Tag Archives: Distribution

Residuals from online collections – what’s that and how can I participate in them?

In mid-December, we pay our members the fourth settlement of their online revenues this year. But this time, we’ll put a cherry on top! This “cherry” comes from the so-called “residuals” about the distribution of which the SUISA Board had decided in autumn 2021. In this context, here’s the most important piece of advice: Register all works as soon as possible with SUISA! Text by Anke Link

Residuals from online collections – what’s that and how can I participate in them?

Due to an international agreement with online music platforms, SUISA amended its distribution rules in the online collections area. (Photo: MandriaPix / Shutterstock.com)

“Residuals” are amounts paid by online music platforms for works or parts of works which have not been claimed by any collective management organisation. The reason for this is often that the works or parts of works have not been registered by the authors or publishers with their collective management organisations. SUISA can only collect licence fees via the SUISA Digital Licensing AG (SUDL) from the platform for works that have been declared and completely documented. This is why it is important that you register the works as soon as possible! Best before they are published online (details on this also in the blog article “Online licensing activities require early work registrations” of 29 October 2020).

International rules on how to deal with “residuals”

In the summer of 2020, an international working group, consisting of CMOs (SUISA was also part of it), major publishers and the most important platforms agreed on binding rules regarding how to deal with “residuals”: The money attributable to unclaimed works or parts of works is divided among all licensors of a platform in proportion to their respective market share. SUISA thus receives a share for each territory for which it licenses a platform, according to the importance of its repertoire in relation to the other repertoires used in that country.

This is just one more reason why it is important that works are registered as soon as possible, as this increases SUISA’s repertoire share. What needs to be mentioned in this context is that the members undertake towards SUISA to register their works within a certain period anyway: in the case of authors, this is within a month after the work has been created and in the case of publishers within a month after the work has been published.

It will now also be possible via SUISA Digital Licensing to issue an invoice for this period even after the expiry of an already distributed usage period, and this up to a maximum of 18 months after the end of the usage period. For works which have been fully registered with SUISA within the period, SUDL will be able to request the respective licence fee from the platform.

Only when the period within which a retroactive invoice can be issued, has expired, “residuals” will be determined. This means: The contributions for works or part of works which have, by then, still not been claimed by a collective management organisation, will be paid by the online music platforms to all of its licensors in proportion to their repertoire share.

Changes to the SUISA distribution rules

Up to now, only iTunes had paid “residuals” to SUISA. With the agreement made in the summer of 2020, the large platforms are now following suit. This way, a binding provision became necessary in the distribution rules of SUISA, about which the SUISA Board of Directors decided in September 2021. It will be applied to the fourth online distribution 2021 for the first time.

SUISA distributes its share in the “residuals” as a blanket adjustmenton the current online distributions. In contrast to revenues for works that have not been documented or have been only partially documented, which are used offline (e.g. at concerts), the “residuals” will not be reserved for potential late or subsequent settlements at a later point in time.

The reason for this is, on the one hand the disproportionately high costs which such work-based adjustments would entail. On the other hand, our analyses have shown that the works which only get registered fully after the 18-month period has expired, only have little economic significance. Incidentally, even our sister organisations abroad do not reserve “residuals” from the distribution for longer periods.

Whether we are talking about online or offline uses: A fast work registration is an advantage in any case because it facilitates a quick payment of the licensing revenues. Late work registrations, however, always carry the risk of income losses for the respective rightsholders. Additional costs are also created for SUISA which is a disadvantage for all rightsholders.

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In mid-December, we pay our members the fourth settlement of their online revenues this year. But this time, we’ll put a cherry on top! This “cherry” comes from the so-called “residuals” about the distribution of which the SUISA Board had decided in autumn 2021. In this context, here’s the most important piece of advice: Register all works as soon as possible with SUISA! Text by Anke Link

Residuals from online collections – what’s that and how can I participate in them?

Due to an international agreement with online music platforms, SUISA amended its distribution rules in the online collections area. (Photo: MandriaPix / Shutterstock.com)

“Residuals” are amounts paid by online music platforms for works or parts of works which have not been claimed by any collective management organisation. The reason for this is often that the works or parts of works have not been registered by the...read more

SUISA Board meeting, autumn 2021

The Board of Directors and the Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the one for Organisation and Communication gathered on 29 and 30 September 2021 for their autumn meetings in Lausanne. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

SUISA Board meeting, autumn 2021

During its autumn meeting, the SUISA Board of Directors elected Francine Jordi (pictured) into the Board of FONDATION SUISA. (Photo: Thomas Buchwalder)

Fortunately, the epidemiological situation allowed the members of the SUISA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee to meet in person again. Of all people, it was ausgerechnet? Councillor of States, Johanna Gapany, newly elected to the Board at the General Meeting 2021, who was only able to join the meeting of the Committee for Organisation and Communication (O+K) via video link due to her participation in the session of the Federal Councillors in Bern. The SUISA meeting schedule 2022 is going to be adapted with the Council sessions in mind.

