Tag Archives: Music industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The panelists are:

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

The panel will be moderated by Nina Havel.

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

The 2022 M4music Festival

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

www.m4music.ch

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

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

The shift from recorded...read more

Midem (1967-2021) – the end of an era

Midem in Cannes was the embodiment of a flourishing music business for decades. A tribute to one of the most glitzy and important international music trade fairs. Text by Marcel Kaufmann, FONDATION SUISA, and Erika Weibel

Midem (1967-2021) – the end of an era

Exterior view of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France, during Midem 2009. (Photo: Sanuy / Midem)

“Due to the lasting pandemic and following a review of its activity, RX France has decided to no longer continue to organize the Midem event.” (Midem.com, December 2021)
Midem, which is an abbreviation for: Marché international du disque et de l’édition musicale, was the most important global business platform for music labels and publishers which flourished until the late 1990s. The music industry has now lost one of its most traditional trade fairs. Since 1967, the trade fair had been held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes right on the Côte d’Azur, a prestigious location which is also the venue for the renowned Cannes Film Festival or NRJ Music Awards, but also a symbol of what ultimately brought about Midem’s downfall.

Midem: the joint Swiss stand in 2015

Business talks and meetings at the joint Swiss stand in 2015. (Photo: SUISA / FONDATION SUISA)

Since 1989, SUISA and FONDATION SUISA had organised the joint Swiss stand at Midem with the support of the Stiftung Phonoproduzierende (Foundation of phono producers). After this long-standing commitment to encourage networking between the Swiss music industry and its counterparts abroad, today we take a look back on this event:

On 30 January 1967, Midem opened its doors for the very first time. Bernard Chevry, the organiser of the first Midem editions, had deliberately chosen the Côte d’Azur as the backdrop for the world’s inaugural music business meeting. In the auditorium of the Palais des Festivals, countless songs and shows were performed in front of the label and publishing representatives over the course of the five-day trade fair. The rights were usually subsequently negotiated in one of the pop-up offices of the Grand Hotel Martinez. Four French radio stations broadcast the event live, and more than 200 international journalists reported daily on Midem. More than 1,000 music experts, mainly from North America and Europa, attended the pilot edition. This figure was twice as high within a year, and the exhibition space increased threefold.

Whereas many of the major Swiss labels hesitated initially, various publishing houses came on board early on.*

Chevry had struck a chord and proved that the malicious tongues which claimed Midem was just an attempt to improve the booking rates of the hotels in Cannes during the sluggish winter season were lying. The idea of launching his own trade fair for music producers and publishers had come to the busy businessman during a discussion with representatives from the music industry at a trade fair for TV programmes which was also his brainchild. The new offer was relished, and how! To this day, members of the older generation of former participants talk with a chuckle and a touch of wistful nostalgia of the glittering parties in the grand hotels on the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes from the 1970s to the 1990s, at which there was a steady stream of big bosses, stars and starlets.

Contrary to Chevry’s original plans, Cannes remained the permanent venue of Midem and increasingly became a symbol of the annual industry get-together at the beginning of the business year. Until the late 1990s, Midem continued to grow until it reached a peak of about 10,000 trade visitors from more than 90 countries.

The Swiss exhibition stand at the 2002 trade fair

The colour red dominated the design of the Swiss exhibition stand at the 2002 trade fair. (Photo: SUISA / FONDATION SUISA)

At the turn of the century, the Internet became increasingly dominant and fundamentally turned the music business on its head. Physical records became less important. Instead, technology firms appeared on the scene and developed unprecedented possibilities for using music. However, this new clientele no longer really fitted in to the elegant setting and the conventional trade fair format of the Palais. “Piracy!”, the battle cry of the battered music industry, was soon replaced by “culture of free services!” and “value gap!”. Musicians increasingly turned to the live music industry, where it was still possible to earn money. Competitors responded in the form of countless showcase festivals spread all over Europe; Midem, on the other hand, did not change.

Within a few years, an entire industry had changed. This pace was too quick for many. Due to the drop in income, many thought twice about whether Midem accreditation was still worthwhile given the local hotel prices. The number of exhibitors dropped continuously.

In 2015, the organisers took the bull by the horns: thanks to the postponement from January to June and the summer temperatures on the Côte d’Azur, it was indeed possible to slow down the dramatic drop in the number of participants which had occurred in recent years. However, at the same time, this encouraged the freeloading phenomenon: more and more people refrained from buying professional accreditation, instead inviting their business partners by mobile phone to the cafes and bars on the beach promenade or organising parties in rented houses and apartments. The exodus from the trade fair halls continued.

The Midem organisers had got the live music sector more involved since 2017. Under the former Universal France Manager, Alexandre Deniot, some creative and popular beach stages were set up. Providers of new technologies were wooed, conference topics adjusted and attractive formats created for start-ups and Midem newcomers. In 2020, the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, Midem also presented what at the time was the most attractive digital solution as an alternative to the annual meeting. However, all of this could not prevent the demise of the trade fair. About half the number of people registered for the last physical edition in 2019 as ten years previously, so the organisers have to live with the accusation that they did not see the writing on the wall until it was too late.

