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Music in video games: Licensing and Addendum to Rights Administration Agreement

What is a video game without sound? Video games are hard to imagine without music. Many games become huge hits precisely because of their music which is often even released as a separate soundtrack. What is the proper licensing procedure for music in video games and what is the purpose of the new Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement? Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Music in video games: Licensing and Addendum to Rights Administration Agreement

Gaming corner at the internet café: every game has to have the right sound. (Photo: OHishiapply / Shutterstock.com)

The video-game industry has been chalking up continuous growth for years. The corona crisis gave earnings in this sector an additional boost. Never before have so many people consumed video games, whether on their smartphones, tablets, consoles, or PCs.

Although music plays a significant part in this success story, video-game producers have so far only cooperated with collective management organisations in isolated cases. Instead, the producers have worked directly with authors and artists who do not belong to a collective management organisation, which has enabled them to sign what are known as “buy-out dealsˮ.

This is mostly still the case today. To improve its members’ competitive chances in this flourishing market, SUISA has prepared a new addendum to the rights management agreement.

Buy-out
In a buy-out, the author transfers all their rights of use in their works to the producer against payment of a single lump-sum amount. As a result, once the purchase price is paid, the author is not entitled to any further revenues from royalties or neighbouring rights. As a rule, members of collective management organisations cannot sign buy-out agreements because they have transferred their rights of use to their collective management organisation. The very purpose of the collective management organisation is to ensure that its members receive royalties for every new use of their works. Clearly, a compromise had to be found in the case of video games (see text).

Basic principles

What music rights must a video-game producer acquire?

To produce or reproduce a video game, the producer must acquire the following rights:

  • Synchronisation right: This is the right to set an audiovisual work (in this case, a video game) to music. SUISA members (or their publishers) may settle the synchronisation rights directly with the video-game producer.
  • Reproduction and physical distribution rights: These rights are necessary to reproduce a musical work on a video or data carrier and to distribute the recording thereafter. SUISA manages the reproduction and distribution rights. The new addendum provides that these rights may be excluded from the rights administration agreement (for more, see the section “New Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement for SUISA members”).
  • Online rights (download and streaming): Nowadays, most games are also – or only – sold on Internet for the buyer to download. In order to make a game available for downloading, the video-game producer or the online distributor (e.g. the platforms Steam or Origin) need to acquire a downloading licence.
    Certain video games can only be played by streaming on a browser, for example. This then requires a streaming licence.
    SUISA manages these online rights. Such rights cannot be excluded from the rights administration agreement by the addendum.
  • Neighbouring rights: Neighbouring rights are the rights of the performers and the rights in the sound recording. These two rights are collectively referred to as “Master Rights”.
    Authors who play their compositions themselves and produce their own recordings may licence these rights, as a performer and recording producer combined, directly to the video-game producer for all uses. Otherwise, the owner of the Master Rights must license them separately to the video-game producer. SUISA does not manage these rights.

For legal questions relating to video games, please contact our Legal Department: legalservices (at) suisa (dot) ch

New Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement for SUISA members

Buy-outs are, as we stated above, customary practice for video-game producers. This has repeatedly placed SUISA members at a competitive disadvantage on the video-game music market because of their membership. Producers have preferred to work with authors who do not belong to a collective management organisation and who can therefore freely dispose of their rights.

The new addendum is designed to eliminate the competitive disadvantage for our members while maintaining the basic fundamentals of collective management. Since buy-outs cannot be reconciled with the basic principles of fair and usage-based remuneration, SUISA has opted for a compromise solution.

The new addendum to the rights administration agreement enables SUISA members for the first time to settle the synchronisation, reproduction, and distribution rights for commissioned compositions in one package directly with the video-game producers. At the same time, SUISA will continue to manage online uses like downloads or streamings – as is also the case in the film sector.

All other rights of use remain with SUISA in accordance with the rights administration agreement. Thus, when music from a video game is broadcast on the radio or performed at events, for example, SUISA will assert the rights of its member composer.

In practice, for the reproduction and distribution rights to be excluded from the rights administration agreement, the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • the work must be a commissioned composition. Pre-existing works that have already been published cannot be excluded from the rights administration agreement.
  • • When the work is commissioned, the following particulars must be communicated to SUISA:
    • title of the work and video game;
    • playing time of the work;
    • name and address of the principal;
    • name and address of the game producer;
    • nature and aim of the game.
  • The exclusion cannot apply to games which are used by a company for advertising, sponsoring or other purposes in association with presentations about the company itself or its products and services.

The Addendum can be obtained from the Members’ Department: authors (at) suisa (dot) ch

Licences and tariffs

What fees does SUISA apply for online uses?

Online platforms (domestic*)

These licence fees apply to online platforms offering video games for streaming or downloading.

Downloads 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
Generally CHF 500 per 100,000 downloads or streams
Subscription 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
CHF 0.15 per subscriber per month

*The licensing for international platforms like Steam, Uplay, Playstation Store etc. is handled through our subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing AG.

Other online uses (e.g. game-playing via live-streaming or browser)

The following licence fees only apply if the producer or publisher itself distributes the game (e.g. via its own website):

General 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
A. Music only in the game menu and intro or outro sequences
CHF 400 per 100,000 downloads or streams
B. Games with in-game background music
CHF 500 per 100,000 downloads or streams
C. Games with a focus on music
CHF 600 per 100,000 downloads or streams
Advertising games 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
A. Music only in the game menu and intro or outro sequences
CHF 800 per 100,000 downloads or streams
B. Games with in-game background music
CHF 1,000 per 100,000 downloads or streams
C. Games with a focus on music
CHF 1,200 per 100,000 downloads or streams

What fees does SUISA apply for reproduction and distribution rights?

