by U2, it is totally conceivable for the same play to be staged with another song by another ‘80s rock group. The U2 song, therefore, is and remains a small-rights work.
    Nevertheless, there are cases where it is more difficult to distinguish between these two extremes. A composer who writes music especially for a show obviously has a clear artistic result in mind when he is composing. The result would not be the same with any other music. The pertinent question is rather the following: if you change the music does the storyline have to be fundamentally changed when the work is staged? Only if the answer is yes can the music and the staging be deemed closely enough intertwined for the work to qualify as a dramatico-musical work.

No choice between SUISA and the SSA

These questions and the implications of the answers to them are important: the management of small rights by SUISA is supervised by the State; that is not the case for the grand rights exploited by the SSA and publishers. It follows that the rights management rules are different, notably in the matter of remuneration. Authors and organisers may be tempted to take advantage of these differences: the former to obtain better remuneration, the latter to pay less.

But they have no choice who to deal with: either the work is a small-rights work, in which case SUISA is responsible, or the work is a grand-rights work and the SSA, or the publishers are. (In practice, there are certain rare exceptions, for example in the case of authors who manage their own rights or publishers who assign special mandates to SUISA relating to grand-right works.) If the SSA or a publisher were to intervene in an area which is subject to federal supervision and for which SUISA is responsible, they would be violating Article 70 of the Copyright Act and committing a criminal offence; conversely, if SUISA were to grant a licence without disposing of the necessary rights, the licence would not be valid, and the organisers would not be released from their liability under copyright law.

From the legal point of view, therefore, the respective spheres of competence of the intervening parties must be observed. In cases of uncertainty, SUISA and the SSA cooperate and work together to find solutions to maximise legal certainty.

Register your grand-rights music with SUISA just the same!

SUISA members who compose music for grand-rights works should still register their works with SUISA. In certain situations, SUISA may well be responsible for managing the music rights, including in the following cases:

  1. the music is used without the storyline, for example in the case of ballet music performed without dancers, or of a dramatico-musical work played in a concert version;
  2. only extracts of a grand-rights work are used, in particular for the radio or TV: under certain conditions, those extracts may be considered non-theatrical music and thus fall into SUISA’s sphere.

By registering their works with SUISA, the necessary steps will have been taken to ensure that the composer’s rights are managed effectively. If alongside, management of the grand rights has been entrusted to the SSA or if a publisher is responsible for it, it will be for the various stakeholders to do their best to resolve any legal difficulties …

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If there is one matter that regularly triggers heated debate, it is the distinction between small rights and grand rights. Small rights relate to non-theatrical musical works and fall within SUISA’s sphere of competence, while grand rights relate to dramatico-musical works and certain types of ballet and are managed by the Société Suisse des Auteurs (SSA) or directly by publishers. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Small rights and grand rights: who does what?

In deciding whether a work is a dramatico-musical work or a non-theatrical work, the key question is whether the work has a storyline and whether it involves persons playing roles. What does this abstract definition of small rights and grand rights mean in practice? (Photo: Elnur / Shutterstock.com)

The distinction is frequently at issue because it relies on imprecise criteria which must be construed on a case-by-case basis. Our...read more

SUISA panel at M4music: What influence does streaming have on songwriting? │ plus video

Today, music is often consumed via streaming platforms. With millions of songs available, individual pieces quickly get lost in the crowd. And songs often have to grab the listener in the first few seconds – the next song is just a click away. Does the distribution channel for streaming influence songwriting? This question will be discussed at the SUISA panel at the 2022 M4music Festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Lisa Burth

Gone are the days when music consumers listened to a whole album from the first song to the last in one sitting. In 2021, CDs and records accounted for just over 10% of music sales in Switzerland, according to the industry association IFPI, with the remaining 90% coming from online, of which over 80% is streaming.

The shift from recorded music to streaming is relevant to artists in several ways. In the case of CDs and LPs, remuneration covers the reproduction and sale of physical units in their entirety. Today, creators, performers and producers are paid for individual streams; these only count if a track is listened to for at least 30 seconds. The crux of the matter: For music consumers, the next track is just a click away. For songwriters and performers, this means that they have to grab the listenerʼs interest to keep listening within the first few seconds of a song.