Ultimately, Midem came unstuck over its outdated format and the venue. A conventional trade fair coupled with the expensive Mediterranean location: neither met the expectations and financial means of the current clientele. The Festival Palace and the magnificent hotels increasingly became nostalgic references to a bygone era.

The Swiss presence at the 1992 Music Fair

The Swiss presence at the 1992 Music Fair: SUISA and FONDATION SUISA, with the support of the Foundation of phono producers, have organised the Swiss joint stand at Midem since 1989. (Photo: SUISA / FONDATION SUISA)

What remains are countless encounters – from 1989 also at the joint Swiss stand – which occurred at and thanks to Midem and had a lasting impact on numerous musical careers. The Swiss music publisher, Albert Brunner (Helbling & Co.), put it in a nutshell in as early as 1968: “A single personal contact is worth more than 100 letters.”

Midem founder, Bernard Chevry, did not experience the demise of the trade fair. He passed away in 2019, shortly before the final physical edition.

Midem, grande dame of the music business, you successfully brought people together for decades against your glamorous backdrop, making numerous dreams come true. Thank you. We will miss you.

*Accredited Swiss companies, Midem 1968:
Editions Chappell S.A.
Editions COA
Goodman Music S.A.t
Edition Helbling
International Melodizs
Editions Melodie
Mondiamusic S.A.R.L.
Muzik Center Zurich
Musikvertrieb AG
Phonag Schallplatten AG
R.C.A. Overseas S.A.
Editions Sidem S.A.
Southern Music AG
Star Record
Swiss Record Editions Televox
(Ref.: The 20 January 1968 issue of Billboard)
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Midem in Cannes was the embodiment of a flourishing music business for decades. A tribute to one of the most glitzy and important international music trade fairs. Text by Marcel Kaufmann, FONDATION SUISA, and Erika Weibel

Midem (1967-2021) – the end of an era

Exterior view of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France, during Midem 2009. (Photo: Sanuy / Midem)

“Due to the lasting pandemic and following a review of its activity, RX France has decided to no longer continue to organize the Midem event.” (Midem.com, December 2021)
Midem, which is an abbreviation for: Marché international du disque et de l’édition musicale, was the most important global business platform for music labels and publishers which flourished until the late 1990s. The music industry has now lost one of its most traditional trade fairs. Since 1967, the trade fair...read more

Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partners

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

Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partners

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

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

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

Were there no emergency scenarios in case everything was closing?

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

Insurance and streamed concerts

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

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

Alienation from practice and lack of planability

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

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

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

Rapid assistance and few redundancies

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

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

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

Emergency budget and additional work

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

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

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

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

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

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

A single voice and rapid response

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

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

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

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

And among the customers?

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

And what about one single voice?

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

Uncomplicated solutions and delayed normalisation

How do the organisers rate the crisis cooperation with SUISA?

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

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

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

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

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

Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partners

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

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

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

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

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

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

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

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

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

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

Women in the music industry

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

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

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

SUISA partners Helvetiarockt

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

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

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

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

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

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

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

An inconspicuous medium which deserves more attention

The Schweizer Musikzeitung is so much more than a mouthpiece for Swiss music associations. It has grown to become an inspiring platform where you can find reports on musical topics across genres, languages and regions. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

Schweizer Musikzeitung: An inconspicuous medium which deserves more attention

The Schweizer Musikzeitung sees itself as a platform of the diverse Swiss music scene. (Graphics: Hubert Neidhart / SMZ)

For nearly 24 years the Schweizer Musikzeitung (Swiss Music Newspaper, SMZ) has been in circulation – a long time during which the media landscape has changed radically, keyword: internet. So you ask yourself: Why do we still need this newspaper which is still printed on newsprint paper nine times a year despite having an online presence? Or, to put the question differently: How would you argue that there is a necessity for this trade journal if it didn’t exist yet and you wanted to launch such a project?

Katrin Spelinova, who has been running the SMZ since 2007 as its editor-in-chief, does not hesitate for a moment: “We need a voice for music in Switzerland which is also heard outside the world of music.” She alludes to the fact that politicians wish that there was only once voice for all music associations.

Solid basis

The foundation of the SMZ does indeed have a link to the Federal Office of Culture (BAK). “In 1998, the BAK changed its strategy and cut financial contributions to the music associations”, explains Katrin Spelinova. “One argument was that the music associations should merge their magazines and newsletters.” That is how it was done. In the meantime, the SMZ has become an official notification channel for 12, even 30 music associations when you count the sub-organisations. SUISA is connected to SMZ as a partner and uses the publication channel in order to additionally disseminate its topics in connection with copyright in musical works and the cooperative society.