Since video games are audiovisual productions, Tariff VI applies. The main points of this tariff are:

Physical reproduction for sale

  • 3.3% of the retail sales price, or of costs (if the game is distributed for free)
  • 4.4% of the actual invoiced price (AIP) if the customer has concluded a multiannual contract with SUISA covering royalty settlements and can furnish to SUISA the breakdown of its sales with the number of units and sales price per audiovisual recording per accounting period. The AIP is the price invoiced by the customer to the retailer or, if the customer does not distribute the recordings itself, the actual wholesale price invoiced by the customer’s official distributor.
  • The applicable rate is reduced as follows:
    storage space of the protected music to total storage capacity of the carrier
    (e.g. 500 MB protected music to 2000 MB storage capacity of the carrier = 75% fee reduction)
  • Minimum fee:
    29 centimes per game with music, regardless of its playing time,
    2.2 centimes per minute of music and per audiovisual recording, subject to a maximum of 29 centimes per audiovisual recording if the customer provides SUISA with an accurate breakdown of the music in the game.

Special case: Commissioned music by SUISA members

If a member of SUISA composes commissioned music for a game and signs the Video Game Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement, the licence fee can be negotiated directly with the game producer without involving SUISA.

Production music mark-up

The use of production music managed by SUISA is subject to the following mark-ups:

  • for the synchronisation right: 50%
  • for neighbouring rights:
    • 50% of the total remuneration for the reproduction rights under Tariff VI (see above) and the synchronisation rights if the game is distributed only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
    • 100% of the total remuneration for the reproduction rights under Tariff VI (see above) and the synchronisation rights if the game is distributed internationally.

For video-game licensing or inquiries, please contact: customerservices (at) suisa (dot) ch

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What is a video game without sound? Video games are hard to imagine without music. Many games become huge hits precisely because of their music which is often even released as a separate soundtrack. What is the proper licensing procedure for music in video games and what is the purpose of the new Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement? Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Music in video games: Licensing and Addendum to Rights Administration Agreement

Gaming corner at the internet café: every game has to have the right sound. (Photo: OHishiapply / Shutterstock.com)

The video-game industry has been chalking up continuous growth for years. The corona crisis gave earnings in this sector an additional boost. Never before have so many people consumed video games, whether on their smartphones, tablets, consoles, or PCs.

Although music plays a significant part in this success story, video-game producers have so...read more

Two years of pandemic have passed financially smoothly for SUISA – new challenges ahead

After two difficult years for SUISA and authors and publishers due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to face threats and difficult times. A war in Europe is destroying the foundations of peaceful coexistence. Culture, and thus also the creators of music, as a unifying and peace-building element, are called upon. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Two years of pandemic have passed financially smoothly for SUISA – new challenges ahead

In view of the war in Ukraine, it is worth remembering that music can be a unifying and peace-making element of coexistence. (Photo: Oleh Dubyna / Shutterstock.com)

Despite the event bans imposed by the authorities, SUISA has been able to achieve a respectable result, even in the past two years. The overall decrease in revenue in 2020 and in 2021 only amounted to 10%, compared to the best-ever result in 2019. At the same time, we were able to achieve savings on the cost side, in particular thanks to accelerated process automation. This stabilised the drop in terms of the distributable amount. It is 1% higher than in 2020. High secondary income also allows us to pay an additional 7% distribution on all 2022 settlements again.

In order to provide quick help to members who got into difficulties due to the pandemic and therefore received less money from SUISA, the General Assembly 2020 decided to set up a relief fund. This fund still exists, many distribution results continue to be bad in this year, too, and the respective requests can be addressed to the membership department.

Especially during the pandemic, it was important to be there for our customers and members, in many cases electronically, via web forms on the internet, but also e-mails and, just like before, by phone or letter. We are also expanding our electronic communication channels further. They are a central component of good member and customer service, with the aim of enabling contact with SUISA 24/7 via the internet, thus saving costs for all parties involved.

Successful investments in new business areas

Today, music is not only performed and enjoyed in a live environment. During the pandemic, it has become clear that it is vital to diversify and branch out into other music exploitation areas. Many new presentation possibilities and uses on the internet, especially by means of streaming, could establish themselves over time and have become new and popular platforms for the sale of recorded music.

Since 2016, SUISA has invested in the development of the new business areas with its subsidiaries SUISA Digital Licensing and together with the American organisation SESAC at Mint Digital Services. Mint now manages the repertoire of over 3,500 American independent publishers, 14 collective management organisations from four continents, and the rights of BMG Rights Management in Asia and Australia. Licensing agreements have been signed with over 70 music providers worldwide. The possibilities for direct licensing of SUISA’s repertoire abroad are to be further exploited. In many cases, this means that SUISA’s authors and publishers can benefit from higher revenues which are paid out faster.

New challenges – the war in Europe

SUISA will be celebrating its centenary next year. The anniversary general meeting is scheduled to take place in Zurich on Friday, 23 June 2023 and to be followed by celebrations. Until then and beyond, we are to meet new challenges and further expand our existing services.

Music can be a unifying and peace-making element of coexistence and will continue to find and delight its audience. However, it should also provide its authors and musicians with a financial livelihood. With Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, peace in Europe is highly endangered. A relationship that has been built up over many years with the countries in Eastern Europe and with the authors over there is in danger of being damaged. The exchange among authors and also among the collective management organisation (CMO) is also severely endangered by the armed conflicts.

SUISA wants to do its part to ensure that the ties established with its sister organisation in Ukraine are not severed. 50,000 Swiss francs were allocated to the support fund of CISAC, our international umbrella organisation of CMOs, for emergency aid to musicians in the war zone and to Poland, which is providing an overwhelming amount of support work here. All efforts must be made for a peaceful solution and for the functioning and continued existence of the collective management organisation NGO UACCR in Ukraine.

But those who now condemn all Russian culture are acting blindly, just like the warring parties. Let us believe in the peace-making potential of music and in those who perform or enjoy music together, regardless of which country they come from.

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  1. Eric says:

    Thanks for the informative article!
    I can agree with exactly that….