Zurich musician Evelinn Trouble provides a first insight into how composers deal with todayʼs listener behaviour in a video interview.

SUISA panel at M4music: “How streaming is changing songwriting”

The influence of changing music consumption behaviour on songwriters and labels will be discussed at the SUISA panel at this yearʼs M4music Festival. Under the header “How streaming is changing songwriting,” composers, producers and label executives will discuss the impact streaming is having on the way songs are written, produced and released.

The panelists are:

  • Evelinn Trouble, songwriter, singer, producer and visual artist from Zurich
  • Julie Born, Managing Director of Sony Music Switzerland
  • Henrik Amschler aka HSA, songwriter and producer from Zurich
  • Loris Cimino, producer and songwriter from Frankfurt/Zurich

The panel will be moderated by Nina Havel.

The SUISA panel will take place on Friday, 25 March 2022 at 4:00 p.m. at Matchbox in Zurichʼs Schiffbau. The panel is free and open to the public.

The 2022 M4music Festival

After the festival had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in a scaled-down form in 2021, the Migros Kulturprozent (Culture Percentage) Pop Music Festival will take place again this year in its usual form on Friday and Saturday, 25 and 26 March 2022 at the Schiffbau in Zurich. In addition to panel discussions, workshops and panels on current topics in the music business, numerous Swiss and international artists will also perform at the festival.

www.m4music.ch

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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Today, music is often consumed via streaming platforms. With millions of songs available, individual pieces quickly get lost in the crowd. And songs often have to grab the listener in the first few seconds – the next song is just a click away. Does the distribution channel for streaming influence songwriting? This question will be discussed at the SUISA panel at the 2022 M4music Festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Lisa Burth

Gone are the days when music consumers listened to a whole album from the first song to the last in one sitting. In 2021, CDs and records accounted for just over 10% of music sales in Switzerland, according to the industry association IFPI, with the remaining 90% coming from online, of which over 80% is streaming.

The shift from recorded...read more

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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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.

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

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

Under the title “Musicians in Conversation”, Helvetiarockt – the Swiss coordination office and networking platform for female musicians in jazz, pop, and rock, launched a podcast series in December 2020. The second series starts on Friday 7 January 2022. The focus is on fostering the visibility of role models and on networking within the Swiss music scene. SUISA is a partner of the new podcast series. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

In the first episode of the Helvetiarockt podcast, musician and sound engineer Anna Murphy talks about the creative process in songwriting and her path to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production. (Photo: Valentina Mahler)

Anna Murphy, La Nefera, Jessiquoi and Jasmin Albash Natalia Anderson – these are just a few of the female, non-binary, trans and intersex musicians and DJ’s who will be given their say in the second series of Helvetiarockt’s “Musicians in Conversation” podcasts. The podcasts discuss music in general, and creative processes and individual experiences in the music business. In the process, Helvetiarockt is looking to create multifarious role models for female musicians.

The podcast guests and their stories are highly motivational cases in point. They show that there are different paths and possibilities for a professional career in the music world, and that no one taking this step is alone. The podcast does not only address aspiring musicians; it essentially seeks to inspire everyone – including non-musicians – and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the music business.

The interviews are conducted by Natalia Anderson, a Geneva-based musician, DJ, and journalist from London. In its press release, Helvetiarockt quotes Natalia Anderson: “We are trying to demystify the music business and show that there are many different ways to get involved in music. The podcast is about giving visibility to underrepresented groups in the Swiss music scene – in all their facets.”

Women in the music industry

Compared with their male colleagues, women are a minority in the Swiss music industry. According to Helvetiarockt, the share of female musicians on Swiss stages is a meagre 11%. In music production, women are even fewer – only 2%.

This is also reflected in the share of SUISA’s female membership, which is currently only slightly over 19% of the total. Even if the trend is inching upward – in recent years, the proportion of women among SUISA’s new members was 21% in 2018 and 2019, 23% in 2020, and 26% in 2021 – the gender imbalance in the Swiss music industry remains comparatively high given that women represent over 50% of the general population.

The Helvetiarockt podcast aims to give this (still) minority group of musicians and creators greater visibility and to help and encourage aspiring musicians make their way ahead in the music business.