Cost unit accounting

The Board of Directors dealt with the results of the cost unit accounting for 2020, like every year in its autumn meeting. Based on the cost unit accounting, it can be determined how high the expenditure for collection and distribution is for each tariff in detail.

It is generally known that SUISA deducts a fixed percentage from the settlements to the rightsholders as a cost contribution for its expenditure related to collection and distribution. This percentage, i.e. 15% for performing and broadcasting rights, is a mixed calculation in relation to the effective costs. For example, collecting licence fees for music usages in the hospitality industry (CT H) or for dance and entertainment (CT Hb) is more costly than the collection from radio stations (Tariff A and CT S).

This cost unit accounting also makes these differences visible, and it can also be shown in a time dimension whether the costs for a specific tariff are showing a downward trend thanks to savings and rationalisation measures. The result of the cost unit accounting 2020 was somewhat clouded by the difficult collection situation due to the pandemic, less income but still costs which could not be reduced to the same extent.

Strategy

Every year in its autumn meeting, the Board of Directors takes a look at the strategy of SUISA. The basis paper for this was created in 2019. It was now time to check whether the defined strategic objectives are still to be weighted equally and can be achieved in a meaningful way.

Due to the pandemic, slight adjustments were made; however, the fundamental strategic stance of “asserting oneself in the face of increasing competition through high yields with high cost-awareness and best service quality” remains the same.

Special meeting to discuss online usages

In relation to the company’s strategy, the Board of Directors is going to meet at the end of November in a special meeting to discuss online usages. One reason for this, among others, is also the five-year anniversary of Mint Digital Services, the Joint Venture with the US-American organisation SESAC.

For this special meeting, the Board of Directors approved an agenda and determined the main issues. The objective is to define the needs and expectations of the SUISA members and satisfy them by way of finding suitable measures at Mint Digital Services and the SUISA group of companies.

Distribution of “residuals”

Changes in the distribution rules normally have to be approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (in Switzerland) and the Office for Economic Affairs (in Liechtenstein). The competence in the case of distribution rules for collections for online licensing is different: The management of online rights is not subject to federal supervision. As such, the respective changes to distribution rules exclusively fall under the competence of the Distribution and Works Committee and the SUISA Board of Directors.

As part of this competence, the Board of Directors decided in its meeting on 30 September 2021 that item 5.6.1 of the distribution rules be changed respectively reviewed with regards to the distribution of the “residuals” paid by online platforms. “Residuals” are amounts paid by online music platforms for works or parts of works whose rights owners could not be determined and as such no claims were established by any collective management organisation.

Such difficulties arise in such cases when musical works have not been registered in time. For such cases, online providers pay so-called “residuals” after 18 months to the collective management organisation of the country where the music was used.

A so-called “multi-stage invoicing” has been agreed with the online music providers: The usage data of the distribution period will be matched after 90 and after 180 days again against the works database. During that time, it is possible to submit a late registration of the works resulting in a settlement for the work that has been registered late.

The Board of Directors decided that after 180 days, the payments for non-identified works (the “residuals”) shall be paid out as a supplement on top of the other used works in the corresponding distribution period. The alternative that up to five years after the usage, unidentified works can still be registered has been dismissed by the Board of Directors due to cost reasons. It is therefore important that new titles are registered as soon as possible so that online usages can be distributed as adequately as possible.

Francine Jordi elected to the Pension Board of the FONDATION SUISA

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The Board of Directors and the Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the one for Organisation and Communication gathered on 29 and 30 September 2021 for their autumn meetings in Lausanne. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

SUISA Board meeting, autumn 2021

During its autumn meeting, the SUISA Board of Directors elected Francine Jordi (pictured) into the Board of FONDATION SUISA. (Photo: Thomas Buchwalder)

Fortunately, the epidemiological situation allowed the members of the SUISA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee to meet in person again. Of all people, it was ausgerechnet? Councillor of States, Johanna Gapany, newly elected to the Board at the General Meeting 2021, who was only able to join the meeting of the Committee for Organisation and Communication (O+K) via video link due to her participation in the session of the...read more

Changes to the SUISA organisation chart

In the course of the retirement of our Head of the International Documentation Department, the Executive Committee decided several modifications of SUISA’s organisation chart , taking effect from 1 March 2021. These modifications also entail changes in terms of staff responsibilities. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes to the SUISA organisation chart

Brigitte Küng (image taken during a management seminar in 2012) worked for SUISA for nearly half a century and her last position was that of Head of the International Documentation Department. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

After more than 48 years at SUISA, Brigitte Küng took her retirement at the end of February 2021.

In 1972, she started her apprenticeship with SUISA and stayed true to SUISA for nearly half a century! Her first role included the distribution of licences for sound recordings in the then MECHANLIZENZ, from 1973 she continued her task after the merger with SUISA. She continued to work in the International Documentation and finally took over the helm of said department which she led successfully up to the date of her retirement.

