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Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors – end of June 2020

In April 2020, SUISA’s Board of Directors set up a working group to respond as quickly as possible to the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on SUISA and to identify cost-saving measures together with the Executive Committee.

Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors - end of June 2020

In view of the expected negative economic consequences of the lockdown on SUISA, initial cost-saving measures were taken and a corona budget was drawn up. (Photo: Yuttapon Busu / Shutterstock.com)

Several meetings were held for this purpose, and we would like to share with all SUISA members the main points arising from these ongoing discussions.

The Executive Committee estimates that the losses in connection with the Covid-19 crisis currently amount to around 25% of budgeted revenues for 2020. Initial cost-cutting measures have already been taken to reduce costs, provided that negative impacts on SUISA’s regular operations and important development projects (e.g. online access to “My Account” for members, self-service portal for clients) are avoided.

The issue of short-time work was discussed as a possible solution to reduce costs. SUISA’s Executive Committee drew the attention of the task force to the fact that short-time work would currently have a negative impact on the collection of royalty income, especially in the area of smaller performances, and on SUISA’s regular operations. Although almost all concerts between the end of March and the end of May were cancelled, the work of SUISA’s staff has not yet decreased significantly, partly because additional services such as the emergency support fund are now being provided for members.

The Executive Committee drew up a corona budget, which now serves as a reference basis (the budget for 2020, which was adopted in autumn 2019, is no longer realistic due to the crisis). In the corona budget, the reduction in collections is offset by using the funds normally released for our supplementary distributions to cover costs. For this purpose, an upper limit was set for the use of the released totals. It is therefore unlikely that there will be any supplementary distribution next year.

The task force clearly spoke out against an increase of the current maximum deduction of costs of 15% in the distributions to members. The Executive Committee is therefore urged to undertake all reasonable cost savings.

The task force and the Executive Committee are well aware that the economic consequences of the lockdown and especially the ban on events in spring 2020 may linger on for longer and that they are not yet immediately visible: It will therefore examine all realistic savings measures not only in the short but also in the medium term. In this context, it is also important to consider which services could then no longer be provided to members for cost reasons.

All the above items were approved by the Committee for Finance and Controlling and the Board of Directors.

The task force will continue to meet monthly with the Executive Committee to discuss further developments. It will report to the full Board of Directors at every opportunity so that the latter can take decisions quickly if the situation so requires.

The task force:

Xavier Dayer
Marco Neeser
Rainer Bischof
Roman Camenzind

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In April 2020, SUISA’s Board of Directors set up a working group to respond as quickly as possible to the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on SUISA and to identify cost-saving measures together with the Executive Committee.

Report of the task force of the SUISA Board of Directors - end of June 2020

In view of the expected negative economic consequences of the lockdown on SUISA, initial cost-saving measures were taken and a corona budget was drawn up. (Photo: Yuttapon Busu / Shutterstock.com)

Several meetings were held for this purpose, and we would like to share with all SUISA members the main points arising from these ongoing discussions.

The Executive Committee estimates that the losses in connection with the Covid-19 crisis currently amount to around 25% of budgeted revenues for 2020. Initial cost-cutting measures have already been taken to reduce costs, provided that negative impacts on SUISA’s regular...read more

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Music is now consumed rather differently to how it was consumed 15 years ago: From the turnover of the Digital Service Providers, about 12 to 15 percent are allocated to authors, which results in royalties at a micro-penny -level per play. (Photo: LikeBerry)

Andreas Wegelin, let’s talk about proportions and size ratios. Streaming service providers such as Spotify, for example, pay composers micro-penny -amounts per play. If you extrapolate this, what is the percentage of the turnover?
Andreas Wegelin: If you only consider authors’ rights, that is about 12 to 15 percent of about 70% of the service provider’s total turnover. The rest is allocated to the recording, the producer, the artist. This roughly corresponds to the offline situation in Switzerland. Copyright for authors is governed by state-approved tariffs there. They are actually slightly lower. A monopoly thus does not bring about a better result for authors.