SUISA partners Helvetiarockt

SUISA is partnering the second series of “Musicians in Conversation”. SUISA has supported Helvetiarockt, financially and in terms of visibility, since 2019 as part of a sponsoring commitment.

The second series of the Helvetiarockt podcasts starts on Friday 7 January; a new episode will be released every second week. The guest on the first episode is Anna Murphy, sound engineer, composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. In this podcast, Anna talks about the creative process in songwriting and the road to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production.

To access the podcasts “Musicians in Conversation”, follow this link:
www.helvetiarockt.ch/podcasts

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Under the title “Musicians in Conversation”, Helvetiarockt – the Swiss coordination office and networking platform for female musicians in jazz, pop, and rock, launched a podcast series in December 2020. The second series starts on Friday 7 January 2022. The focus is on fostering the visibility of role models and on networking within the Swiss music scene. SUISA is a partner of the new podcast series. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

In the first episode of the Helvetiarockt podcast, musician and sound engineer Anna Murphy talks about the creative process in songwriting and her path to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production. (Photo: Valentina Mahler)

Anna Murphy, La Nefera, Jessiquoi and Jasmin Albash Natalia Anderson – these are just a few of the female,...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

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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

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

How do you write a streaming success?

Tips and reflections on modern song structures by successful songwriters as well as other music industry representatives at the SUISA panel “How streaming is changing songwriting” in the course of the M4music festival on Saturday, 21 March 2020, at Moods. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music 2019 SUISA Panel Hit the World

KT Gorique, Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken (f.l.t.r.) talking about songwriting at the SUISA panel “Hit the world / this is how international hit composers work” at the 2019 M4music festival. (Photo: Ennio Leanza / M4music)

Even the most creative songwriters go unnoticed if they are not able to get their music heard. In a highly competitive and oversaturated sector, songwriters need attract attention. They must stand out from countless other professional authors. Especially in the pop/urban genre, you must win over an audience whose listening behaviour is strongly influenced by music consumption via streaming services.

On the occasion of the SUISA panel at the 2020 M4music festival, successful songwriters are going to discuss with people from the music business what a song needs to sound like in order to satisfy the taste of the increasing streaming audience or to even win it over.

The SUISA panel “How streaming is changing songwriting” takes place on:
Saturday, 21 March 2020, between 1.45pm and 3.00pm in the Moods, Schiffbau in Zurich.

The big challenges of the new era

Spotify founder, Daniel Ek, said in April 2019 that nearly 40,000 tracks per day were uploaded to the Spotify platform. A projection of these figures would result in 280,000 songs per week, 1.2 million tracks per month and a whopping 14.6 million per year. To stand out from the masses is a huge challenge.

A potential springboard for songwriters could be to be included in a curated playlist. Songs in a curated playlist are grouped in order to appeal to a specific audience – this means more listeners, more “shares” and more income for the rights holders. It also entails a better chance that a song stands out to a “music supervisor”, i.e. People who look in those playlists for songs to be used in current TV and film productions. It is, however, only a small part of the published songs that manage to make it to the playlist.

Another new challenge brought about by streaming is also that music creators only get their royalties if their song has been streamed for 30 seconds. The listeners must, after all, not ‘bail out’ from listening too early, otherwise there’s no money. On top of that, the rule for radio or TV is: the longer the song the higher the income. In the case of streaming this is different: You get paid per stream.

How much do these new game rules affect composers? Will there only be short songs without intros that build them up and instead, catchy hook lines from the first beat? What role do song lyrics play today? How does a song need to sound in order to be included in a playlist?

Come to the SUISA panel and join our discussion!