Brigitte Küng was also responsible for the global database of the “Compositeurs, Auteurs and Editeurs (CAE)” which is nowadays known as IPI (Interested Party Information) and reflects all interested parties in the copyright world. She became a very highly appreciated contact for documentation queries among colleagues around the world. With regards to new collective management organisations, Brigitte Küng held courses for the build-up and maintenance of documentation data. She was travelling several continents to fulfil this task.

We thank Brigitte Küng very much for her many years of loyalty and her excellent work for SUISA!

Wolfgang Rudigier takes over the International Documentation Department

Brigitte Küng’s valuable work is continued by Wolfgang Rudigier. From 1 March 2021 onwards, he has taken over the responsibility for the International Documentation in addition to the Distribution Department. Due to his long-term experience as Head of the Distribution Department, he also holds a well-founded knowledge regarding the documentation sector. Thanks to these skills, synergies can be created, not least because documentation and distribution go hand in hand from a process perspective.

Claudia Kempf now in charge of the Domestic Settlement Inquiries team

In parallel, the group referred to as Domestic Settlement Inquiries which had been located under the Distribution Department was shifted across to the Members Department and therefore to Claudia Kempf from 01 March 2021. The Members Department can, as a consequence of this organisational change, provide a comprehensive service and support and advise SUISA members both in terms of the rights administration agreement and work registrations and distribution queries.

Hansruedi Jung looks after IPI

The IPI (Interested Party Information) was integrated into the IT Department and is now in the remit of Hansruedi Jung, Head of Systems Technology. The IPI is our international database of authors and publishers which reflects member agreements from all over the world. The technical infrastructure of the IPI belongs to SUISA. It issues an invoice to collective management organisations which are using the system for this service provided to them by SUISA each year.

New organisation team leaders

These changes in the SUISA organisation chart also led to re-organisations at team leader levels: Simon Klopfenstein holds the team Domestic Settlement Inquiries from 01 March 2021 and thus changed across to the Members Department.

Eva Bisaz continues to be in charge of the group International Distribution and Settlement Inquiries (sister societies) within the Distribution Department, but has also taken on the group Domestic Broadcasting Distribution from 01 March 2021 onwards.

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In the course of the retirement of our Head of the International Documentation Department, the Executive Committee decided several modifications of SUISA’s organisation chart , taking effect from 1 March 2021. These modifications also entail changes in terms of staff responsibilities. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes to the SUISA organisation chart

Brigitte Küng (image taken during a management seminar in 2012) worked for SUISA for nearly half a century and her last position was that of Head of the International Documentation Department. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

After more than 48 years at SUISA, Brigitte Küng took her retirement at the end of February 2021.

In 1972, she started her apprenticeship with SUISA and stayed true to SUISA for nearly half a century! Her first role included the distribution of licences for sound recordings in the then MECHANLIZENZ, from 1973 she...read more

A worthy result despite Covid

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

A worthy result despite COVID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUISA has responded to the crisis

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

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

Supplemental distributions from released settlement liabilities

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

Understanding for customers

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

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

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

A worthy result despite COVID

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

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

How private copying produces revenue – distribution of blank media levies

Nowadays, the lion’s share of private copying is done from the internet rather than from CDs as in the heyday of the record market. SUISA’s Distribution Rules have now been amended to reflect present circumstances. The adjustments are designed to ensure a more equitable distribution of the remuneration from private copying. Text by Anke Link

How private copying produces revenue – distribution of blank media levies

Consumers increasingly source their music from the internet. The move to digital forms of music consumption has caused a shift in the sources of music tapped for private copying. As a result, changes also had to be made in the distribution of blank media revenues. (Photo: Carlos Castilla / Shutterstock.com)

The Federal Copyright Act allows Swiss consumers to make copies for their own use and that of a close circle of friends and relatives, regardless which source is used to copy the music from. Since 1992, Swiss copyright legislation has provided that this form of private copying is subject to remuneration. This remuneration is not levied, however, from those who actually make the copies – i.e. the individual consumer – but from the producers and importers of the blank media used to store such copies.

At the outset, blank audiotapes were the chosen media: you would put one into a recorder and then wait by the radio until your favourite song was played, or you would use them to record music played back from a CD so you could listen to it on the Walkman. VHS tapes, used to record television broadcasts, were also among the first blank media carriers to be subject to the levy. Later came blank CDs and DVDs on which you could record music and films.

Today, the blank media levy applies mostly to digital storage media built into devices like smartphones and tablets. These offer variegated possibilities for storing music, films, and other works. The remuneration is levied as a flat fee per blank medium, regardless of the scope of the copying and the works actually copied. SUISA is responsible for collecting the levy from the producers and importers of the devices and distributing the proceeds to those who provide the content for the copying: music authors and artists, filmmakers, writers, etc.

How are the blank media revenues distributed?