Katrin Spelinova highlights that the SMZ does not receive any subsidies from the BAK. “We used to be supported by Pro Helvetia, however, when we modernised our online appearance with the relaunch in 2013. Apart from that, our business is carried by the associations and advertising which is very important to us.” The type of financing by associations has remained the same since the relaunch in 2013. “It is a two-tier financing model. Associations require a side package which matches their needs, usually five, nine or 18 pages per year. The amount to be paid does not just depend on the number of these pages but also the number of the registered subscribers of association members.” In which case you need to add that the maximum price for such an annual association subscription only amounted to five Swiss Francs which just about covered the postage. “This income makes up 25-30% of our total income, the remainder stems from advertising and normal subscriptions which cost CHF 70.00” The main share of the roughly 18,500 subscriptions (WEMF 2021) goes to the associations.

Roughly 16 to 20 pages of the associations per issue which are aptly referred to as “basis” are no handicap for the credibility of the SMZ. On the one hand, they are clearly separated from the cover parts by the editors. On the other hand, they do not just contain the usually rather dry association news but also gripping articles such as about tradition and the importance of music reviews (issue 5/2021) or the adorably describe “Don Juan stupor: Russian pianists – gendering not necessary and the paraphrasing about Mozart operas by Liszt” (issue 6/2021).

Schweizer Musikzeitung: Katrin Spelinova

Katrin Spelinova, Editor-in-chief of the SMZ since 2007. (Photo: SMZ)

Katrin Spelinova also points out: “In the cover parts produced by the editors, we are trying to remain as neutral as possible.” The cover parts are split in a self-explanatory manner into “focus”, “reviews”, “resonance”, “campus” and “service”. The filet piece of the printed issue is the theme focus (“focus”) which is not published online. Here, you can read several in-depth texts on the topics such as “Hausmusik”, “wallet”, “voice”, “animas”, pause”, “Corona”, “supporting characters”.

Content without any style boundaries

What is central to the content is the alignment with the target group. Katrin Spelinova: “With this, we clearly refer to the active musicians whether professionals or amateurs, whether from orchestras or bands, including teachers and parents of music students, also people who are generally interested in music.” What’s decisive for picking the topics is that the Schweizer Musikzeitung is meant to be the platform for the Swiss Music Scene. “We report on everything which affects the music in Switzerland, whether that be education, performances, sound recordings or the life of music creators, and not just the life of stars which is already covered in other media types.” We would like our readers to be able look behind the scenes and to receive impulses to think about music in a rather general manner.”

In the last few years, the stylistic spectrum and therefore also the target group were increasingly expanded towards jazz and pop/rock. Katrin Spelinova wants to stick to this expansion. “It is also an experience of the music schools that you cannot make any progress with pigeonholing, i.e. to categorise into classical music, jazz, pop/rock, world music etc. And that is not least because the styles are merging.” This distinction is still made online in order to simplify access. “I do hope that this way of pigeonholing will cease to exist one day and that we will simply talk and write about music and what is associated with it.”

Katrin Spelinova does, however, confirm the impression that the SMZ is well-known in the classical music creation sector but much less so in the pop/rock and jazz sectors, despite editorial efforts with stories from these areas. She is still optimistic: “Due to the merger between the Schweizer Tonkünstlerverein [Swiss Sound Artist Association] with the Verein Musikschaffende Schweiz [Association Music Creators Switzerland], we now have more readers from that sector and expect that this is going to continue to increase.”

The newspaper format and the relatively plain and dry layout are a handicap with the younger readers who are mainly active on the internet and are used to a more attractive and colourful design. Katrin Spelinova is aware of that. “This is surely an issue which we must consider more and more in order to attract the attention of the students at music universities to the SMZ. We attempt to be present on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But if such a presence is really meant to convince, it requires an enormous effort.”

Print despite online presence

The question still remains why the SMZ still issues a printed edition despite enhanced online presence, is this not somewhat anachronistic? Katrin Spelinova emphasizes that you can also subscribe to the SMZ as an e-paper but this share was very small and amounted to less than a percent of the readers. “It is absolutely important that this newspaper gets delivered to the letterboxes so that readers are reminded nine times a year what their association is doing for them. With our enhanced cover section they also have the opportunity to read something about aspects which they would not actively look for on the internet because it is not even on their radar.” Add to that a business-related reason: “We cannot finance ourselves online. Advertising business still mainly runs via the print issue.”

Schweizer Musikzeitung: print paper

The SMZ is still printed nine times a year on newsprint paper in addition to having an enhanced online presence. (Photo: Pia Schwab / SMZ)

As such you could ask yourself how the online and print versions differ from each other. Katrin Spelinova: “Since we only publish nine times a year, we can provide a current report in the summer break online, which would be too late in the next print issue in September. And what is also very important is that we can place teasers into the hardcopy for longer texts which no longer find space in it and then refer the readers with a QR code to the integral online version. This creates more room to manoeuvre for us.”