SUISA- Panels at the 2020 M4music festival
“How streaming is changing songwriting”
Saturday, 21 March 2020, from 1.45pm to 3.00pm
in the Moods, Schiffbau in Zurich

Speaker:

  • Janine Cathrein, Singer Songwriter, Zurich
    Singer songwriter Janine Cathrein is a part of Black Sea Dahu. After publication of their successful debut album “white creators”, the band has been touring without interruption, they performed at 120 concerts in 2019 alone.
  • Julie Born, Managing Director Sony Music Entertainment Switzerland GmbH, Zurich
    Julie Born has been active in the Swiss music business for more than 30 years. In her position as Managing Director of Sony Music Switzerland, she and her team are responsible for establishing and building up artists in a variety of music fields.
  • Henrik Amschler, Producer Songwriter, Zurich
    Born in Zurich in 1989, he is known as HSA. He is a well-known Urban/Pop music producer and songwriter. He has contributed to various gold and platin productions and won prestigious awards (such as the Swiss Music Award as a songwriter) He produces Loco Escrito and Mimiks, among others.
  • Loris Cimino, producer and songwriter, Reinach AG
    The 22-year-old producer can already count more than 2.5 million streams in 2019, and that just on Spotify. He produces music of renowned artists and enjoys international success as a DJ with official remixes for artists such as David Guetta and Meghan Trainor. He is also co-writer of the official trailer for the current “America’s got talent” show.

Moderator: Nina Havel

www.m4music.ch

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Tips and reflections on modern song structures by successful songwriters as well as other music industry representatives at the SUISA panel “How streaming is changing songwriting” in the course of the M4music festival on Saturday, 21 March 2020, at Moods. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music 2019 SUISA Panel Hit the World

KT Gorique, Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken (f.l.t.r.) talking about songwriting at the SUISA panel “Hit the world / this is how international hit composers work” at the 2019 M4music festival. (Photo: Ennio Leanza / M4music)

Even the most creative songwriters go unnoticed if they are not able to get their music heard. In a highly competitive and oversaturated sector, songwriters need attract attention. They must stand out from countless other professional authors. Especially in the pop/urban genre, you must win over an audience whose listening behaviour is strongly...read more

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The last differences between the National Council and the Council of States were eliminated on 16 September 2019 and the bill was adopted in a final vote at the end of the autumn parliamentary session. A long process has thus come to an end, with a satisfactory outcome for music authors and publishers.

A compromise and intense debates

A short look back: in 2012, Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga created the working group AGUR12 which was instructed to prepare proposals for the revision of the Federal Copyright Act. Representing all stakeholders (authors, users of works, consumers, etc.), AGUR12 made a series of proposals, embodied in a compromise solution at the end of 2013. Unfortunately, the bill submitted by the Federal Council in 2015 deviated from this compromise solution.

In the face of the heavy criticism expressed during the consultation procedure, the Federal Council reversed its position and submitted a new bill to Parliament at the end of 2017, this time based entirely on the AGUR12 compromise. After intense debate, both Houses finally decided to espouse the compromise, even if that meant deferring consideration of a number of new issues (such as the protection of press publishers and journalists).

SUISA actively involved in the revision

SUISA accompanied the legislative process throughout the entire seven years. Firstly, by participating actively in the work of AGUR12 as part of the Suisseculture delegation. And then, by informing Members of Parliament during committee hearings, and through letters, position papers and argumentation.

With what outcome? Overall, copyright protection has been increased and modernised thanks to new anti-piracy measures and improvements in rights management in particular. No doubt one could have gone further on certain points. But a compromise is a compromise …

Finish one revision, start the next

It would be wrong to lower our guard. The “Pirate Party” has now launched a referendum against the revised Copyright Act. Moreover, the last question debated in Parliament was whether hotels which offer their guests the means to watch television, play films and listen to music in their rooms should be exempted from their obligations towards authors. The National Council eventually shelved this idea, but the debate shows that creators’ vested rights are regularly subject to attack. We must ensure we avoid … a re-revision of the revision of the law to the detriment of authors and publishers! Everything is an eternal recurrence …

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The...read more

Creating music in the era of contamination

A discussion on the deceptively simple theme of ‘contamination in music’ provided much food for thought, reaffirming the desire to talk about music and ideas, to try to understand one another better and more profoundly. Text by guest author Zeno Gabaglio

Jazz in Bess: Creating music in the era of contamination

Round table discussion on the theme of ‘Creating Music in the Era of Contamination’: (from left to right) Zeno Gabaglio, Nadir Vassena, Maurizio Chiaruttini (moderator), Gabriele Pezzoli and Carlo Piccardi. (Photo: Giorgio Tebaldi)

Writing a report on an event you’ve taken part in comes with one major problem: the conflict of interest. This most partial of creatures precludes any reasonable expectation of objectivity, so readers are warned that every aspect of the account from this point will be marked by the utmost subjectivity.