When distributing the proceeds from the blank media levy, a first breakdown has to be made between the five Swiss copyright collecting societies: ProLitteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage, and Swissperform. SUISA acts as the central collecting agency for them all. The basis for this breakdown is the share of the copied repertoire represented by each Society.These shares are determined through representative surveys. But the surveys do not provide any information about the works themselves; they only establish whether the works concerned are musical works, films, videos, works of visual art, or texts.

The share that SUISA receives for the private copying of musical works is then distributed to SUISA’s members by allocation to its various distribution categories. Direct distribution is not possible because no one can say in practice which works were copied, stored or downloaded at which frequency by consumers from the internet. Apart from the undesirable intervention in the consumer’s private sphere, the cost of collecting such data would be exorbitant. That is why SUISA allocates the proceeds from the blank media levy to various distribution categories for which detailed programming information is available.

In the past, these allocations relied on the reasoning about the sourcing of private copying. It was assumed, for example, that a portion of the private copying would be sourced from CDs: accordingly, a share of the blank media levy revenues was allocated to the CD production distribution categories. Another share was allocated to the distribution categories for radio and TV broadcasting revenues following the assumption that another portion of private copying would be sourced from such broadcasts.

What sources are used for private copying today?

Today, however, the lion’s share of private copying is sourced from the internet. So basically, one could apply the proceeds of the blank media levy entirely to the distribution categories for online uses? Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple.

On the one hand, SUISA does not manage all the rights for all the music used on the internet. On the internet, SUISA is in competition with foreign rights administration societies and cannot, therefore, offer the entire world repertoire of music online. Only a portion of the works used on the internet produces revenues that flow into the distribution categories for online uses. These are not the only works used for private copying; private copying also taps all the other works in the world repertoire. If the revenues from the blank media levy were all allocated to the online uses distribution categories, a major portion of the privately copied works would be disregarded.

What is more, blank media fees cannot be levied for works copied from a legal source against payment (prohibition of double payment under Article 19(3bis) FAC). This applies to music from download shops like iTunes or from streaming platforms like Spotify. SUISA distributes the revenues collected from these platforms to the corresponding online distribution categories based on the programme reports received from the platforms. Legal prescriptions provide that no blank media levies may be charged for these downloads or for offline storing of streaming services. Therefore, the works involved cannot rightfully be allocated any amounts from the blank media revenues.

Downloaded songs are often re-copied. What about them? – True. Contrary to the original downloading or offline storing of streaming services, these subsequent copies are subject to the blank media levy. But in practice nobody knows which works are involved or how often they are copied. So an indirect method for distributing the revenues from the flat rate blank media levy has to be found for these, and for all the other privately copied works.

How do the Distribution Rules account for the new circumstances?

Since the allocation of revenues based on the private copying sources would lead to the wrong results under present circumstances, we engaged Gfs Zurich, a market research company, to assist us in finding alternative methods for ensuring the most equitable distribution of blank media revenues. Gfs Zurich conducted a representative survey for this purpose. In the survey, consumers were asked where they had “encountered” the last work they had copied for private use – regardless of the source from which they had made the copy: at a concert, the cinema, on the radio, on television, a new CD/LP or a DVD? SUISA has sufficient information about the works used in those distribution channels to be able to use such data as the distribution basis for the blank media revenues.

Henceforth, therefore, the revenues from the blank media levies will be allocated to the distribution categories used to distribute the revenues from these other distribution channels. This is consistent with the principle set forth in point 5.3.2 of the Distribution Rules (DR), namely: “Remuneration where no programmes are provided shall be allocated to such distribution categories in which the same or at least a similar kind of music prevails”. In certain cases, no alternative distribution channel could be determined. The corresponding share of the blank media revenues is therefore assigned to the distribution categories for radio broadcasts; since these are the categories with the broadest repertoire, this system benefits the greatest number of rightholders.

Point 5.5.5 has thus been amended to read:

Point 5.5.5 CT 4 (blank media), 4i (built-in digital storage media) – Blank media levies
Distribution categories
Audio 33.0% 1A
28.0% 2A
(for domestic licensing) 11.5% 21A
(for central licensing) 11.5% 21Z
16.0% 4
Video 16.0% 1C
12.0% 22A
14.0% 2C
8.0% 9A
17.0% 1A
17.0% 2A
The remaining 16% shall be allocated in supplement to the TV remuneration for foreign broadcasters under Tariff CT 1.
In the case of mobile phones and tablets, CT 4i revenues shall be allocated 90% to audio and 10% to video. In respect of the other blank media regulated by CT 4 and CT 4i, the relevant distribution key shall be determined by the type of blank media.

The Intellectual Property Institute approved this amendment on 6 April 2021; we expect to receive approval from the Liechtenstein regulatory authorities in the next few weeks. The amendment is effective three months after it is approved and will therefore be implemented for the next distribution of blank media revenues in September 2021.

Who receives more and who less money from private copying?