The chat page in the printed part where two personalities exchange their view on a topic is rather interesting. This is something with particular online potential. It could nudge discussions with an expansion of the chat as a presented online discussion platform which regularly presents a topic that is discussed by experts in a controversial manner and then could be discussed further by the readers. Katrin Spelinova also sees a chance here. “We have relatively little direct feedback, also not via the commentary function. Last year, on the occasion of the Beethoven anniversary, we presented a work each week and asked the readers to tell us their relationship to or their experience with said composition. But only very little happened, we could not feel much from our readers.”

Bridge function between languages and regions

Thanks to the online presence the news really is news. Here, the quality of the SMZ shows itself by a careful selection such as with notes on insights from music research. Katrin Spelinova mainly looks after the matters affecting the associations and is very well supported by Wolfgang Böhler who many people might still know from the online magazine “Codex flores”. “He has a very good overview over what’s happening in the cultural political arena in the cantons and the municipalities.” Add to that the news from Jean-Daniel Humair who looks after the French part of the SMZ in Lausanne; Pia Schwab also contributes as part of the editorial team. “But it is a capacity problem to look after the French part as extensively as the German part.”

Italian texts are therefore a huge exception even though the exchange between the regions and languages is held high. “We try it, because the bridge function of the SMZ is important. You must not forget: For music creators from the Ticino, it can be more interesting if a report about them is written in German so that they draw more attention in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. We therefore have reported about the Ticino as a peripheral region, this year, we will focus on the Jura, next year about Grisons.”

What would be desirable is to feature more reviews which are important for music creators according to Katrin Spelinova. “What’s decisive for us is that the CDs have a link to Switzerland and are not from superstars which are already present everywhere else. In addition, concert reviews should, if possible, reflect a flow or a phenomenon in several examples. Specifically in one of the last issues there was a text on nine string quartets of Swiss composers who were performed within two weeks in Brunnen and in Zurich. As such you can also convey a context which contributes more than a pure concert review.”

Music associations involved:
Eidgenössischer Orchesterverband (EOV), Forum Musik Diversität (FMD), Konferenz Musikhochschulen Schweiz (KMHS), Musikhochschule Kalaidos, Schweizerischer Jugendmusikwettbewerb & Arosa Kultur (SJMW), Schweizerische Musikforschende Gesellschaft (SMG), Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Musik-Medizin (SMM), Schweizerischer Musikpädagogischer Verband (SMPV), Schweizer Musikrat & CHorama (SMR), Schweizerischer Musikerverband (SMV), SONART – Musikschaffende Schweiz, Genossenschaft der Urheber und Verleger von Musik (SUISA) und der Verband Musikschulen Schweiz (VMS).

Subscriptions

Surprising, fresh and always setting the tone: The Schweizer Musikzeitung can be acquired as a printed edition 9x a year delivered to your letterbox or as an e-paper. The latter is delivered as a pdf by e-mail or can be downloaded in the print archive.

The subscriptions include access to the digital print archive (Articles since 1998).

Annual subscription or e-paper, 9 issues: CHF 70.00
Annual subscription for students with valid credentials: CHF 35.00
Trial subscription (3 issues): CHF 20.00
Trial subscription (3 issue) for students with valid credentials: CHF 10.00

Order via e-mail: abo.schweizer-musikzeitung (at) galledia.ch
Order by phone: +41 (0)58 344 95 50
Order via online form: www.musikzeitung.ch/de/abonnieren
(Text: SMZ)

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The Schweizer Musikzeitung is so much more than a mouthpiece for Swiss music associations. It has grown to become an inspiring platform where you can find reports on musical topics across genres, languages and regions. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

Schweizer Musikzeitung: An inconspicuous medium which deserves more attention

The Schweizer Musikzeitung sees itself as a platform of the diverse Swiss music scene. (Graphics: Hubert Neidhart / SMZ)

For nearly 24 years the Schweizer Musikzeitung (Swiss Music Newspaper, SMZ) has been in circulation – a long time during which the media landscape has changed radically, keyword: internet. So you ask yourself: Why do we still need this newspaper which is still printed on newsprint paper nine times a year despite having an online presence? Or, to put the question differently: How would you argue that there is a necessity for this...read more

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

SUISA and FONDATION SUISA are mourning Erika Hug. The publisher and entrepreneur had been influencing the promotion of Swiss music creation for more than three decades, on the SUISA Board of Directors, as a co-founder of FONDATION SUISA and as the president of the foundation board. She passed away unexpectedly on 14 July 2021 at the age of 76. Obituary by Andreas Wegelin and Urs Schnell

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

Erika Hug (1945-2021). (Photo: FONDATION SUISA / Musik Hug)

The Swiss music scene is mourning the loss of Erika Hug, publisher and owner of the established and traditional music business. She passed away completely unexpectedly on 14 July 2021.

Erika Hug had taken on leadership of the renowned Zurich music company as a young woman in the sixth generation. Apart from traditional publishing and sheet music business, the company grew well in the 1980s and entered the new sales business with CDs at an early stage. With her husband, German music entrepreneur Eckard Harke, the sales of music instruments also saw a strong development. One speciality were the two Steinway Piano Galleries in Lausanne and Zurich.