Why is there so little that comes together for the author? Without the author, the piece would not even exist for others to perform.
I completely agree with you. If a composer happens to be a good singer as well and thus performs his own songs, he gets more. But this is the same case for the offline sector. A singing author gets more from his record company than from us – because the producer provides the service provider with the music recording which can be played. It is not SUISA that does that but companies such as Sony, Universal etc. which therefore also hold the relevant market power.
Furthermore: Let’s compare the situation to the radio broadcasters: Radio addresses a multitude of listeners, streams one individual listener. If you break down the radio remuneration to listener levels, the amount is not much higher than that for streaming. A reason why streaming is even lower is that I nearly only have mainstream music on the radio. The selection of songs is therefore limited. In the case of streaming services, I also have niche repertoire. In other words (please don’t quote me on the figures), I have a “heavy rotation” on the radio with about 50 songs per month, and 1,000 songs on Spotify.

Can I assume that a service such as YouTube pays out to a similar extent as Spotify?
In the case of YouTube, one question needs to be asked which is difficult to answer: What do the 12 to 15 percent relate to? Spotify has subscription fees while YouTube only has advertising income: Is it thus 12 to 15% of the advertising revenue which has been generated in a specific country for a specific video during a specific period of time? And if there is no advertising shown on the video, is there no money, irrespective of how many thousands of clicks are shown in total?

With YouTube, you have the additional problem that everyone can upload everything without having to supply any rights information. How can you find out what belongs to whom?
YouTube’s approach is automation. This works to some extent, but there are also blatant mistakes with regards to the allocations. For such data volumes, however, it is only possible to do so by way of automation. For a total control, you would have to be able to track all sound files.

Does this mean, the future must be the upload filter?
There’s a huge debate on this topic at EU level. So far, the “safe harbor” principle has been applied in the EU, which said: A Digital Service Provider (DSP) is not responsible for the contents which are uploaded to their platforms. The regulation stems from 2002 and was intended to promote the development of the online data exchange. YouTube did not exist in those days. YouTube could then benefit from this regulation even though masses of protected contents are distributed via YouTube. In the meantime, the protection of the author has been enjoying greater importance again. YouTube, however, threatens now to block contents arguing it would be too complicated to provide for a settlement of the rights in each case. That way, certain contents would no longer be available and this would be a grave restriction of freedom of opinion.

Are there any alternatives?
You could introduce a statutory compensation claim for authors, similar to blank media levies for private copies. This would mean: YouTube is allowed to distribute contents but YouTube would have to pay for it by law. In the case of the blank media levy, the argumentation used to be: You cannot control what someone records onto a music cassette, so a blanket solution is required and it could be that you pay a remuneration of e.g. 5 Rappen for each blank medium per hour in favour of the authors. Something like this would also be possible for online usages but it is a topic that is highly controversial.

Which solution would be better for the authors?
For authors of our scale, a blanket arrangement would be better, for bigger rights holders, the right of interdiction currently in force would be better. It gives them enough power to negotiate with YouTube or Google directly. Google cannot just ignore them. We, however, had to first become active ourselves in order to speak with YouTube about a licence. That was also a reason for our Joint Venture and our approach to expand the repertoire we represent.

How long does it take to negotiate an agreement with a platform of such a magnitude?
Since we have been part of the Joint License and have been processing via Mint, we could shorten the duration. Depending on the provider, it lasts between one and eight months. And if you want to renew an agreement, you are looking at four to five months.

What kind of strategy does SUISA pursue in cases where agreement negotiations with a provider fail?
In such a case – it is rather rare, because, among reasonable business partners, you do find a solution – we must fight in court to get the recognition and the adequate remuneration for the use of the rights of our members.

How many DSPs are there in total?
Actually, there are too many (laughs). There are dozens. Of course, you start with the most important ones, i.e. the biggest. There are about 15. But Mint is planning to expand into other territories. In India, for example, the two big telecoms companies are also important music providers which results in new and different constellations.

I am a cooperative member of SUISA, may I see such agreements?
No. A provider wants to prevent competitors seeing their contracts. That is why there is always a confidentiality clause. SUISA cooperative members do, however, see what they get in the end. If they do not like this situation, they can always assign their rights to someone else. I doubt very much that they will be given access to such contracts there. That is a result of the competitive market.