The re-allocation of the blank media revenues will have a positive effect overall. At least three times more authors and publishers will receive more money than before. For most members, however, the increase will be only a small amount. Those who will see a decrease in their blank media revenues are likely to be affected more strongly.

Nevertheless, we are convinced that the revision was both necessary and equitable. The decreases are mostly due to the cancellation of allocations to the online distribution categories, and to reduced allocations to the 21Z distribution categories for central licensing of CD productions. We have explained above why allocations to the online distribution classes are no longer justified today.

The same applies to the 33.0% allocation to distribution category 21Z for central licensing which is no longer justified since: the decision dates back to the heyday of the record market when SUISA was collecting about CHF 25 million per year in revenues for CD productions. By 2019, the distributable amount from central licensing was no more than CHF one million, yet CHF 2.3 million in blank media revenues were allocated to distribution category 21Z. Rightholders who earned CHF 1 from the distribution of their works on CD were collecting CHF 2.17 from the blank media levy.

Following the virtual collapse of the record market, these allocations largely overstepped the original intent. As a result a small number of rightholders were being favoured at the expense of the majority. The adjustments now introduced are more equitable for everyone, and we trust that even those who henceforth receive less income from the blank media levy will appreciate this fact.

Further Information:
SUISA Distribution Rules

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Negotiating in the age of corona … and with coronaNegotiating in the age of corona … and with corona Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. Read more
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Nowadays, the lion’s share of private copying is done from the internet rather than from CDs as in the heyday of the record market. SUISA’s Distribution Rules have now been amended to reflect present circumstances. The adjustments are designed to ensure a more equitable distribution of the remuneration from private copying. Text by Anke Link

How private copying produces revenue – distribution of blank media levies

Consumers increasingly source their music from the internet. The move to digital forms of music consumption has caused a shift in the sources of music tapped for private copying. As a result, changes also had to be made in the distribution of blank media revenues. (Photo: Carlos Castilla / Shutterstock.com)

The Federal Copyright Act allows Swiss consumers to make copies for their own use and that of a close circle of friends and relatives, regardless which source is...read more

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

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

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From forte to pianissimo in just a few beats

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

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

Brave new world

There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Brave new world

“If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway”, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin is convinced. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

Andreas Wegelin, the distribution of online royalties is affected by delays which caused disappointment in some members. Can you empathise with that?
Andreas Wegelin: It is our job to get as much collected on behalf of our members as possible, not just online but for all usage categories. If there is a cause for criticism, we take it seriously and examine it. There is, however, also the aspect that some members have received more than before, and they are not disappointed.

Maybe the question needs rephrasing?
Well, maybe the level of expectation is too high. Today, music is consumed in much smaller units, there are possibly one or two songs from a CD and that is reflected in the turnover, of course.

But members should receive a settlement four times per year. That did not quite work out in 2019. Why?
That’s right. One of the reasons for this is that the payment of one major customer was late. The amounts in the June distribution would thus have been far too small: On the one hand, the settlement would have fallen under the so-called payout threshold, they would therefore have received nothing. On the other hand, the administration costs would have been too high. We subsequently decided to postpone the settlement. Our goal, however, remains to pay out on a quarterly basis.

So, you don’t have a problem with the data volume you received that you need for the calculation of the online royalties?
No, we don’t. Yes, the data volume we receive is rather huge and requires complex processing with respect to many countries and currencies, but our systems have proved to be extremely efficient in this regard.

I can now upload my work on platforms such as iMusician, from where it is distributed to various service providers (Spotify etc.) and I can see how much my work is used, and where. Can SUISA also do that?
These are two different business models. iMusician monitors where an individual recording is played. That is, of course, much easier to track than having to simultaneously trace dozens, if not hundreds of recordings of one single work. What’s more, music providers know exactly who the artists of a recording are, but don’t have information on the composers of the song.

So SUISA’s job is more complex?
Of course. Add to that the obligation to provide clear information on the rights whenever you upload a song to such a distribution service. At our end, however, we also get notifications of works which have been uploaded by a fan without any details at all. If I do compare our administration costs with the fees that a service such as iMusician charges, I think to myself: we can keep up very well. But – such distribution services show us how we could improve our service in future and what is in demand on the market.

Which is?
The key word is tracking. I give you an example: If commercials with music of Swiss authors are broadcast abroad, the best way for me to get information on the number of broadcasts is via a tracking system. Today, not least on the grounds of cost, we have a system where the broadcasters deliver the information to us. Which could be something like “Nivea spot”. Well, which one? If I already have the melody as a sound file, I can track that. That is our future, even if it is not the most pressing measure we need to take for the online sector.

Automation is therefore only as good as the data that are available to it?
Exactly. And they are often incomplete.

What about monitoring service providers such as Utopia Music which can track songs across the internet?
Monitoring is a huge topic. We follow this very closely and are also planning a pilot project. Yet again, this is a matter of the relevant cost-benefit ratio. That ratio may well be good for an international hit producer but when it comes to an overall repertoire such as ours, the expense can push the administration costs up to silly levels.