The profound changes in the music business in the course of internet digitisation led to a decline in demand for sheet music, sound recordings or instruments after the turn of the millennium. The Swiss-wide branch network was reduced at the start of the 2000s and the company was finally sold in 2017.

Contribution at SUISA and FONDATION SUISA

Over many years, Erika Hug had been giving her know-how and experience as an entrepreneur to the Cooperative Society, SUISA and the FONDATION SUISA by way of being a member of the SUISA Board of Directors and of the Pension Board of the FONDATION SUISA. From 1985 to 1995, Erika Hug was a Board member of the Cooperative Society SUISA and President of their committee for international relations.

Erika Hug was a founder member of the SUISA foundation for music (today: FONDATION SUISA) in 1989. For 27 years, until the end of 2015, she had been a member of the Foundation Board. From 1990 onwards, Erika Hug first presided the Finance Committee of the Foundation, from 1996 onwards, she became Vice President. Finally, from 2005 she led the Foundation for 10 years as President of the Foundation Board.

Erika Hug had been a major influence on the Cooperative Society and the Foundation over the last 30 years as a publisher and expert in the music business sector. She got involved when it came to access to music and to playing an instrument, especially also with respect to the younger generation and less well-off members of society. The project “make music in the classroom” of FONDATION SUISA is a proof for this. Erika Hug was also a fighter for more women in music and in business.

We mourn a great Swiss personality when it comes to bringing music to the people, and we are grateful for her commitment in the managing committees of our Cooperative Society and Foundation and would like to express our heartfelt condolences to her family.

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  1. Ho avuto il piacere di lavorare con Erika Hug per 14 anni nel Consiglio di fondazione della Fondazione Suisa per la musica e, di questa donna, ho sempre apprezzato la chiarezza d’intenti nel promuovere la musica “Made in Switzerland”, la tenacia e le brillanti idee.
    Un’altra sua qualità che ho sempre apprezzato in lei era la capacità di saper mettere a proprio agio le persone, di saperle ascoltare e, se le idee che venivano proposte le sembravano buone, di impegnarsi nella realizzazione senza mai risparmiarsi.
    Di lei serberò sicuramente un buon ricordo.
    R.I.P. Erika

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SUISA and FONDATION SUISA are mourning Erika Hug. The publisher and entrepreneur had been influencing the promotion of Swiss music creation for more than three decades, on the SUISA Board of Directors, as a co-founder of FONDATION SUISA and as the president of the foundation board. She passed away unexpectedly on 14 July 2021 at the age of 76. Obituary by Andreas Wegelin and Urs Schnell

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

Erika Hug (1945-2021). (Photo: FONDATION SUISA / Musik Hug)

The Swiss music scene is mourning the loss of Erika Hug, publisher and owner of the established and traditional music business. She passed away completely unexpectedly on 14 July 2021.

Erika Hug had taken on leadership of the renowned Zurich music company as a young woman in the sixth generation. Apart from traditional publishing and sheet music business, the...read more

Musikexport – quo vadis?

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

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Get Going! Invitation to tender
For the fourth time, the FONDATION SUISA is going to launch an invitation to tender regarding Get Going! contributions at the end of June / beginning of July. More information regarding the kick-off financing for extraordinary projects can be found in good time on the website of the foundation: www.fondation-suisa.ch
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Leave a Reply

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

Fondation Suisa: Musikexport – quo vadis?

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

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

“We want to prevent current projects from failing”

With “Keep Going!”, FONDATION SUISA is temporarily expanding its funding portfolio. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA Keep Going!

“Keep Going!” is intended to enable the Swiss music scene to continue its activities in times of crisis. (Photo: FONDATION SUISA)

FONDATION SUISA supports projects with a link to current Swiss and Liechtenstein music-making, explicitly the creation and distribution of repertoires. “That is our Foundation’s mission,” explains the Director, Urs Schnell, before adding: “However, we regularly review our portfolio and add new programmes if required.”

It is clear to Mr Schnell that as a result of the pandemic and the corresponding lockdowns, the daily lives of Swiss music makers have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent months. “We had to take action as a Foundation,” he says and is visibly delighted that the Board of Trustees quickly and unbureaucratically approved the flexibilisation of the funding programmes in the context of the Foundation’s mission.

“Keep Going!” is the name of the additional temporary funding model offered which – as Mr Schnell expressly points out – does not replace the existing offers but rather complements them. “Keep Going!” is intended to enable the Swiss music scene to continue its activities in times of crisis. “We are convinced that even during periods when cultural activities virtually come to a complete standstill, music makers need to find new ways of still being able to achieve the goals they have set for themselves,” says Mr Schnell. “And this concerns both the development of new musical works and their distribution.” The latter is underlined by the fact that the new funding model is not only reserved for individuals or groups but also includes organisations.