    Best regards

    Eric

Leave a Reply

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After two difficult years for SUISA and authors and publishers due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to face threats and difficult times. A war in Europe is destroying the foundations of peaceful coexistence. Culture, and thus also the creators of music, as a unifying and peace-building element, are called upon. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Two years of pandemic have passed financially smoothly for SUISA – new challenges ahead

In view of the war in Ukraine, it is worth remembering that music can be a unifying and peace-making element of coexistence. (Photo: Oleh Dubyna / Shutterstock.com)

Despite the event bans imposed by the authorities, SUISA has been able to achieve a respectable result, even in the past two years. The overall decrease in revenue in 2020 and in 2021 only amounted to 10%, compared to the best-ever result in 2019. At the same time, we were...read more

Background on SUISA Digital’s lawsuit against Snapchat operators

Today, SUISA Digital Licensing (SUISA Digital) announced that it is suing Snap for copyright infringement. Snap operates the successful platform Snapchat. In a written interview, Fabian Niggemeier, CEO of SUISA Digital, comments on the background of the lawsuit. Interview by Giorgio Tebaldi

Background on SUISA Digitalʼs lawsuit against Snapchat operators

Snapchat offers its users the possibility of adding music to their messages. Very few authors receive any remuneration from Snap, the operator of Snapchat, for this. (Photo: Postmodern Studio / Shutterstock)

Fabian Niggemeier, why is SUISA Digital suing Snap?
Like every online platform that makes music available to its users, Snap also requires a license for Snapchat in order to be able to use this music commercially. However, Snap does not own a license for our repertoire and does not pay any compensation to the creators and publishers we represent for the music in the videos on Snapchat. Thus, Snap is clearly in violation of copyright law, which is why we filed a lawsuit against the company.

Was there no other way to get Snap to pay copyright royalties?
Unfortunately, there was no other option. We conduct contract negotiations with every online music provider – we now have such contracts with around 80 providers. We have also been trying to negotiate such a contract with Snap for about two years. So far, the attempts have been unsuccessful. Snap takes the position that they do not use any of our authorsʼ and publishersʼ songs. But we can prove that this statement is false. In fact, there are thousands of songs available on Snapchat that have been composed and written by creators and publishers who have entrusted us with their rights.

Snap introduced the new “Sounds” feature for Snapchat – embedding music in Snaps – some time ago. At launch, Snap stated that it had entered into licensing agreements with rights holders for this offering. Does Snap not pay any royalties to other collecting societies? Is SUISA Digital an isolated case?
Unfortunately, we donʼt know. We only know that Snap offers the works of numerous authors and publishers, who are represented by us, to users on the Snapchat service and thus reproduces them publicly. Snap has not acquired a license for this.

How much compensation does Snap have to pay for the use of the works of the authors and publishers represented by SUISA Digital?
We are yet to calculate the exact amount. Unfortunately, we currently lack the necessary information for this. One demand of our lawsuit is therefore that Snap discloses Snapchatʼs revenues and streaming figures without restriction and without gaps. Based on these figures, we will calculate the actual amount of compensation owed.

What does this lawsuit mean for Snapchat users? Will the repertoire represented by SUISA Digital be blocked?
There is no reason for a blocking of the repertoire we represent as long as Snap abides by the rules. So far, our repertoire can only be accessed illegally on Snapchat. We appeal to Snap, for the benefit of its users, to talk to us about licensing our repertoire and not to escalate the situation any further.

SUISA Digital is a Liechtenstein company owned by a Swiss cooperative, but the lawsuit is being brought before the Hamburg Regional Court. Why?
There are several reasons. SUISA Digital represents copyrights not just for uses in Switzerland and Liechtenstein but for the whole of Europe. Therefore, it is possible to institute proceedings in a large German-speaking country. The markets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein are too small for a lawsuit to have any external effect here. Lastly there is always the risk in a small market like Liechtenstein that Snap would take its service off the market. This scenario is extremely unlikely in the case of a lawsuit in Germany.

PRESS RELEASE: SUISA Digital suing Snapchat for copyright infringement

SUISA Digital Licensing
The music licensing organisation SUISA Digital Licensing (SUISA Digital for short) is a subsidiary of SUISA, the cooperative society for authors and publishers of music in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. SUISA Digital, having its registered office in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, represents the online rights to musical works by composers, lyricists and publishers from 15 copyright societies and several publishers worldwide. SUISA Digital licenses internet platforms worldwide and has contracts with over 80 online service providers, amongst others Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music or Meta (formerly Facebook).
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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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Today, SUISA Digital Licensing (SUISA Digital) announced that it is suing Snap for copyright infringement. Snap operates the successful platform Snapchat. In a written interview, Fabian Niggemeier, CEO of SUISA Digital, comments on the background of the lawsuit. Interview by Giorgio Tebaldi

Background on SUISA Digitalʼs lawsuit against Snapchat operators

Snapchat offers its users the possibility of adding music to their messages. Very few authors receive any remuneration from Snap, the operator of Snapchat, for this. (Photo: Postmodern Studio / Shutterstock)

Fabian Niggemeier, why is SUISA Digital suing Snap?
Like every online platform that makes music available to its users, Snap also requires a license for Snapchat in order to be able to use this music commercially. However, Snap does not own a license for our repertoire and does not pay any compensation to the creators and publishers we represent for the...read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The panelists are:

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

The panel will be moderated by Nina Havel.

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

The 2022 M4music Festival

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

www.m4music.ch

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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

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

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

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

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

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

International rules on how to deal with “residuals”

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

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

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

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

Changes to the SUISA distribution rules

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

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

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

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

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  1. Durussel André says:

    Merci pour ces informations claires et intéressantes

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

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

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

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

Livestream licensing by SUISA

Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought in revenues of USD 44m.

These online events regularly fuel debate in the media, as well as between music creators and, naturally, the organisers of livestreaming events. More often than not, discussions revolve around the licensing terms and conditions for the necessary livestreaming rights.

What is a livestream?