In December 2019, it became known that Gema has bought a majority stake in Zebralution GmbH, a digital distributor. What does this development mean for SUISA?
Gema tries this way to be increasingly active in the business with data for the works of its members. By cooperating with a digital distributor, Gema can succeed in providing its members with 360-degree-service, which does not just include the management of copyright but also neighbouring rights. SUISA is also going to consider what kind of steps are sensible for a rather comprehensive service to its members in the digital music distribution sector.

Züri West has earned money with “I schänke dir mis Härz”, whereas “079” by Lo & Leduc has yielded much less, even though it is at least as successful.
That may well be the case. This difference does not just apply to Lo & Leduc but for all, worldwide, because music consumption is different to what it was 15 years ago. That is why concerts have become more important and that is why the entire broadcasting sector is so important because we still have relatively stable conditions there …

But?
The problem is that more and more advertising is moving towards the internet. Licensing fees for broadcasting rights depend on the turnover of the broadcaster, and that turnover mainly comes from advertising. The income is falling drastically because advertising is shifting more and more towards the internet.

A similar scenario as we had it in the newspaper sector.
Exactly. This is hard to manage. The next online agreements will need to focus more on that. It is actually very fascinating. And of course we do not always succeed immediately, sometimes it takes tough negotiations and, if necessary, even legal proceedings. We also had this situation in the 70ies and 80ies when the task at hand was to collect remuneration for cable retransmission. New developments and types of services for music keep popping up. We need to keep an eye on them and it is our exciting and rewarding task to negotiate remunerations on behalf of our members.

To the first part of the interview: “Brave new world”

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  1. Rolf Hug says:

    Very interesting. Also to mention that the big publishing companies don’t play by the code of conduct and
    can get away with anything.

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Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Music is now consumed rather differently to how it was consumed 15 years ago: From the turnover of the Digital Service Providers, about 12 to 15 percent are allocated to authors, which results in royalties at a micro-penny -level per play. (Photo: LikeBerry)

Andreas Wegelin, let’s talk about proportions and size ratios. Streaming service providers such as Spotify, for example, pay composers micro-penny -amounts per play. If you extrapolate this, what is the percentage of the turnover?
Andreas Wegelin: If you only consider authors’...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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Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORMWhy SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Read more

 

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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

Changes in the distribution of revenues from radio uses

The classifications for radio broadcasting stations have been changed. Starting with the 2019 settlements, a uniform factor of 0.25 will be applied for level D uses (sound logos, jingles, background music, etc.), and a factor of 1.5 for level E (other music). In addition, calculations will be made on a per-second instead of a per-minute basis. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in the distribution of revenues from radio uses

The rules for the distribution of revenues from radio uses have been changed. (Photo: T.Dallas / Shutterstock.com)

In 2015, the factors for the distribution of revenues from television broadcasts were changed. The classifications for radio broadcasts have now been changed as well. The rules are set out in points 3.2 and 3.3 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules.

The new rules are based on an essential principle: radio classifications must be appropriate, and at the same time they must be proportionate with existing rules for TV broadcasts.

In practice, this has been achieved as follows: firstly, billing is now on a per-second basis for radio as well; secondly, in level D, degressive rates have also been abolished for radio and replaced by a uniform factor of 0.25; finally, a factor of 1.5 has been introduced for level E (other music) to bring it into a more appropriate relationship with level D.

The reasoning and main arguments for each point are outlined below:

Billing per second

Billing per second ensures more accurate distribution, and better reflects actual usage. Thanks to the Echolon monitoring system, this is now possible at no additional cost. The playing duration of works can now be determined in a uniform manner for radio and television.

Level D (sound logos, jingles, background music, etc.)

Hitherto, degressive rates were still applicable in level D for radio broadcasters although they had been abolished for television broadcasters. The three existing factors (1, 0.5 and 0.05) are relatively arbitrary and are likely to produce inappropriate results. This is more particularly true for the factor of 0.05 in the case of successful productions with over 52 broadcasts in a single distribution period. In other words: the beneficiaries concerned receive too little compared with the other degressive rates. By introducing a uniform rate of 0.25, an appropriate factor – one that is proportionate with the other levels – has been chosen for the music uses in level D. It is also the same factor as for television.