According to Mr Schnell, “Keep Going!” is intended to meet music makers and organisations exactly where they are currently at and enable them to adapt to the new circumstances if required: “With this funding, we want to contribute to ensuring that existing projects are not jeopardised.”

“Exceptional” or “unprecedented”, factors which play an important role in the “Get Going!” funding model launched three years ago, are not explicitly excluded but are not decisive for “Keep Going!”.

With “Keep Going!”, FONDATION SUISA underlines its top priority, which is to encourage creative ideas and enable them to be implemented – even in times of uncertainty and under challenging circumstances.

In April, the first tranche of CHF 5,000 will be awarded. “Then we will consider our options,” says Urs Schnell. “We will analyse all applications received and draw our conclusions from them.” The plan is to issue a call for applications for “Keep Going!” every two months.

Information on “Keep Going!” on the FONDATION SUISA website:
www.fondation-suisa.ch/en/work-grants/keep-going-2021/

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With “Keep Going!”, FONDATION SUISA is temporarily expanding its funding portfolio. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA Keep Going!

“Keep Going!” is intended to enable the Swiss music scene to continue its activities in times of crisis. (Photo: FONDATION SUISA)

FONDATION SUISA supports projects with a link to current Swiss and Liechtenstein music-making, explicitly the creation and distribution of repertoires. “That is our Foundation’s mission,” explains the Director, Urs Schnell, before adding: “However, we regularly review our portfolio and add new programmes if required.”

It is clear to Mr Schnell that as a result of the pandemic and the corresponding lockdowns, the daily lives of Swiss music makers have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent months. “We had to take action as a Foundation,” he says and is visibly delighted that the Board of Trustees...read more

Ghost Festival – The big silence

The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or Dodo are lined up next to the “young and wild ones” such as Crème Solaire, Annie Taylor or KT Gorique. Unfortunately, you will not get much more than their names. Music is something you will not find at this event, nor will there be brilliant live shows or the usual festival feeling with tents, catering stalls and queuing in front of mobile toilets.

The Ghost Festival is “the festival that does not take place”. It is not going to take place over the weekend of 27/28 February 2021.

Ghost matches in football were the inspiration for the Ghost Festival

Brought to life by a few Berne music lovers, the Ghost Club, the Ghost Festival is an initiative of solidarity for Swiss music creators and performers.  Baldy Minder, booker and manager of acts such as the Bern Hip-Hop-Kollektiv Chlyklass or the female rapper 11Ä is a member of the Ghost Club. In the backstage area of the Zurich concert venue “Exil”, he told us during the video interview what the basic idea of the Ghost Festival is: “There are ghost matches in football. And as a supportive football fan, you show your solidarity these days by renewing your season ticket even though the future is uncertain. And that is how the idea for the Ghost Festival came about.”

Music fans can buy tickets for the festival as follows: A one-day pass for CHF 20, a two-day pass for CHF 50 or a VIP ticket for CHF 100. And because it does not take place, the tickets are never sold out. Furthermore, there is a broad range of Ghost Festival merchandise from T-shirts to hats and caps or hoodies and jackets. The income thus made will be paid through to the artists as well as their bookers, light and sound engineers and others. This kind of money is more than just a nice little top up: In the current situation, the most important source of income for most of the music creators and artists – in the broadest sense – drops out: concerts. And this situation has been ongoing, apart from a few short periods of relief in the summer of 2020, for one year now. And an improvement is not in sight.

A hole of more than CHF 50,000 in the financial ledgers of the authors and publishers of music

This is also reflected at SUISA when it comes to the collections from performing rights which include concerts and festivals, among others. Based on the example of the Ghost Festival, this can be well demonstrated: Around 15,000 tickets have been sold so far for the festival. If this was a normal event, where artists perform their songs, the composers, lyricists and publishers of the performed works would receive more than CHF 50,000 in royalties. Since no music is played, this kind of income simply drop off.

Around 400 festivals take place in Switzerland each year, the country with the largest festival density worldwide. Most of these festivals had to be cancelled due to the corona pandemic last year. As a consequence, SUISA’s income for copyright arising from concerts in 2020 were more than 50% lower than in the previous year. In absolute figures, this is, compared to 2019, CHF 12m less which will be paid out to the music creators in 2020 from concert income. And this detrimental situation is going to last well into 2021 and probably also into 2022.

An initiative of solidarity also aimed at bookers, sound engineers, roadies and other participants

And these are only the collections for those who composed or wrote the lyrics to musical works or are in the publishing business. For musicians, there is also the loss of gig fees, which are usually much higher than the copyright royalties. Concert and festival cancellations are not just problematic for musicians: The crisis which has now been going on for about a year has also affected the people that make such a festival and concerts possible in general: Bookers, sound and light engineers, roadies, tour managers, merchandise salespeople, security staff or of course the concert promoters themselves.

“The idea is that it is not just the bands who benefit but also that there is a holistic promotion and support for people who work in this sector”, says Baldy Minder. “When bands are on the road, they have a tour manager, a light engineer or a sound engineer; bands who travel with instruments have stage hands who help to carry all the equipment. There are an awful lot of people involved who currently have very little to do, unfortunately, and thus much less income.”