A livestream is an event that is aired individually and in real time over the internet. The audience can log in at the start of the event and follow the event live – for free or for a fee. Livestreams should be distinguished from on-demand offers where spectators can choose to view the content at the time of their choice. Moreover, a livestream is not a broadcast, where contents are also transmitted in real time, but as programmes in a succession of broadcasts and not as individual events. A livestreaming licence is required for any individual event that is simultaneously recorded and streamed over the internet where the audience cannot freely choose when to view it.

Livestream licensing conditions are based on performance tariffs

Since streamed events are generally events that could just as well be staged live in the presence of an audience or performed by way of replacement for such events, the licensing terms are based on the terms and conditions of the relevant performance tariffs. Accordingly, the same percentage rate will apply to a streamed concert as that applied to a concert performed with a physical audience under Common Tariff K (CT K). Proceeding by analogy with the performance tariffs ensures that organisers of virtual and physical concerts are treated on an equal footing since their events tend to be reciprocal substitutes.

Licensing conditions distinguish between different categories: concerts, DJ sets, shows and ballet performances, and theatrical plays. The relevant rate is applied to revenues or costs as provided in the performance tariffs (CT K and CT Hb). Also in accordance with the latter, rates are adjusted proportionately with the duration of the protected music used (pro rata temporis rule). In addition to these categories, other classes of events, such as sports events, evening entertainment, seminars, religious services, events in homes and hospitals, etc. are grouped under “other events” – in this case, a flat rate of 2% of gross revenues or costs is applied.

If revenues are less than the gross cost, or if there are no revenues, the above rates are applied to total costs. As in the case of the performance tariffs, music-related gross costs are deducted. These costs consist of the following: musicians’ fees and expenses, rental of sound and recording equipment (microphones, mixing console, camera, etc.), instrument rental, and rent for the location.

Events with an audience that are additionally streamed

Live events are often staged with a small physical audience and simultaneously aired over the internet to extend their reach. In such cases, the organiser will need a “normal” licence for the performance rights and an additional licence for the livestream. As a rule, this means that, in addition to the fees charged under the performance tariff, the minimum fee CHF 40 will be charged for the livestream, since the revenues or costs of the event are already taken into account in the performance licensing fee. However, if the livestream generates separate revenues, the licence fees for the livestream will be charged on that basis.

Viewing streams after the live event

Many livestream organisers leave recordings of the stream on the internet for a certain period time after the live event; these recordings can be subsequently called up and viewed by people who missed the livestream at the official time. Provided the livestream was properly declared and licensed, SUISA allows it to be stored for subsequent viewing for a flat fee of CHF 100 in the case of concerts and DJ sets – for all other types of events the flat fee is CHF 50.

What rights are covered by the licence?

For organisers established in Switzerland or Liechtenstein whose streams are primarily intended for a domestic (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) audience, SUISA can licence the rights for the world repertoire. In the case of international organisers whose streams are intended for audiences including Switzerland and Liechtenstein, SUISA can licence the world repertoire for uses in our territory; in this case, the licence fees will be calculated only on the basis of the sales realised in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In the livestream area, SUISA only manages authors’ musical copyrights. For all other rights, e.g. neighbouring rights or synchronisation rights, users should contact the relevant rightholders.

Livestreams with music must be registered with SUISA

Please refer to our website for the licensing terms and conditions, application form, and further information about livestreams:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/online/video/live-streams.html

To complete your application, the following information is required:

  • customer’s contact particulars
  • category of the livestream
  • livestream particulars title, duration, date, website URL, number of views
  • total revenues
  • (gross) costs
  • Will the event be recorded and stored for subsequent viewing? (yes/no)
  • list of musical works contained in the livestream

A licence is also required for livestreams produced via an external platform and embedded on your own website (e.g. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Youtube Live or Twitch).

The rules governing current temporary exceptions in the livestream area proceeding from federal measures to combat the corona pandemic are also published on our website:
www.suisa.ch/en/suisa/measures-corona-pandemic/information-for-customers.html

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Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought...read more

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

The tariffs that are being negotiated now, during the corona crisis, are intended to apply in better times when music will hopefully be played again. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The dynamics have changed. Talks are now held mostly by videoconference. In other words, human relations take place through an interposed screen. This makes it more difficult to observe non-verbal reactions to a proposal, or simply to understand one’s counterparts. We must adapt … and regret the days when a handshake symbolised agreement.

Moreover, the crisis tends to freeze negotiating positions. On the one hand, the economy is in trouble: large events are banned, and the country goes from lockdown, to unlockdown, to re-lockdown. On the other, artists’ and creators’ revenues are in free fall. Under the circumstances, it is more difficult to make concessions and reach a compromise. Everyone is determined to protect what little they have left.

So what strategy should SUISA now adopt?

Firstly, certain sectors are clearly less impacted by the crisis than others. Online usages, for example, are not lagging: people are too scared – or are not allowed – to go to the cinema, so they watch a film on VoD. Music streaming is also doing well. These are therefore the areas SUISA should focus on to negotiate the best terms for its members. Who, for their part, are having a truly hard time.

“It is our duty today to prepare for the future and to support the equitable implementation of legal principles in favour of our members.”

We must, however, avoid one pitfall. In many areas, the fall in users’ revenues automatically has negative consequences for authors: after all, authors’ royalties are calculated as a percentage of users’ revenues. Users should not take advantage of the crisis to obtain better terms from SUISA. Otherwise authors will lose twice. We have had to remind our partners of this.

But the hard truth is that the live entertainment sector is in agony. Last spring, we interrupted certain negotiations hoping to start them again when the sun came back. After a short reprieve, the clouds are now building up again … and the tariff process takes time. Now, at the end of 2020, we are negotiating tariffs which will only come into force in 2022 when (as we dare hope) the crisis will be well behind us. It is our duty today to prepare for the future and to support the equitable implementation of legal principles in favour of our members. That is certainly not easy when our partners are losing money. But it is our responsibility for a better future.