But let’s rewind: on 7 June 2019, a round table discussion on the theme of ‘Creating Music in the Era of Contamination’ took place in the convivial surroundings of Jazz in Bess in Lugano (the closest thing Ticino has to a Jazz club – but this magical venue deserves an article all of its own…). Four diverse exponents of Ticino’s music scene were invited to take part: Nadir Vassena (a composer, teacher and stalwart of the cultural scene for decades, and someone who has enjoyed considerable success across Europe), Gabriele Pezzoli (a jazz composer and pianist who has pursued a distinctly personal and varied creative path), Carlo Piccardi (a musicologist, director of Rete Due for many years, and one of the most devoted connoisseurs and defenders of Ticino’s musical heritage) and the writer Zeno Gabaglio.

It was an eclectic group – like the proverbial box of chocolates – and their mixed backgrounds alone suggested a range of ideas on music. This wealth of opinions emerged rapidly thanks to the moderation – and encouragement – of Maurizio Chiaruttini, a journalist and former producer at RSI.

Search for an own musical identity

‘Contamination seems to have become almost an imperative in every field of artistic expression: contamination between different genres, contamination between languages – cultural and popular, academic and commercial, acoustic and technological – contamination between cultural idioms of disparate origins. In a context such as this, what does it mean to search for your own musical identity, your own style, your own authentic means of expression?’

This was our starting point and, going against every dramatic rule there is, I can tell you right now that there was no arrival point – or at least, there wasn’t just one. Opinions diverged even on the meaning of the term ‘contamination’: some underlined the essentially negative connotations of the word (which, Vassena reminded us, shares the same root as ‘contagion’), while others agreed its distinctness from concepts such as ‘purity’ and ‘identity’. ‘Contaminated’ musicians, of course, cannot be pure; they inevitably lose a small part of their identity to take on something new.

Keeping the focus on terminology, Gabriele Pezzoli suggested a synonym – ‘hybridisation’ – which is less negatively connoted and more open to the variety of stimuli the modern world offers up, and with which Pezzoli identifies.

Masterpieces are often the result of a process

Carlo Piccardi then started off by reminding us that contamination is a broad historical phenomenon that dates back well before the present day. Major historical works – undisputed masterpieces that are universally recognised as uniform creations – were often the result of a process. But the processes required to create a work are hardly ever reported, and even more rarely remembered. It is in precisely these processes that, during the last two thousand years of European music, contamination has played a decisive role.

As mentioned earlier, we didn’t reach any one conclusion, but this discussion on the apparently simple and narrow theme of “contamination in music” led us to secondary themes and observations that – in an era when you might expect the opposite to be true – reaffirmed our desire to talk about music, to discuss ideas as well as sounds, and to try to understand one another better and more profoundly.

www.jazzinbess.ch

Guest author Zeno Gabaglio is a musician/composer and a SUISA Board member.

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A discussion on the deceptively simple theme of ‘contamination in music’ provided much food for thought, reaffirming the desire to talk about music and ideas, to try to understand one another better and more profoundly. Text by guest author Zeno Gabaglio

Jazz in Bess: Creating music in the era of contamination

Round table discussion on the theme of ‘Creating Music in the Era of Contamination’: (from left to right) Zeno Gabaglio, Nadir Vassena, Maurizio Chiaruttini (moderator), Gabriele Pezzoli and Carlo Piccardi. (Photo: Giorgio Tebaldi)

Writing a report on an event you’ve taken part in comes with one major problem: the conflict of interest. This most partial of creatures precludes any reasonable expectation of objectivity, so readers are warned that every aspect of the account from this point will be marked by the utmost subjectivity.

But let’s rewind: on 7 June 2019, a round table...read more

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

On 26 March 2019, after months of protest on the streets and in the Internet community, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Revision of copyright law in Switzerland and the EU: where are the similarities, where are the differences? Text by Andreas Wegelin

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

In the EU member states, the reform of copyright law has driven mainly young internet users to protest on the internet and in the streets. Fired up by social media platforms, it is alleged that freedom of expression was seriously at risk because of the new copyright. (Photo: Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 12 March 2019, a few days before the decision of the EU Parliament, the Council of States referred the bill for the revision of Swiss copyright law back to the advisory Committee for Science, Education and Culture (CSEC) with instructions to take into account current developments in the EU.