100% of the ticket sales go to the music creators

That is why the artists and bands could name two additional people from their entourage who should also benefit from the income generated by the Ghost Festival. In total, this is about 1,300 people. “The collected monies will be distributed on a per capita basis and not on a per-band basis”, explains Baldy Minder. While 100% of the income from ticket and merchandising sales flow to music creators, a part of the sponsorship funds will be used to pay for the work of the organisers. “The partnerships enable us to pay our salaries”, says Baldy Minder.  And adds: “Whatever remains of the sponsorship funds will be allocated to the artists.”

One of the biggest challenges for the organisers was time management: The idea came about at the end of November 2020. There were just three months to carve out the biggest festival in Switzerland. Even if there are no performances in the end, there are some parallels between organising a ghost festival and a real festival, as Baldy Minder explains: “A major part is rather similar to a real festival. You have to make a booking, you initiate the entire promotion, social media and press campaign. You have a lot of contact with the bands. What you don’t have is the entire infrastructure. You do not have to build a fence, set up a stage and we do not have to organise a PA company. We also do not need security. We do not need to pay SUISA fees since nothing is going to happen from a copyright perspective, after all, you won’t hear a peep at the festival.”

Ghost sounds, if anything

The event organisers have also intentionally renounced on organising streaming concerts for the weekend. Baldy Minder says: “Many people are asking for streams, but no, there will simply be nothing this time, no music. It is now finally the time where you can lean back and give back.”

For the audience of the Ghost Festival that does not want the sounds of silence and is missing the music, there will be something to listen to after all, even if it is no music: “We will release an album. It won’t be a compilation but an album as “The Ghost Orchestra”, announces Baldy Minder. It will be released on 26/2/21, one day ahead of the festival.” It is going to be released as a CD – with a clear idea behind it, as Baldy Minder explains: “The CD is totally anti-cyclical, a little bit of a ghost which is slowly vanishing.” Most of the bands from the line-up will be included on the mysterious CD. And they are artists from all language regions of Switzerland. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic affects music creators across all of Switzerland.

SUISA is a partner of the Ghost Festival
The Covid-19 crisis heavily affects SUISA members. For that reason, SUISA acts as a sponsoring partner of the Ghost Festival, not just the Cooperative Society itself but also its staff members. Each ticket that is bought by the SUISA staff will be enhanced in value by the company: Each one-day ticket will be upgraded to a two-day ticket, each two-day ticket will be upgraded to a VIP ticket and for each sold VIP ticket the staff receive a second VIP ticket.Above and beyond that, SUISA will be reporting from the festival on the festival weekend and talk to some artists and organisers. More info will be available in the coming days on www.instagram.com/suisamusicstories.

 

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The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or...read more

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

A year ago, on 28 February 2020, the first restrictions for cultural events were adopted. Initially events were limited to 1,000 people, then the first lockdown occurred in mid-March. Thanks to precautionary measures, small rule relaxations were granted in the summer, but they were gradually reversed in autumn. Since mid-January 2021, we have been stuck in the second lockdown: without music events, without access to real – non-virtual – cultural experiences. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO, considers the arts and culture as an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. (Photo: Beat Felber)

In order to stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus, the authorities initiated drastic measures. In principle, service ranges outside your daily needs can only be accessed with difficulty, or they are no longer permitted altogether.

But what is that actually, “daily needs”? Who defines them?

The daily needs of people also include things that they can enjoy intellectually! Attending a concert, going to the cinema or visiting an exhibition: Why have museums been closed, when, in fact, exhibitions rarely have to fend off crowds of visitors, except maybe in the case of blockbuster special exhibitions? Why do cabarets and small stages have to keep their doors shut? They could provide Swiss artists with the opportunity to perform and, at the same time, delight a small but certainly grateful audience.

A concert streamed on the internet is no replacement for live events. There is no interaction, no joint experience of an artistic performance which leads to a cross-fertilisation of both sides, performers and audience, that actually makes a concert the memorable occasion it should be.

Meanwhile, concerts with no audiences are organised such as the “ghost festival”: A festival with about 300 bands, with nearly 1,300 music creators including technicians, engineers, bookers, managers and other parties contributing, which actually does not take place simply because nobody can go there. SUISA does support such a “non-festival” with sponsoring but also via ticket sales by its staff.

Cultural and creative industries are relevant

Many event organisers and promoters had worked out reliable precautionary and protective measures in the summer months of 2020 and implemented them with additional costs that were not always insignificant. Now, they are virtually facing an occupational ban. Practically nothing has been permitted any more for a total period of more than six months . The corona bans and prohibitions led to huge financial losses. The Confederation and the cantons may have adopted support programmes, but they have not been well adapted to the situation of the many freelance artists and the event organisers or promoters who are sole traders.

Where does the low regard for the cultural sector stem from?