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Leave a Reply

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

Your email address will not be published.

Negotiating is one of SUISA’s key functions. SUISA negotiates tariffs and contracts inter alia. It must safeguard the interests of its members, ensure their legitimate demands are understood and accepted, and obtain the best possible terms for musical creation. It does this through discussion and compromise: in a nutshell, through human relations. But last spring, a new player invited itself to the negotiating table: Covid-19. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Negotiating in the age of corona … and with corona

The tariffs that are being negotiated now, during the corona crisis, are intended to apply in better times when music will hopefully be played again. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

The dynamics have changed. Talks are now held mostly by videoconference. In other words, human relations take place through an interposed screen. This makes it more difficult to observe non-verbal reactions to...read more

Online licensing activities require early work registrations

From a sales perspective, online music distribution provides enormous opportunities. With little effort, music can be made available to a global audience within an instant. The distribution of copyright royalties, however, is complex when it comes to online usages. This is also due to the fact that the processes differ from those for performing and broadcasting rights. The most important advice is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, then publish it online. Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger

Online licensing activities require early work registrations

If you distribute your music via an online provider, it will be advantageous if you stick to the following rule of thumb: First, register the work with SUISA, then publish it online. (Photo: Anutr Yossundara / Shutterstock.com)

When it comes to the internet, trade activities are not halted by national borders. Especially in cases when the goods are not physical but only purely digital in terms of their transport from the provider to the customer – as is the case for music. Online music providers such as Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube take their products directly to the audience via streaming or download: On its journey between the internet platform and the playback devices of the listeners, the music product does not pass customs, nor are there any intermediaries (apart from the telecoms provider of the internet access).

The following is decisive in this chain of commerce: When it comes to online music-distribution, territorial limitations have not only been lifted to a great extent for the consumer but also with regards to the licensing of the copyright. The distribution process differs fundamentally from the existing practice in the “offline sector”, i.e. for performing or broadcasting rights or the licensing of sound recordings. SUISA only issues licences for the territory of Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein in the offline sector, but for all works that have been used, including those of the members of our sister societies abroad. Reciprocal representation agreements ensure that the members of other sister societies obtain the share in the works that have been used in Switzerland. The same also applies vice versa: If works by SUISA members are performed abroad, the sister society in charge for the territory in question collects the remuneration and passes it to SUISA for onward distribution to its rightsholders.

This works differently in the online sector. Another practice has established itself since the Recommendation of the EU Competition Commission from 2005, according to which more competition should be created during the online exploitation of copyright. The corresponding EU Directive which was determined five years ago states that each rightsholder can choose for their online licences whether they want to issue them directly or whether they wish to instruct a partner such as a collective management organisation of their choice to manage them across Europe (also known as pan-European).

SUISA active since 2012 for online direct licensing

The major music publishers have assigned the rights management for the shares in their works on a cross-border basis 10 years ago. This type of licensing is called direct licensing. In the field of cross-border usages, rightsholders, i.e. publishers or collective management organisations, specifically account the royalties for their repertoire directly with the “Digital Service Providers” (in short: DSPs) such as Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube. This means: If users abroad listen to works by SUISA members on platforms by the online music providers, SUISA collects the remuneration for such usages directly from the provider. There are no more “intermediaries” between SUISA and the Digital Service Provider as it exists in the traditional offline sector by way of a foreign sister society.

Many societies in Europe have already transitioned to this global direct licensing practice of their members’ works. Since 2012, SUISA has been licensing the rights of its members not only for Switzerland but also for other territories on a cross-border basis, and that with a constantly increasing number of online music providers. In the beginning, these included the European countries, since 2018, more and more territories are added outside of Europe. In the meantime, SUISA is usually issuing global licences to the DSPs with the exception of the following: USA, Canada, South America, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Syria and Australasia. There are plans, however, to expand into these territories in the future.

Direct licensing has had the consequence that SUISA could only issue licence invoices for works for which it had the relevant documentation, since it is the individual work share that is now relevant, not just the fact whether an author is a SUISA member or not.

Nevertheless, it happens often that Digital Service Providers receive invoices from several collective management organisations for shares in the same work. This leads to so-called “overclaims” or “underclaims”. Such overclaims or underclaims (in terms of rights) result from a lack of clarity among the societies issuing the invoices who can claim the remuneration for which shares in a work in which territory for their principals. There is often also a situation of “no claims” i.e. when no society issues an invoice.

This has led to a scenario where the providers paid rightsholders more than the agreed remuneration in the case of “overclaims” and too little or nothing in the case of “underclaims” or “no claims”. There are also Service Providers which withhold the payment in the case of “overclaims”. If thus the claims of all invoicing collective management organisations for a work exceed 100% (shares), no royalties are paid as long as it is not defined who is actually permitted to invoice for which share.

Invoicing process with online music providers

A working group of the collective management organisations, major publisher and the most important online music providers has taken care of this issue and agreed to the following solution:

Issuing invoices to a DSP happens in several steps. The collective management organisation receives usage data from the DSP. Based on these usage reports, which contain a period of one or three months, the provider receives an invoice for all work shares in titles for which the society holds the usage rights of an author or a publisher. If the invoices that have been issued by various collective management organisations do not match for one work title, so-called “disputes” arise.

The societies have 18 months to resolve such conflicts of claims. Within said period, SUISA checks the data of the usage reports once more and compares it with the updated SUISA work documentation. If, during this search, new correlating entries are detected, they will be invoiced retroactively. Whatever has not been resolved after 18 months shall fall under the so-called “residuals”; this is the licensing remuneration for work shares which have not or only partially been invoiced (“underclaims” and “no claims”).

The “residuals”, the remuneration that has not been claimed from the DSP from “underclaims” and “no claims” shall be paid out by SUISA as a supplement to the works used in the same distribution period. A work that has not been registered at that point could therefore not receive a supplement.

Register the work first, then publish it online

The most important advice for SUISA members who make their compositions available via online music distribution channels, is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, do not publish it online before!