The ‘rucksack of completeness’ has been around for the offline sector for many years and the distribution works rather well in that area. In the online sector, however, where everything could be measured, things are complicated.
That is annoying, yes. The offline system has been functioning well for nearly 100 years. But we only cover Switzerland and Liechtenstein for that. Online, we need to take a global approach and are also facing competition, because, according to the EU, each rights holder can choose who they are represented by.

What are the consequences?
In the past, rights holders assigned their rights to SUISA via so-called reciprocal representation agreements for the perception of their work in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. Based on that system it was possible to pass on the relevant share from Switzerland to any composer, whether English or American, and one subsequently received the relevant shares from abroad for Swiss authors.

Online, on the other hand….
…. it is only possible for a society to collect for the rights holder whom it represents directly, even though this can be done at a global level. All of a sudden, the documentation must be more accurate and also completed for other countries since it otherwise won’t match. One collective management organisation might declare that their share of a work amounts to 80 percent, another organisation claims to hold 40 percent, which adds up to 120. Such cases happen all the time.

And what’s the consequence of this?
The provider says: As long as you do not know who sends an invoice for what, I won’t pay you. Or we do not get any money, but the info: I have already paid someone else!

How do disputes among rights representatives arise?
Let’s take an example: I have a work with a composer, a lyricist and a publisher. The latter, however, has an agreement with a sub-publisher and has, for another territory, instructed a third publisher, and now all of these entitled parties can choose their own collective management organisation for the online exploitation. This means that there might be four or five collective management organisations which are then in charge for their respective part of the work. Now, I have to agree exactly which part belongs to me. This is where the “disputes” start, because the entry may be different at their end.

Is there no regulation among the copyright management organisations how you can proceed in such situations?
The societies are trying to coordinate their collaboration better in technical working groups. Due to the new competition situation among the organisations, a complete solution for these difficulties has not been found yet.

Music is consumed in small units, the rights representation happens at an even smaller scale, international competition and no smooth processes – doesn’t that frustrate you?
No, that is what makes this job so interesting! Changes such as the internet come to you from outside. You can either put your head in the sand or try to make the most of it. If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway.

But you do understand that authors are stressed out by such a situation?
Of course, it stresses us, too (laughs). We are building a new service here, which will hopefully be profitable and in demand and which gets the most out of it for our members. This can only happen in small steps and with setbacks, but there is also progress: We were able to improve the agreements, modernise infrastructure and the duration between the usage date and the distribution date could be halved since 2012. I am very optimistic.

To the second part of the interview: “Penny-pinching in digital music distribution”

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There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Brave new world

“If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway”, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin is convinced. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

Andreas Wegelin, the distribution of online royalties is affected by delays which caused disappointment in some members. Can you empathise with that?
Andreas Wegelin: It is our job to get as much collected on behalf...read more

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

More than 100,000 companies in Switzerland use music, TV and films for background entertainment purposes. For these usages, the companies pay a fee based on Common Tariff 3a to authors, publishers, performers or producers. How and to whom are these revenues paid? Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

Considered by many to be part of the pub atmosphere just like teak furniture or dartboards: premier league games on the telly. Producers of the broadcasts have the right to receive a remuneration for usages outside domestic and private circles or home life. (Photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com)

Just like lighting or decoration, suitable background music is an important contributing factor to make customers and guests feel good in a shop, hairdresser or restaurant. Plus, live transmissions of a football or cricket match are equally part of the interior décor of a pub, just like dark furniture, wooden shields and the dartboard.

Similar to the obligation to pay makers of the furniture, the decoration or the lighting, composers, lyricists, performers, scriptwriters or producers are entitled by law to receive a remuneration for the use of their works and performances outside the private circle. The five Swiss collective management organisations Pro Litteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform are responsible for this task. SUISA collects the remuneration for the use of music, films and TV broadcasts pursuant to the Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a) on their behalves.

What does SUISA do with the collected money from background entertainment?

The first step is that the collected money is split among the five Swiss collective management organisations based on a fixed distribution key. The SUISA share for the coverage of music contents is slightly more than half of the income. Each society is then responsible in a second step to pay out these collected fees to authors and artists, publishers and producers.

In the case of SUISA, 88% of the above-mentioned fifty percent is distributed to the rightsholders. This means that of the CHF 100 that were collected, CHF 88 are paid out to creators and their publishers.

How and to whom are these revenues paid? SUISA usually knows three different possibilities of distribution: direct distribution, blanket distribution with programme material and blanket distribution without programme material (see box). Programme material consists of lists with the works which were performed or broadcast.

In the case of the CT 3a, the money is nearly exclusively paid by way of a lump-sum without programme material. Submitting and processing the work lists in this category would be linked to an enormous effort for customers and SUISA alike, and they would be in no proportion to the actual benefit. Instead, SUISA uses the programme material already available from various sources to allocate the collections made on the basis of the CT 3a. SUISA ensures during this process that lists and/or usages are considered for this allocation, enabling that the remuneration is distributed as fairly as possible.