Level E (other music)

Once a uniform factor of 0.25 is introduced in level D, the existing factor of 1 for other music is no longer proportionate to the other factors, taking into account the television classifications. This was remedied by applying a new factor of 1.5. This factor is appropriate both with regard to TV broadcast classifications (“Concerts”: factor 2, “Music in films”: factor 1 and “Sound logos, jingles, background music, etc.”: factor 0.25) and with regard to the radio broadcast classifications (level D: now 0.25)

For further information:
www.suisa.ch/verteilungsreglement (in German)

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The classifications for radio broadcasting stations have been changed. Starting with the 2019 settlements, a uniform factor of 0.25 will be applied for level D uses (sound logos, jingles, background music, etc.), and a factor of 1.5 for level E (other music). In addition, calculations will be made on a per-second instead of a per-minute basis. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in the distribution of revenues from radio uses

The rules for the distribution of revenues from radio uses have been changed. (Photo: T.Dallas / Shutterstock.com)

In 2015, the factors for the distribution of revenues from television broadcasts were changed. The classifications for radio broadcasts have now been changed as well. The rules are set out in points 3.2 and 3.3 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules.

The new rules are based on an essential principle: radio classifications must be appropriate, and at the...read more

Positive figures for the 2018 financial year to date

The Board meeting held the day before the General Assembly in June 2018 had a multi-layered agenda to handle. In addition to preparing for the General Assembly, the meeting also reviewed the course of business for the year to date. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

Positive figures for the 2018 financial year to date

Satisfactory revenue and distribution results for composers, lyricists and publishers: SUISA’s 2018 financial year got off to a good start in terms of results. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Key figures for the start of the 2018 financial year are positive: domestic revenues totalled CHF 60.3 million as at 31 May 2018, exceeding the budget by 8% and the prior year by 7%. The amount distributed in the second-quarter settlement in mid-June was CHF 43.8 million. At CHF 13.2 million, expenses were within budget.

Review of business activities

The Board approved the comprehensive report and explanatory notes to the 2017 financial statements prepared by the Auditor. These are part of the documentation that SUISA is required to file with the Federal Intellectual Property Institute (IPI) each year for its review of SUISA’s business activities.

Following changes in the Financial Market Infrastructure Act and its implementing ordinances, SUISA had to amend its investment regulations, in particular as regards due care rules for derivatives trading. The Board laid down clear guidelines regulating SUISA’s activities on the investment market. SUISA is also required to submit any amendments to these regulations each year to the IPI, the competent regulatory authority.

Satisfactory income and distribution results for year-to-date 2018

For the year to date as at 31 May, revenues increased for all classes of rights compared both with the budget and the prior year. The growth in revenues from online uses – plus 174%, or CHF 4.7 million – was particularly noteworthy. When preparing the budget, it had been expected that all online contracts would be transferred to SUISA Digital Licensing or Mint Digital Services, and that the corresponding revenues would flow into these companies. However, negotiations with the online service providers are taking longer than expected. Until the new contracts are signed, the corresponding revenues will continue to flow to SUISA, the parent company.

Initial distribution results for 2018 are also positive. The remuneration collected under most tariffs is meanwhile distributed to rightsholders following a quarterly schedule. The first quarterly settlement comprised 8,879 individual settlements representing a total distribution of CHF 13.8 million; the second, in mid-June, comprised 11,800 individual settlements and a total distribution of CHF 43.8 million.

With regard to revenues from abroad, thanks to a new IT application, we managed to distribute a larger number of settlements from our foreign sister societies than ever before at this time of the year. Remuneration totalling CHF 4.1 million was distributed to SUISA members. Moreover, starting in autumn 2018, foreign revenues will also be distributed on a quarterly basis. This means that the second of the three foreign settlements for 2018 will be distributed in mid-September. The third settlement will then be made in mid-December.

Sponsoring commitments and distribution rules

Figures aside, on to sponsoring: SUISA is making itself seen and heard with a number of actions in the framework of various musical events. The overriding aim is always to inform the public about the purpose and activities of our Cooperative Society and to attract well-deserved attention and esteem for the creative work ofour members. In this context, the members of the Committee for Organisation and Communication learnt about SUISA’s commitment in support of the Walo Prize and the organisation of the successful Songwriting Camp. Other events (co-)sponsored by SUISA include a day of concerts in the “Offen für Neues” (“open for the new”) series at the Festival Murten Classics in August, as well as “Label Suisse” in mid-September in Lausanne.