If you follow this rule of thumb, you create a basis whereby works can be detected from the beginning in online usage reports and can be invoiced to the Digital Service Providers. The distribution process with the online music providers is subject to deadlines and the attention of the audience on the internet is often rather ephemeral. When you register works too late, there is the risk that usages are not detected and royalties cannot be allocated.

If the work registration takes place before the first recording of the work is published for streaming or downloading, SUISA can claim the work shares with the Digital Service Providers from the very beginning. In order to enable a simple automatic identification, the metadata of the works registration should be the same as the data which the DSP has for the work.

Metadata is additional information and particulars which describes other data in more detail. Thanks to such additional information, it is possible to determine and thus find individual elements during searches within big data volumes. A musical work title ideally comprises, apart from the usual details on composer, lyricist, publisher etc., information on the performer(s), and, if applicable, alternative work titles of versions in other languages as well as remix/edit versions, such as “song title – radio edit” or “song title – extended version”. Complete and correct metadata provides a great advantage when it comes to finding a concordance during the automated matching of the usage reports with the works database.

These requirements are vital for a work to be correctly distributed in all of the territories directly licensed by SUISA and with all of the online music providers directly licensed by SUISA.

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  1. Claire Chalut says:

    Vous ne parlez que de “Apple Music”, “Spotify” et “Youtube” (cette dernière plateforme touche surtout la VIDEO et quid ? de “Soundcloud” (destinée à l’audio). Qu’en est-il avec “Soundcloud” ? (qui est beaucoup utilisé), avez-vous des relations avec eux ??? ET, comment ?? Merci de votre réponse.

    Autre remarque (qui n’a rien à voir avec cet article) : comment se fait-il que l’on ne retrouve pas les oeuvres déposées dans votre banque de données (souvent il est réponde “inconnu” ou “pas trouvé”, etc.

    C. Chalout

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.

From a sales perspective, online music distribution provides enormous opportunities. With little effort, music can be made available to a global audience within an instant. The distribution of copyright royalties, however, is complex when it comes to online usages. This is also due to the fact that the processes differ from those for performing and broadcasting rights. The most important advice is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, then publish it online. Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger

Online licensing activities require early work registrations

If you distribute your music via an online provider, it will be advantageous if you stick to the following rule of thumb: First, register the work with SUISA, then publish it online. (Photo: Anutr Yossundara / Shutterstock.com)

When it comes to the internet, trade activities are not halted by national...read more

“The crisis feels a little like being in a rehab clinic to me”

During the corona crisis, via its project “Music for Tomorrow”, SUISA is providing a platform for some members to report on their work and the challenges they are facing during this period. This time round, the Valaisian musician and songwriter Tanya Barany tells us why she hopes that people in this crisis have focussed their awareness of things like care, appreciation, solidarity or reflection and exclusively performs her song “Cotton Clouds”. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Tanya Barany, complemented by Nina Müller

“Dark like my British humour, but with a touch of fresh mountain air,” is how Tanya Barany describes her “Dark Pop”. Born and grown up in the Upper Valais, Tanja Zimmermann, that is what she is actually called, found her way to music at an early age: “I’ve been singing, dancing and performing all my life. The stages have simply become a bit bigger over time,” she says in a written interview. “What was once my bed has mutated into a Gampel Open Air stage.” Her musical career began with her first solo appearance with guitar at a children’s hit parade at the age of 11. At the age of 14 she founded the girl power trio Labyrinthzero, with which she released her first EP with her own compositions and played over 150 concerts at home and abroad.

Found a musical home

Decisive for her musical career was the encounter with Jonas Ruppen, who plays keyboard in her band and creates the videos: “He showed me the world of Radiohead, James Blake, etc. – and suddenly I had found my musical home!” The two have been playing music together for ten years now and work together on the overall concept of “Tanya Barany” – Tanya as songwriter and Jonas as video producer.

She began her musical education in 2014 by studying music at the Zurich University of the Arts, where she says that she was able to benefit from great teachers. “At the same time, I learned how to use the recording program LogicX, which took my songwriting in a completely different direction – my ‘Dark Pop’ saw the light of day!”

The debut album “Lights Disappear”

In 2019, Tanya Barany’s debut album “Lights Disappear” was released. Several performances on stages at home and abroad followed, e.g. Gampel Open Air, Zermatt Unplugged, Swiss Live Talents or at the Blue Balls Festival.

Besides her project Tanya Barany, she is a full-time studio singer and musician, songwriter, lyricist and vocal coach.

“Cotton Clouds”

For “Music for Tomorrow” Tanya Barany performed and recorded the song “Cotton Clouds”. She says the following about the work: “‘Cotton Clouds’ describes the feeling of immersion in water where suddenly everything around becomes silent; where suddenly another world appears. One the one hand, the water walls are depressing (almost oppressive), on the other hand they remind us of the security of an embrace. ‘Cotton Clouds’ is my unreleased hidden track. Like my songs on the album ‘Lights Disappear’, ‘Cotton Clouds’ grew out of the dark corner of my heart, but the track didn’t find a place on the album. I had composed ‘Cotton Clouds’ on the piano at that time; I prefer to play the piano alone for myself, without anyone listening to me. I chose ‘Cotton Clouds’ for ‘Music for Tomorrow’, because I want to invite the audience into my little lounge and take you on a little personal journey … :-)”

Tanya Barany, what does your working day as a composer/lyricist look like during the corona pandemic?
Tanya Barany: At the moment, I have more time to convert my song ideas into finished songs. Therefore, I try to generate as much output as possible – not only for me as Tanya Barany, but also as a ghostwriter for other artists. My partner, David Friedli – also a musician and composer – and I often write together. We move in all possible style directions – from folk to rock to pop to electro pop to soul etc. – it’s really fun!