A distribution which is as fair as possible – even without a list of the performed works

Based on empirical data there are cases where it is assumed that a major part of the companies, shops, restaurants etc. uses works which are also broadcast on the radio, resp. TV. Accordingly, a major part of the income from CT 3a is allocated on the basis of the programme material for the use of music, TV broadcasts and films from radio and TV transmissions. SUISA also takes into account that not just pop, rock or urban is played but also other genres such as traditional or folk music and even church music. A part of the collections is thus also distributed on the basis of programme lists for church performances, brass music or yodelling clubs.

In order to distribute the money to the creators and artists, it is thus allocated to other similar distribution categories for performing and broadcasting rights (see distribution rules, Art. 5.5.2).
Should a member receive a payment from one of these distribution categories, it also receives a share from the income for background music entertainment from CT 3a.

In some exceptional cases in background entertainment, there is a direct accounting process for the distribution of collected fees. This happens, for example, for music which is used in a museum for an exhibition, or music which is used in a company’s phone loop for a longer period. In such cases, the music in question is usually commissioned.

SUISA distributes four times a year. In 2018, more than CHF 132m were paid out to composers, lyricists and publishers of music.

Types of distribution and distribution categories

SUISA distributes the collections from authors’ rights in three different ways:

  1. In a direct accounting scenario, copyright remuneration can be allocated directly across the available lists of works that have been performed. This is also possible for concerts, for example: If songs of five co-authors are performed during a concert, these five rightsholders receive the fees collected for this concert.
  2. In the case of a blanket distribution with programme material, copyright remuneration is calculated on the basis of a point value. For SRG broadcasts, for example, SUISA receives a lump-sum payment on the one hand and detailed broadcast reports on the other hand. The broadcast reports include details on how many seconds of music have been transmitted in total, plus the exact duration of each work. A point value per second is determined based on these details and the remuneration is paid to authors and publishers of the played works.
  3. A blanket distribution without programme material takes place when it comes to collections based on tariffs where there is no information provided on the works that have actually been used, or if that information cannot be established. The distribution of such income is made on the basis of available programme material from several sources. The exact allocation of the money is specified in the SUISA distribution rules in detail.

The collected revenue is distributed on the basis of distribution categories. The latter correspond to various usages, e.g. music in concerts, on radio and TV channels of the SRG, or private broadcasters, in churches etc.

Details can be found in the SUISA distribution rules.

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More than 100,000 companies in Switzerland use music, TV and films for background entertainment purposes. For these usages, the companies pay a fee based on Common Tariff 3a to authors, publishers, performers or producers. How and to whom are these revenues paid? Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

Considered by many to be part of the pub atmosphere just like teak furniture or dartboards: premier league games on the telly. Producers of the broadcasts have the right to receive a remuneration for usages outside domestic and private circles or home life. (Photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com)

Just like lighting or decoration, suitable background music is an important contributing factor to make customers and guests feel good in a shop, hairdresser or restaurant. Plus, live transmissions of a football or cricket match are equally part of the...read more

Wanted: New member for the Distribution and Works Committee

How are collections distributed to authors and publishers? Who receives how much and from which usages of their works? Such questions are the focal points of the specification of duties of SUISA’s Distribution and Works Committee. In this governing body, suggestions are worked out which influence the allocation of the collections. Are you interested in co-determining the business and to sit on the committee? If that’s the case, we look forward to your application by 30 November 2019. Text by Regula Greuter

Wanted: New member for the Distribution and Works Committee

The members of the SUISA Distribution and Works Committee are elected by the General Assembly. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

Due to the stepping down of a member of the Distribution and Works Committee (DWC), a new member needs to be elected during SUISA’s next General Assembly at the Bierhübeli in Berne on 26 June 2020.

So that the weighting of the various categories is safeguarded, the interested candidate should come from the publishers’ ranks.

Are you interested in co-determining SUISA’s future? Would you like to have the opportunity to directly influence the business activities of SUISA and to help steer the business? If that’s the case, please apply for this vacant position!

Candidates’ requirements

If you are a SUISA member with an active and passing voting right, you fulfil one of the requirements for a candidacy. You should understand the future impact of decisions taken today and not only represent your own interests but also those of other authors and publishers. The DWC meetings take place twice a year, in Berne, which means that you need to cater for one day per meeting (including travel to and from the venue and a joint lunch). The preparation time for such meetings includes the thorough study of the meeting documents which are made available electronically.

Who or what is the Distribution and Works Committee?

The DWC is a committee of the SUISA General Assembly and consists of 22 members who represent all music genres, regions and languages of Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. Composers, music publishers and lyricists sit on the committee. Finally, a balanced age and gender mix is also paramount.

You can see a list of the current committee members on the SUISA website.