Despite the carefully balanced compromise fostered in the Working Group on Copyright (AGUR) by Federal Councillor Sommaruga, Minister of Justice at the time, the copyright law revision is now threatened by further delays, not to mention the risk that special interests, which had been set aside as part of the compromise, may surface anew.

The main revisions in the EU Directive

The European Directive contains two fundamental improvements in copyright protection which are particularly controversial:

the liability of platform providers for the sharing of content uploaded by consumers
This provision mainly concerns the major social media platforms (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, or GAFA for short). Under existing EU law, platform operators can argue that they are merely service providers and are not responsible for the content made available on their platforms. This position is rooted in the EU’s e-commerce directive of 2000, which had limited the liability of service providers (under what was termed the “safe harbour” principle) with a view to stimulating the digital economy.

In the meantime, it has been rightly recognised that the uploading of protected content by private persons infringes copyrights. Even providers such as Google have sought contact with major rights owners and collecting societies because of Youtube, but only offered financial compensation on a “voluntary” contractual basis. It is precisely because content-sharing platforms like Youtube make available practically all existing content that they are so popular with growing numbers of music and film enthusiasts.

Article 17 of the new Directive (Article 13 of the original draft) provides that EU Member States must enact rules stipulating that service providers are liable for the content shared (uploaded) on their platforms.

As a result, GAFAs will be obliged either to conclude licence agreements with all rightholders, or to introduce technical mechanisms (upload filters) to prevent altogether the uploading of protected content. It was this latter prospect which inflamed the Internet community and led to demonstrations in front of the EU Parliament against what was feared would lead to drastic restrictions on the freedom of expression and artistic freedom.

Protecting press publishers from the publication of their articles on internet platforms
Article 15 (formerly 11) of the new Directive also proved very controversial in the parliamentary debates. The proposed neighbouring rights protection was designed to grant publishers a participation in the dissemination of their content, e.g. on Google News. Interestingly, however, the simple reference to Google News can serve to increase a press publisher’s reach, and news per se cannot be protected by copyright. Similar regulations in individual EU countries have proved ineffective, particularly because major publishers prefer to benefit from free advertising on Google News rather than threaten Google News with a licence claim and risk being ignored.

The key points of the Swiss revision

Different legal situation compared to the EU
The Federal Copyright Act (FCA) and Switzerland’s legal situation are considerably different to EU law and the copyright legislation of the individual EU Member States. The EU Directive of 2000 on the single market is not applicable in Switzerland. GAFAs cannot invoke the “safe harbour” principle here. In principle, platform operators are already liable for the content shared by their users, but enforcing a liability claim is a complex and hazardous process. Switzerland’s copyright legislation also recognises the principle that, relying on private copying rules, consumers are entitled to use content from the Internet regardless whether or not the source is licensed to make it available. This liberal approach reflects the acknowledgement that only the provider can reasonably license the mass consumption of content from the Internet, certainly not the consumer.

The AGUR compromise
The AGUR compromise was adopted in March 2017 in the context of the Swiss legal framework described above. Relying on that compromise – which contained some grey areas disadvantageous to authors – the Federal Council submitted a revised bill to Parliament. The bill contained a “stay down” obligation designed to reinforce the liability of online content-sharing service providers: once content is qualified as illegal, providers must keep it off their platforms permanently. In addition to other important improvements for authors, which we have already reported elsewhere, the Federal Council’s proposal contains changes for digitisation, such as a “scientific” exception or limitation for text and data mining, and licensing simplifications through extended collective licensing. The last two proposals are also part of the recently adopted EU Directive (Articles 4 and 12).

Remuneration for journalists and neighbouring rights for publishers
On 12 February 2019, the Committee of the Council of States proposed to introduce an entitlement to remuneration for journalists and neighbouring rights protection for publishers whose work is used on Internet platforms. The introduction of an entitlement to remuneration for journalists would certainly be welcome, and might even suffice if journalists, as the original creators, would involve their publishers in the claims. This would avoid having to introduce a controversial neighbouring right with the dubious effect described above.