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
The crisis feels a little like being in a rehab clinic to me. I don’t really want to be there – I miss performing live, cultural life and even planning ahead – who would have thought – and I can’t wait for normality to return.
On the other hand, this crisis also brings something valuable with it: Time! The world just seems to revolve a bit more slowly. Suddenly I am allowed to concentrate on things that are not necessarily on my having to do list but on the nice to do list – that feels incredibly good! This time has made “Reboot” possible, now I feel much more energetic and creative than before the crisis.

How can the audience support you at the moment?
My audience can best support me by telling all my friends and relatives about my music and telling them to buy the “Lights Disappear” CD! :-) Dark songs help through dark times … :-)

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed your music more often?
When selecting live acts, the organisers look at the number of “listeners” on Spotify, YouTube etc. Therefore, it is surely an advantage if my music is streamed regularly on these platforms. It is also nice to see that my songs are even heard on the other side of the world! But to support me as an artist directly, I am always very grateful for purchased music on iTunes etc. or directly at concerts.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
I very much hope that people’s awareness will be sharpened somewhat – on all levels! A little more care, appreciation, solidarity, reflection – that would do us all good!

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
Dear fans, although it seems to be quieter around Tanya Barany at the moment, I’m working diligently in the background on a new concept, so that it will be even more cracking afterwards – so enjoy the calm before the storm! :-) I am already looking forward to presenting you new songs! Thanks for your support so far! Take care <3

www.tanyabarany.ch

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
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Kety Fusco: “This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test”“This situation will put everyone – musicians, technicians, insiders – to the test” With the “Music for tomorrow” project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. The prelude is made by the Ticino composer and harpist Kety Fusco. In a written interview she talks about her everyday life in lockdown and why not that much has actually changed for her. Read more
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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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.

During the corona crisis, via its project “Music for Tomorrow”, SUISA is providing a platform for some members to report on their work and the challenges they are facing during this period. This time round, the Valaisian musician and songwriter Tanya Barany tells us why she hopes that people in this crisis have focussed their awareness of things like care, appreciation, solidarity or reflection and exclusively performs her song “Cotton Clouds”. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Tanya Barany, complemented by Nina Müller

“Dark like my British humour, but with a touch of fresh mountain air,” is how Tanya Barany describes her “Dark Pop”. Born and grown up in the Upper Valais, Tanja Zimmermann, that is what she is actually called, found her way to music at an early age: “I’ve been...read more

Information on live streams for SUISA members

The corona measures led to a loss of performance and earning opportunities for music creators and to a painful loss of live music for music consumers. Live streaming therefore enjoys great popularity, especially in these times, and takes on a pertinent role in the cultural industry. Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Information on live streams for SUISA members

Music via video as a replacement for cancelled concerts: Jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi played his work “We Need To Change” for the series of articles “Music for Tomorrow”; you can listen to it and watch it on the SUISAblog and the social media channels SUISA Music Stories. (Photo: screen shot video Cyril Bondi)

There are numerous possibilities to transmit live streams: The choice ranges from your own website, and social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or Dailymotion, to pure live streaming platforms such as Twitch. In addition, smaller international and national platforms are currently appearing, where music creators can register for live streaming and share any income generated via the platform.

The following guide is intended to provide SUISA members with assistance in the live streaming jungle:

Information for musicians who organise live streams themselves

Do I/we need a licence from SUISA?
Be it as a band, singer-songwriter, orchestra or choir: If you organise a live stream on your own website or social media channel and only perform music that you have written yourself and/or that is in the public domain (the author has died more than 70 years ago), you do not need a licence from SUISA.

But be careful: This type of “own use” or using your own music yourself, on your own web channels, is only allowed if all songs are 100% written by the performers themselves. As soon as third parties are involved in only one of the performed works, it is no longer considered to be a pure type of “own use”. So if there are co-authors who do not participate in the performance of the live stream, or if a publisher has a stake in the song or otherwise performs protected music by others (e.g. cover versions), you need a licence from SUISA in accordance with the “Licensing Terms and Conditions Live Streams”.

An exception applies to non-commercial live streams on social media platforms: These are covered by the agreements concluded by SUISA and other rights management entities with the social media platforms and therefore do not usually need to be licensed separately. SUISA currently has agreements with Youtube and Facebook (including Instagram). SUISA is currently negotiating with Dailymotion, Vimeo and Twitch, to which the same will apply.

Non-commercial in this context means that no money is demanded for the live stream and it is not produced for a company. SUISA also considers donation campaigns whose income is entirely allocated to people in need to be non-commercial.

Livestreams from DJ sets
DJ sets contain not only compositions, but also recordings whose rights are held by the recording company or “labelˮ. Since very few DJs use exclusively self-composed and self-published music, several licenses must usually be obtained for live streams of DJ sets: Copyright requires a licence from SUISA (with the exception of non-commercial live streams on social media, see section “Does it require a licence from SUISA?”) and the rights to the recordings played – the so-called neighbouring rights – require licences from the record companies/labels. For DJ sets on social media, the platforms themselves are responsible for this.
The only platform currently known to SUISA that has signed contracts for DJ live streams with most major labels is Mixcloud.

The live stream of my concert or DJ set on social media was blocked: Why and how can I avoid that this happens?
The reason for content being blocked is usually the performance of third-party music and related to this the lack of a certain licence agreement of the social media platform with a rightsholder (often a label or a publisher). In principle, social media companies are responsible for the content on their platforms and block unlicensed content using audio recognition technologies for their own protection.

The easiest way to avoid content being blocked on social media is to mainly perform self-composed music in the case of a live concert. Due to complex legal reasons, it is recommended that cover bands host the live streams not on social media but on their own website.

DJ sets on social media platforms should be avoided if possible, unless you use your own recordings. The reason for this is that very few labels allow the live streaming of their recordings on social media. Facebook and YouTube, in particular, have mature audio recognition technologies and thus very quickly detect unlicensed recordings. If you leave a recording of the live stream with unlicensed music on the platform, it will be automatically blocked by the software at the very latest.

