Tag Archives: SUISA

From the 2021 Annual Report: From law-making to implementation

The «Regulations» division is responsible for SUISA’s legal affairs. This starts with its involvement in political law-making activities, runs through tariff negotiations and drafting the distribution rules, and ends with the implementation of rules and regulations in case of disputes. In 2021, the division dealt with a number of key issues. Text by Vincent Salvadé

From the 2021 Annual Report

The 2021 Annual Report contains all the relevant figures and information relating to the previous financial year at SUISA (cooperative and group). (Photo: SUISA)

1. Legislation

In last year’s Annual Report, we mentioned the initiative of National Councillor Philippe Nantermod demanding an exception to copyright law for protected works used in hotel rooms and similar facilities. This parliamentary initiative was revisiting a provision that the National Council and the Council of States had rejected in September 2019 as part of the revision of the Copyright Act. On 3 March 2021, the National Council accepted the parliamentary initiative. For us, that was inadmissible. There was no good reason to revise the Copyright Act after such a short time, especially since it was the fruit of a compromise. Cultural circles had made significant concessions to reach a solution. They would have been cheated if certain elements were to have been changed unilaterally. Moreover, the initiative was inconsistent with international law. As a result, either Switzerland would have been exposed to economic sanctions, or, to avoid violating international agreements, it would have had to apply the exception only to the works and performances of Swiss nationals. That would have blatantly discriminated against Swiss artists compared with those of other countries. Fortunately, the initiative was rejected by the Council of States in early March 2022, and the matter was definitively shelved.

The revision of the Swiss Code of Civil Procedure also kept us busy. For a while, it seemed that conciliation would be made mandatory before any legal action could be brought to enforce royalty payments of less than CHF 30,000. During legal proceedings, it is often worthwhile to seek an arrangement. However, collective management organisations must respect the principle of equal treatment, and their tariffs are binding. It follows that they have limited leeway for proposing or accepting out-of-court settlements. Under the circumstances, we argued in favour of a voluntary conciliation procedure which would avoid unnecessary costs when an out-of-court arrangement appears to be out of reach. The matter seems to be on the right track, although the revision of the Code of Civil Procedure is yet to be completed as this report goes to press.

Just before Christmas, the Federal Council published a report in response to a motion requesting an evaluation of the effectiveness of the revised Copyright Act (which came into force on 1 April 2020). On the whole, the Government is relatively positive. It noted that the anti-piracy measures seemed to have had a dissuasive effect and that there was less criticism from rightholders. On the other hand, the Federal Council was more reserved about the new extended collective licence model: the latter should enable collective management organisations to issue global licences for an entire repertoire (even on behalf of rightsholders that they do not represent contractually) but was still to realise its full potential. In this context, we welcome Switzerland’s intention to follow the international talks: regulation at international level will be necessary to ensure that the extended collective licence is also used in multi-territorial operations.

2. Tariffs

In terms of tariff negotiations, we concluded two significant agreements in 2021.

The first was an agreement with our international partners on a new Tariff 4i regulating private copying on digital storage media. This agreement extends the levy scheme to include laptops and external hard drives. The new tariff is currently before the Federal Arbitration Commission for approval and is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2022. This will significantly increase our revenues from the blank media levy. Moreover, in 2022 we will pursue talks on a new tariff for private copying on the Cloud (i.e. on remote servers). The talks had been suspended in autumn 2021 pending a decision by the European Court of Justice on a similar levy scheme applied in Austria. The ECJ handed down a ruling favourable to rightholders at the end of March 2022.

In 2021, in a different context, we finalised negotiations on a new Common Tariff Z regulating circuses. The objective had been to achieve a better delimitation between this tariff and Common Tariff K which regulates concerts and certain other types of shows. Henceforth, Common Tariff Z, with more advantageous rates, will apply only to certain well-defined shows. The Federal Arbitation Commission approved the new tariff on 8 November 2021.

3. Distribution Rules

In spring 2021, the amendments to the Distribution Rules decided by SUISA’s Board at the end of 2020 were all approved by the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI). The new distribution system for private copies was implemented for the first time in September 2021.

Moreover, SUISA’s Board adopted three amendments to the Distribution Rules concerning online rights. The first applies to situations where an online platform does not report sufficient information on the works it uses: in this case, distribution is made based on the information obtained from other platforms using a similar repertoire. The second amendment concerns «residuals», namely the amounts paid by online providers «in final settlement» for works that have not been claimed by any rights management organisation. As of the end of 2021, these residuals are distributed to entitled parties in the form of supplemental payments on their settlements for current uses. The third and last amendment concerns «Play Suisse», the video on demand (VoD) platform of the SRG-SSR (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation). The Board decided that a portion of the amounts paid by the SRG-SSR under Tariff A would henceforth be allocated to distribution category 22S covering VoD. This portion is calculated based on the share of costs invested in «Play Suisse» as against SRG-SSR’s total costs.