There is obviously no cultural awareness among the decision makers in politics and administration. Despite a new study of Ernst & Young (EY) showing that the cultural sector is in fourth place regarding the number of employees in Europe: www.rebuilding-europe.eu

We therefore call upon persons with political and administrative control and institutions alike: Culture is vital! It is an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. Allow it to flourish, even in times of a lockdown! It delights people, gives them a perspective beyond the pandemic and particularly gives the artists a livelihood.

Create more differentiated rules: Small events and events with a reduced audience size must be possible, just like open museums, cultural venues, where interested people and artists can meet and experience something together, naturally in compliance with the health regulations. Such places are just as important for society and everyday life as shops where you can buy your everyday provisions. Scientific research has proven that no increased danger exists at cultural events with good precautionary measures with regards to a further spread of the corona virus: more information on this can be read in the study on aerosoles of the Fraunhofer Institute at the Konzerthaus Dortmund (Dortmund Concert Hall) and the closing report of the trial operations of the Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) with increased audience numbers.

Anchoring cultural awareness more firmly

The corona crisis has revealed something else with respect to culture: Only after events were prohibited and thus disappeared, many have become aware how important culture and entertainment is for us humans and how uplifting cultural exchange between artistic creators and the audience is for both sides.

This cultural awareness should become anchored among the Swiss population more firmly. Starting with education: Young people should be led to the arts through education and through enabling access to cultural achievements. While a few things have been accomplished via the Initiative Jugend & Musik (Youth & Music) there is still a lot to be done, in particular in the other creative genres than just music.

Society’s interest in music, the visual arts, film, literature, dance and performance arts is expanded by stimulating personal creation and promoting the facilitation of current artistic production and artistic heritage. The more people come into contact with artistic forms of expression, the more the need for art and culture will grow. Which ultimately leads to society demanding in a more sustainable manner that this need is satisfied and the necessary conditions for that are created and provided.

A joint strong voice for culture is necessary

In order to increase and more firmly anchor the need for art and culture, the cultural institutions of this country must get together and jointly and more vehemently demand and promote the dissemination of cultural creation.

The “Taskforce Culture” is a joint strong voice which has been heard for the first time during the pandemic. Over the last few months, this task force has, as a discussion partner for politicians and officials, already managed rather well to gather and bundle the forces from the most diverse cultural genres, from artist associations to event organisers and cultural mediators and to stand up for culturally specific concerns. The message has, after all, not hit home with everyone that artistic creation has different requirements to working in many production or service sectors.

A fusion of cultural institutions and associations which, similarly to the large trade associations and workers’ organisations, can take on an important role as a contact for societal and political developments in Switzerland. Such a strong, joint voice for culture is going to get additional relevance in the coming months and years. The public sector will have to make extremely drastic spending cuts because the national economy has suffered and continues to suffer from immense damage due to the fight against the pandemic by way of prohibitions and bans. Future tax collections will decrease while the national debt will increase due to the support measures.

How quickly the savings lever has been applied to culture and education sectors first during financially difficult situations is something we have witnessed already. Together, cultural associations and institutions can raise their voice and see to it that, in the mid- to long-term, the societal and political significance of art and culture is strengthened and respected. For artistic forms of expression and the access to them must of course be recognised as a basic need of people. You cannot and you must not lock them away.

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Support for SUISA members during the corona crisisSupport for SUISA members during the corona crisis Following the federal COVID-19 ordinances, music usage plummeted depriving authors and publishers of a significant portion of their royalty revenues. SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings. Read more
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  1. Markus Hefti says:

    Unverhältnismässige und existenzbedrohende Beschlüsse „ unserer „
    Politiker schüren das Unverständnis in der Bevölkerung. Aber da sie nie für ihre Fehler
    zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden ist es ihnen scheinbar Egal ☹️

    • Danke für Ihren Kommentar. Dass es Massnahmen gegen die Covid-19-Pandemie braucht, stellen wir nicht in Frage. Es braucht allerdings differenziertere Massnahmen, die gewisse Wirtschaftszweige gegenüber anderen nicht benachteiligen.
      Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO

      • Ndiaye says:

        Une contribution de haute facture . La culture inspire de belles ouvertures au monde .
        Alassane ndiaye membre Suisa Sénégal

Leave a Reply

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.

A year ago, on 28 February 2020, the first restrictions for cultural events were adopted. Initially events were limited to 1,000 people, then the first lockdown occurred in mid-March. Thanks to precautionary measures, small rule relaxations were granted in the summer, but they were gradually reversed in autumn. Since mid-January 2021, we have been stuck in the second lockdown: without music events, without access to real – non-virtual – cultural experiences. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Music and culture are part of your daily needs – it’s not enough to just open the food shops!

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO, considers the arts and culture as an essential staple for the cohesion of a society. (Photo: Beat Felber)

In order to stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus, the authorities initiated drastic measures. In principle, service ranges outside your daily needs can only be accessed with difficulty, or they are...read more