Can I earn money with my live streams?
You can earn money with your live streams in many different ways:
The simplest form is to offer the live stream against payment. On your own website, for example, you could publish the link to the live stream against payment of a fee. This payment model could also be transferred to social media platforms by providing the live stream only in a closed group to which the audience only gets access for a fee.

At this point in time, classic payment systems such as bank accounts, for example, which are independent of the social media platform, still have to be used. However, it is to be expected that social media platforms will increasingly offer integrated payment solutions with which viewers can pay directly via the platform. For example, Facebook has announced that it will enable direct payments via the Facebook Live Platform.

Other potential sources of income are, for example, advertising breaks or live stream sponsoring. Merchandising articles could also be offered as part of the live stream or voluntary donations could be made possible.

Information for musicians whose live stream is carried out by an organiser

Who can be considered as the organiser or promoter?
Live stream organisers are mainly concert promoters and club companies, but also (media) companies, foundations, associations or other societies are possible.

Where can I access the live streams of these events?
On the one hand on social media, on the other hand also on own platforms, which were created especially for live streaming events. One national example is Artonair. An international example of such a live stream organizer is Stageit.

I was/we were asked for a live stream: Does the organiser have to pay me for my performance?
SUISA is basically of the opinion that engagements for live streams should be compared to engagements for concerts and that a fee is therefore appropriate. This should be regulated in an engagement contract together with the modalities of appearance.

Are the organisers also responsible for the copyright licence fees?
Yes, just as in the offline area, the organisers must take care of the copyright in the performed music. International providers need a licence from each affected rightsholder of the performed music (collecting societies, publishers etc.). A licence from SUISA is sufficient for national providers.

In this context, it is particularly important to study the general terms and conditions of the respective provider and to make sure that you do not grant the organiser any rights which you cannot or do not want to assign. For example, as a SUISA member, you should take special care not to grant performing rights to the organiser, as SUISA will already take care of this for you.

Does SUISA pay a fee for my appearance in a live stream?
If a live stream has been licensed by SUISA to an organiser, the authors and publishers involved in the music can expect to receive corresponding remuneration from SUISA (less the current cost rate of 15%). The amount of compensation depends primarily on whether and how much income has been generated by the organiser. The royalties are distributed on the basis of the programme, the “set listˮ, which the broadcaster submits to SUISA.

Further information:
As a SUISA member, do you have any legal questions or concerns in connection with live streams? Our legal department is happy to advise you on this: legalservices (at) suisa (dot) ch

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  1. WE CAN LIVE on mars - Video Network says:

    Bonjour, avez-vous ces informations disponibles en français et plus particulièrement dans le cadre de live streaming organisés pour le compte de nos clients?

    Merci!

  2. Michael says:

    Wie schaut es bei „nicht-kommerzielle Livestreams” in Bezug mit Gottesdienste aus? Wenn dort Musik gespielt wird und Gesungen als Teil des Gottesdienstes und das auch Live z.b. auf Youtube übertragen wird, inkl. Einbindung von Songtexten zum mitsingen.
    Ist das dann eine nicht-kommerzielle Veranstaltung? Und was ist, wenn in Rahmen dieses Gottesdienstes ein Aufruf zu Spenden, z.b. an Missionsstellen gemacht wird?

    • Guten Tag
      Grundsätzlich werden Livestreams von Kirchen in unserer Praxis mit solchen von Unternehmen gleichgesetzt: Sie benötigen eine Lizenz von der SUISA. Eine Ausnahme gilt momentan für Kirchen, welche bereits eine Vergütung der SUISA auf Basis des Gemeinsamen Tarifs C (GT C) bezahlen. In diesen Fällen erachten wir die Livestreams als bereits abgegolten, sofern diese auf von den Kirchen selbst bewirtschafteten und durch den Tarif GT C abgedeckten Online-Plattformen/-Kanälen übertragen werden. Wenn Kirchen, die keine Vergütung gemäss dem Tarif GT C entrichten, in live gestreamten religiösen Feiern – wozu auch kirchliche Hochzeiten gehören – am Rand der Zeremonie zu Spenden aufrufen, kann der Livestream unter Umständen als nicht-kommerziell behandelt werden. Was das Einblenden von Songtexten betrifft, so muss in jedem Fall eine zusätzliche Lizenz von den Rechteinhabern (in der Regel Verlage) eingeholt werden, da die SUISA diese Rechte nicht vergeben kann – weder direkt, noch über einen Vertrag mit einer Social-Media Plattform.
      Freundliche Grüsse, Michael Wohlgemuth, SUISA Rechtsdienst

  3. M. Badertscher says:

    Was bedeutet “nicht-kommerzielle Livestreams” genau?
    Wenn der Stream für alle sichtbar ist (keine Zugangsbeschränkung), man Musik im Hintergrund laufen lässt und der Zuschauer freiwillig für den Stream etwas bezahlen kann aber nicht muss, dann ist das doch auch kommerziell? Der Streamer verdient ja auch damit. Einfach auf freiwilliger Basis.

    • Michael Wohlgemuth says:

      Besten Dank für die berechtigte Frage. In der Tat würden wir solche Livestreams auch als kommerziell betrachten. Sobald in irgendeiner Form Geld fliesst, handelt es sich aus unserer Sicht um ein kommerzielles Angebot.
      Beste Grüsse, Michael Wohlgemuth, SUISA Rechtsdienst

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The corona measures led to a loss of performance and earning opportunities for music creators and to a painful loss of live music for music consumers. Live streaming therefore enjoys great popularity, especially in these times, and takes on a pertinent role in the cultural industry. Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Information on live streams for SUISA members

Music via video as a replacement for cancelled concerts: Jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi played his work “We Need To Change” for the series of articles “Music for Tomorrow”; you can listen to it and watch it on the SUISAblog and the social media channels SUISA Music Stories. (Photo: screen shot video Cyril Bondi)

There are numerous possibilities to transmit live streams: The choice ranges from your own website, and social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or Dailymotion, to pure...read more