At the meeting, the Board also spent considerable time debating the amendment of the Distribution Rules. The amendments proposed by the Executive Committee are first examined by the Distribution and Works Committee. They are then referred to the Committee for Tariffs and Distribution before being sent to the Board. Finally, the amendments must be submitted to the IPI and the Liechtenstein Office of Economic Affairs. The amendments come into force once they are approved by both institutions, and the document is published.

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The Board meeting held the day before the General Assembly in June 2018 had a multi-layered agenda to handle. In addition to preparing for the General Assembly, the meeting also reviewed the course of business for the year to date. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

Positive figures for the 2018 financial year to date

Satisfactory revenue and distribution results for composers, lyricists and publishers: SUISA’s 2018 financial year got off to a good start in terms of results. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

Key figures for the start of the 2018 financial year are positive: domestic revenues totalled CHF 60.3 million as at 31 May 2018, exceeding the budget by 8% and the prior year by 7%. The amount distributed in the second-quarter settlement in mid-June was CHF 43.8 million. At CHF 13.2 million, expenses were within budget.

Review of business activities

The Board...read more

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Text by David Johnson, SWISSPERFORM/SIG antenne romande, guest author

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

It is recommended that SUISA authors such as Seven (pictured), who are also artists and whose performances are broadcast on radio and TV become SWISSPERFORM members. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Are you a musician and do you contribute to recordings which are used commercially or in music videos? Do you perform your own musical compositions or those of other composers on the radio or on TV? Are you a performing producer in the case of recordings? Do you perform music which is used in films, commercials or as main themes of broadcasts?

In that case, you do hold neighbouring rights and are entitled to receive a remuneration for the transmission of your performances. In order to receive such remuneration, you must be a member of SWISSPERFORM.

Neighbouring rights

The reason neighbouring rights carry their name is that they are in close ‘vicinity’ to copyright. Neighbouring rights do not protect the work itself but the performance of the work.

Artists, whether they are musicians, singers or conductors can at the same time be composers, lyricists and/or arrangers of a work that they perform. The performance of their works is therefore protected independently of the work that they perform.

In cases where artists finance their own recordings, they are also economic producers and therefore hold two different types of neighbouring rights, whose owners are remunerated by SWISSPERFORM in separate distributions for the relevant usages and which require artists to enter into a second membership type (producer). The term of protection in a recorded performance is 50 years. For the calculation of the expiry of the term of protection, the date of the first publication is authoritative, provided that the recording has been published for the first time within 50 years. Should this not be the case, the recording date is authoritative as a calculation basis for the expiry of the term of protection.

SWISSPERFORM

Switzerland is the only country in the world that has a collective management organisation which unites all rightsholders in the neighbouring rights realm under one roof: apart from artists and producers from the music and film sectors, broadcasters are also rightsholders within SWISSPERFORM. Members can pursue various activities and therefore belong to several rightsholder categories, for example musicians whose recordings were produced by themselves, played by their band and broadcast on the radio.

SWISSPERFORM’s activities are similar to those of SUISA. Musicians and producers assign their rights to the society for management purposes. SWISSPERFORM then collects the licence fees from the users based on the statutory tariffs and pays them to the entitled parties on the basis of its distribution rules which have been ratified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (supervisory authority).

SWISSPERFORM collaborates with SUISA when it comes to the collection of the licence fees. They are usually invoiced on the basis of the Common Tariffs which are set for each type of usage if exploitations affect the areas of activity of more than one collective management organisation and simultaneously affect copyright and neighbouring rights.

On behalf of SWISSPERFORM, SUISA collects, among other income streams, remuneration from private radio and TV stations as well as the levy on blank media and storage media integrated into hardware.

Ten percent of the entire tariff collections of SWISSPERFORM are allocated for the support of various autonomous legal entities with socio-cultural character. One part of these subsidies is used to co-finance the Swiss Artists’ Foundation, SIS, which supports professional musicians by providing them with means for concerts and tours in Switzerland and abroad.