Duties of the DWC

The Distribution and Works Committee is dealing primarily with questions on the distribution which is governed by the distribution rules. It performs the following duties:

  • Checks the provisions of the Distribution Rules and their implications on distribution proceeds;
  • Proposes amendments to the Distribution Rules to the Board;
  • As a first instance, handles appeals against Executive Committee decisions on the classification of broadcasting programmes, copyrightability of works and arrangement of non-protected works;
  • Evaluates in an advisory capacity unauthorised adaptations of protected works and cases of plagiarism.

Are you interested in a candidacy? If that’s the case, we look forward to your application by 30 November 2019.

SUISA, Mercedes Molina, Bellariastrasse 82, CH-8038 Zürich
E-mail: mercedes.molina (at) suisa (dot) ch

If you need any further information, please contact Ms Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO: 044 485 68 00

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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.

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How are collections distributed to authors and publishers? Who receives how much and from which usages of their works? Such questions are the focal points of the specification of duties of SUISA’s Distribution and Works Committee. In this governing body, suggestions are worked out which influence the allocation of the collections. Are you interested in co-determining the business and to sit on the committee? If that’s the case, we look forward to your application by 30 November 2019. Text by Regula Greuter

Wanted: New member for the Distribution and Works Committee

The members of the SUISA Distribution and Works Committee are elected by the General Assembly. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

Due to the stepping down of a member of the Distribution and Works Committee (DWC), a new member needs to be elected during SUISA’s next General Assembly at the Bierhübeli in Berne on...read more

Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues

The CHF 20 limit for the distribution of revenues under Common Tariffs K (concerts) and Z (circuses) has been eliminated. As a result, amounts previously allocated to distribution category 4C will be otherwise regulated. The changes concern points 4.1, 4.2, 5.4 and 5.5 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues

SUISA has optimised its distribution rules for revenues from live performances. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Revenues from CT K and CT Z had hitherto been allocated to two different distribution categories. Amounts over CHF 20 per work were allocated to DC 4B “Concerts and other performances with revenues of more than CHF 20 per work”. Distribution in this category was made on a per file basis. On the other hand, performance revenues of less than CHF 20 per work were allocated to DC 4C “Concerts with revenues of up to CHF 20 per work” and were then distributed on a flat-rate basis.

As is in the nature of flat-rate solutions which at best only approximate real circumstances, this practice did not always produce satisfactory results. In the case of DC 4C, a flat point value, calculated based on the revenues and programme information of all the events assigned to this distribution category, was applied.

Distribution based on actual usage is more advantageous

The flat point value actually applied could be higher or lower than the actual point value of an individual event. Therefore, it could happen that entitled parties would receive a higher amount than that actually paid by the organiser in respect of an event for which only the minimum fee under Tariff K had been paid. Naturally, the opposite was equally possible. The changes made in the Distribution Rules now eliminate the potential disadvantage or advantage for the beneficiaries of DC 4C.

In practice, these changes remove the CHF 20 limit and eliminate distribution category 4C altogether. Henceforth, all revenues from CT K and CT Z – regardless of amount or point value per work – will be allocated to and distributed in DC 4B. The rules for DC 4B itself remain unchanged; only the name of this category has been changed. It is now called: “Concerts & concert-like performances.”

The revenues previously allocated to DC 4C will henceforth flow into DC 4B as well. These consist in the allocations from revenues without programme information from Tariffs Hb, L, Ma, 3a, 7, 8, K and Z, as well as Tariff B revenues from orchestra consortia (with programme information).

Overview of changes in Distribution Rules

Here, in a nutshell, are the advantages of the changes in the Distribution Rules:

  • Even smaller amounts will be equitably distributed per file when programme information is available. This corresponds to a per-work distribution where the proceeds from an event will be distributed directly to the entitled parties.
  • Hitherto, only the entitled parties under DC 4C had the benefit of the above-listed allocations. Since both distribution categories (4B and 4C) relate to concert repertoires, there is no objective reason not to take into account DC 4B works in the distribution of allocations. Thanks to these changes, this will now be the case.
  • By introducing per-file distribution for all performances subject to Tariffs K and Z, settlement statements will be more transparent. Members will now be able to clearly see the make-up of their revenues from live performances under this Tariff.

The changes in the Distribution Rules will first be implemented in the September 2019 distribution.

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The CHF 20 limit for the distribution of revenues under Common Tariffs K (concerts) and Z (circuses) has been eliminated. As a result, amounts previously allocated to distribution category 4C will be otherwise regulated. The changes concern points 4.1, 4.2, 5.4 and 5.5 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues

SUISA has optimised its distribution rules for revenues from live performances. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Revenues from CT K and CT Z had hitherto been allocated to two different distribution categories. Amounts over CHF 20 per work were allocated to DC 4B “Concerts and other performances with revenues of more than CHF 20 per work”. Distribution in this category was made on a per file basis. On the other hand, performance revenues of less than CHF 20 per work were allocated to...read more