Exception for libraries
At the last minute, the Committee of the Council of States also proposed to exempt public libraries from the obligation to pay remuneration for the rental of works – a provision in force since 1993. Public libraries lobbied actively for this exemption; under the existing tariff, libraries do not have to pay a fee on the rental of works provided they charge an annual fee rather than individual fees when they rent out works. Whatever the case, the truth of the matter is that libraries make books, DVDs, CDs or music streaming available to their users for a small fee, in competition with the markets concerned.

Exception for reception in hotel and guest rooms
As with public libraries, the exception for guest rooms deviates from the AGUR compromise to the detriment of authors. Intensive lobbying by the hospitality industry had already led the National Council to propose an exception for the reception of programmes in hotel rooms and holiday flats in December 2018. Moreover, the exception was extended to rooms in institutions and prison cells. This demand also stems from a tariff dispute with the collecting societies. In 2017, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the use of works in such premises did not qualify as private use if the hotelier or landlord arranges reception and makes the corresponding equipment available. In this case, both are acting with the intent of making a profit, i.e. the provision of reception facilities for protected content is a sales argument for landlords and influences their turnover. Artists should not be required to subsidise the hospitality industry through this exception; their situation would then be significantly worse than under existing copyright law.

Switzerland needs updated copyright legislation now – without any new exceptions!

Switzerland has been struggling to modernise its copyright law since 2010. The AGUR compromise made some progress in adapting the law to the contemporary environment. Individual interests that run counter to this modernisation are liable to emerge in parliamentary debates and may even lead to a worsening in the existing law. This must not be allowed to happen. The situation is somewhat different for journalists: the re-use of press products on the Internet must be seriously examined when the law is updated. Maybe the time is not yet ripe. This was also acknowledged by the Committee of the Council of States in its second consultation on copyright law on 29 April, and it called on the Federal Council, by way of a postulate, to examine the development of copyright law in Europe.

In its 2019 summer session, Parliament would be well-advised to adopt the copyright law revision on the basis of the AGUR compromise without any new exceptions for public libraries or the hospitality industry.

Cautious take-over and adaptation of the EU Directive to Swiss specificities

The new EU Directive could nevertheless serve as a model for additional changes to Swiss law in the future. As mentioned above, the CSEC of the Council of States has asked the Federal Council to produce a report on the situation of journalists and newspaper publishers in particular; in this context, the liability of online content-sharing service providers should be examined more closely. What is more, the sharing or uploading of protected content on the Internet is even less controllable than private copying. The EU Directive therefore rightly establishes a liability on the part of GAFAs, because they are the ones who make sharing possible and attractive in the first place. However, it will be difficult for GAFAs to license each uploaded contribution from the individual rightholders.

One option might be to oblige the platforms to remunerate rightholders on a lump-sum basis for the sharing of content on their platforms. Anything demanding unreasonable technical effort to control should generally be allowed; on the other hand, online content-sharing service providers would be obliged to compensate authors and other rightholders via the collecting societies under a legal licence similar to private copying. In the next few years, the Swiss Parliament will have to revisit these issues again in more depth with a view to implementing the EU Directive across the borders.

Post-revision is pre-revision

Swiss copyright legislation is likely to remain a work in progress for some time to come. Digitisation, the easy global exchange of protected works on the Internet, and technological advances such as artificial intelligence or machine learning mean that legal standards will have to be reviewed again. The current revision of Swiss copyright law, hopefully to be completed in June 2019 based on the AGUR compromise, is not final but merely the prelude to the next revision.

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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On 26 March 2019, after months of protest on the streets and in the Internet community, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Revision of copyright law in Switzerland and the EU: where are the similarities, where are the differences? Text by Andreas Wegelin

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

In the EU member states, the reform of copyright law has driven mainly young internet users to protest on the internet and in the streets. Fired up by social media platforms, it is alleged that freedom of expression was seriously at risk because of the new copyright. (Photo: Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 12 March 2019, a few days before the decision of the EU Parliament, the Council of States referred the bill for the...read more