Distribution of radio and TV usages

In the case of artists in the phono (audio) category, i.e. musicians, singers, conductors etc., whose performances were broadcast on the radio and on TV, a distinction is made between several distribution models.

SWISSPERFORM directly distributes the licence fees collected for the usage of commercially released sound recordings (sound recordings that are available in the marketplace) and from videoclips used on radio/TV. The income is allocated in proportion to the actual usage of the recordings. Main criteria for the distribution are the duration of the broadcast of a recording as well as the value of the roles of artists who contribute to a broadcast.

The following distributions are made on behalf of the Swiss Artists’ Cooperative Society, SIG, subject to a mandate from SWISSPERFORM. Licensing fees from the following areas are distributed:

  • the direct exploitation of performances and the usage from non-commercially released sound recordings (sound recordings that have not been commercially released or made available). This manual distribution is based on a declaration system and takes into account transmissions of concerts on the radio/TV, own productions of recordings by the radio/TV channels, musical performances in radio plays, commercials, jingles, ident tunes, theme tunes etc.;
  • the usage of music in films: This distribution is based on a declaration system at the same time as on an automatic system (depending on the broadcast on TV) and takes into account the music on sound tracks of films (score music), music from commercial sound recordings on sound tracks of films, music from non-commercial sound recordings (library music) on sound tracks of films, music from TV commercials as well as jingles etc.;
  • the usage of other audiovisual performances. This distribution is based on a declaration system and takes transmissions of concerts and artistic performances in TV shows into consideration, among others.

Please note: If you do not make a declaration to SWISSPERFORM and SIG that you have contributed to sound recordings or the transmission of your artistic performances, in order to receive your remuneration, the amounts that have not been claimed by you will expire after a limitation period of five years and will be re-distributed.

This is how you become a member of SWISSPERFORM

Membership with SWISSPERFORM is free. You can request your membership agreement online:
www.swissperform.ch/en/service/order-an-agreement.html

How do I declare my contribution to commercially available recordings?
www.swissperform.ch/uploads/media/Discography_01.xlsx
www.swissperform.ch/uploads/media/Explanations_on_the_discography_form_02.pdf

How do I declare direct performances, non-commercially released sound recordings, the usage of music in films and other audiovisual usages?
www.interpreten.ch/de/verteilung-ab-2017/info/

Further information:
www.swissperform.ch, SWISSPERFORM website
www.interpreten.ch, Schweizerische Interpretengenossenschaft SIG (Swiss Artists’ Cooperative Society) website

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Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Text by David Johnson, SWISSPERFORM/SIG antenne romande, guest author

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

It is recommended that SUISA authors such as Seven (pictured), who are also artists and whose performances are broadcast on radio and TV become SWISSPERFORM members. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Are you a musician and do you contribute to recordings which are used commercially or in music videos? Do you perform your own musical compositions or those of...read more

SUISA remuneration is subject to AHV (pension) contributions

Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are deemed as earned income from independent activities and therefore have to be taken into consideration for the Swiss Compensation Office (pension funds). That way, later claims and pension reductions at a later stage in life can be avoided. Text by Martin Korrodi

SUISA remuneration is subject to AHV (pension) contributions

Many musicians have several income streams. These can include concert fees, honorariums for commissioned compositions as well as salaries for working at a music school or in an orchestra. Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are yet another income category. It is worth making retirement provisions and therefore to pay AHV contributions (pension scheme contributions) on the relevant income. (Photo: Crafft)

All authors who receive remuneration from SUISA for the usage of their works have to declare it as income and pay taxes on it as well as settle the respective social security payment contributions with the pension funds. The remuneration paid out by SUISA is deemed as earned income from independent activities and are thus subject to AHV (pension) contributions.

If the income from independent activities within a year do not amount to more than CHF 2,300, the Compensation Office will only claim the amounts upon request (see info box at the end of the text). Nevertheless it is recommended that members settle smaller amounts, too: This helps to avoid potential contribution gaps which would lead to pension reductions at a later stage in life.

Especially in the case of freelance music creatives it is worth the effort to request a statement of account from the respective Compensation Office branch in order to discover any contribution gaps they might have. If these gaps have arisen over the last five years, the missing amounts can still be paid in.

The tax authorities notify the data in relation to the assessable income to the compensation offices. Based on this data, the Compensation Office can then determine that no AHV contributions were paid in relation to certain portions of the earned income. They can then claim the missing amounts retrospectively. In the case of such later claims, interest on arrears is due on top. It therefore is well worth while to notify the SUISA remuneration to the Compensation Office in good time and to pay the contributions.

AHV (pensions) – obligatory insurance for all

In the case of the federal retirement, death and disability insurance, insurance is mandatory for all persons who live in Switzerland or work in this country. All insured parties – with the exception of children – are obliged to pay in AHV contributions. In this case the yielded earned income usually acts as the basis for calculation.

In the case of earned income arising from employment this is the salary that the employer has paid out. In the case of self-employment, the amounts are due in relation to the income that has been yielded from self-organised entrepreneurial, operational or business activities.

The following directive can be used as a rule of thumb: AHV contributions must always be paid out on those amounts which you declare in your tax assessment as arising from an occupation. The situation is different regarding income such as revenue gained from capital investment or real estate which are – in terms of tax law – regarded as income but not as earned income in the sense of attracting an obligation to pay AHV contributions.

Copyright royalties are earned income

Not only the composition of commissioned music and stage appearances of performing artists but also the exploitation of rights are a type of occupation by means of which income is generated. As a consequence all authors who claim their rights vis-a-vis users and thus generate licence income are deemed to be self-employed.

This also applies in cases when you have assigned your rights for management to third parties – in this case, this is the norm in the area of non-theatrical music, via collective management by a collective management organisation such as SUISA. If you register with SUISA, you sign a rights administration agreement. With this agreement, members assign their rights to SUISA combined with the instruction to SUISA to carry out the rights management.

In such cases it does not matter, by the way, whether composers – whether as a fixed employee or via a one-off honorarium – have already been paid for the creation of the works and whether AHV contributions have already been paid on said type of income. The exploitation of the rights of your own works is an activity which is independent of the former and it leads to additional earned income. As such, it must be settled with the Compensation Office.

“Exemption limit” up to CHF 2,300 per calendar year

In the case of the exemption limit it is important to take into consideration that this amount includes all income from self-employed activities (cumulative). If SUISA income in a specific year were CHF 1,600 but additional income was generated from independent activities (whether as a main or subsidiary occupation) these types of income must be added to the amount above. If the final total lies above the tax exemption limit, AHV contributions must be paid out to the entire amount – including SUISA remuneration.

In the case of employees (those with a dependent occupation) the tax exemption limit shall also be applicable, but separately on a per-employment basis. If the respective salary is below the amount of CHF 2,300, the amounts will only be collected by request of theemployee. In such cases it is recommended to demand the statement, in particular on occasions when you have held several employments with minimal salaries. Certain employers in the creative sector are obliged to settle AHV contributions from the first CHF 1.00 of salary in order to protect the employees. These include dance and theatre producers, orchestras, audio and audiovisual producers, radio and TV as well as schools offering artistic educations.

If the income is made up of self-employed (independent) and non-self-employed (dependent) activities, the tax exemption limit is usually applicable on a per income category basis. The limit of CHF 2,300 applies for the total of all income from independent activities which includes SUISA remuneration. Salaries that have been paid to you as an employee do not have to be added since the income from dependent (employed) occupation can be regarded separately with respect to the exemption limit as described before.

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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.

Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are deemed as earned income from independent activities and therefore have to be taken into consideration for the Swiss Compensation Office (pension funds). That way, later claims and pension reductions at a later stage in life can be avoided. Text by Martin Korrodi

SUISA remuneration is subject to AHV (pension) contributions

Many musicians have several income streams. These can include concert fees, honorariums for commissioned compositions as well as salaries for working at a music school or in an orchestra. Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are yet another income category. It is worth making retirement provisions and therefore to pay AHV contributions (pension scheme contributions) on the relevant income. (Photo: Crafft)

All authors who receive remuneration from SUISA for the usage of their works have to declare it as income and pay taxes on...read more