This third amendment still requires IPI approval. The latter has first requested an addition to Tariff A. The SRG-SSR agreed, and the matter was referred to the Arbitration Commission in spring 2022: we are looking forward to a favourable outcome soon.

4. Regulatory authority

Finally, two cases are pending on which IPI, our regulatory authority, and SUISA hold divergent views. Both cases concern the relationship between «conventional» collective rights management, which is under federal oversight, and the liberalised management of online rights. In the first case, IPI opposes the granting of guarantees by SUISA to secure a bank loan to MINT, the joint venture company with SESAC for the management of online rights. In the second case, IPI opposed a cross-selling initiative undertaken by SUISA to inform its Tariff 3a (background music) customers that they would have to obtain an additional licence for the use of music on their websites or social media pages.

In both cases, we filed an appeal with the Federal Administrative Court. In the first case, we argued that the proper functioning of MINT was in the best interest of SUISA’s members. After all, the aim of the joint venture is to bring the Swiss repertoire together with other repertoires to achieve greater bargaining power in our dealings with giants like Google, Apple, or Spotify. The guarantees granted to MINT will be submitted to the 2022 General Meeting and the matter will thus be closed. In the second case, IPI deemed that data protection requirements disallow the communication of this information by SUISA, and that the information is misleading since conventional rights management and the management of online rights are governed by different rules. We believe that IPI exceeded its competence in this context and has disregarded the realities of collective management in its interpretation of statutory rules. We are now awaiting the decision of the Federal Arbitration Court.

Both these cases address an important question: how far can SUISA go to respect its obligations as a monopolistic organisation in certain areas while coming to terms with a liberalised market in others? We need the regulatory authority to provide a practical answer to this question. Otherwise, SUISA’s members may have to suffer the consequences.

2021 Annual Report
The 2021 Annual Report contains all the relevant figures and information relating to the previous financial year at SUISA (cooperative and group). Informative articles shed light on income, political developments and tariff negotiations in the past year. Once again, 2021 was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the music industry. You can find out what this meant for SUISA’s members and customers in the 2021 Annual Report.
www.suisa.ch/annualreport
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The «Regulations» division is responsible for SUISA’s legal affairs. This starts with its involvement in political law-making activities, runs through tariff negotiations and drafting the distribution rules, and ends with the implementation of rules and regulations in case of disputes. In 2021, the division dealt with a number of key issues. Text by Vincent Salvadé

From the 2021 Annual Report

The 2021 Annual Report contains all the relevant figures and information relating to the previous financial year at SUISA (cooperative and group). (Photo: SUISA)

1. Legislation

In last year’s Annual Report, we mentioned the initiative of National Councillor Philippe Nantermod demanding an exception to copyright law for protected works used in hotel rooms and similar facilities. This parliamentary initiative was revisiting a provision that the National Council and the Council of States had rejected in September 2019 as part...read more

Hope and commitment

2022 gives rise to hope with regard to overcoming the pandemic and, above all, improving the working situation for our members. Larger concerts should be possible again this summer and the public is showing more interest in attending festivals and concerts once more. Some festivals and events sold out very quickly this spring. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Hope and commitment

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO. (Photo: Lisa Burth)

The SUISA General Meeting on 17 June 2022 will mark the first opportunity in two years for our members to meet with other members, with SUISA’s Board of Directors, its Executive Committee and staff. If you are a member and entitled to vote, do take advantage of this opportunity and do get involved in our common cause so that we can ensure that authors receive a fair compensation for their work.

Thanks to the commitment of the SUISA staff and the good cooperation with our customers, the music users, the 2021 business year result reflected only a slight decline overall compared to our all-time record of 2019. The biggest drop occurred in live music performances: Since they could not take place, SUISA also recorded less licensing income from this sector. With a great deal of patience and commitment, our employees nevertheless did everything they could to ensure that music uses were licensed as comprehensively as possible. For this, they certainly deserve our thanks on your behalf as well.

Thanks to the commitment among many of you and of politicians, we were also able to fend off an attack on the enforcement of appropriate compensation in more recent times. On 8 March 2022, the Swiss Council of States finally rejected the parliamentary initiative Nantermod. The initiative demanded that hotels should no longer have to pay any fees for broadcasting radio and TV programmes in guest rooms. This would have resulted in authors losing at least 1 million Swiss francs.

What we are concerned about is the war situation in Europe. It cannot and must not be that cultural achievements are destroyed senselessly and that peaceful coexistence among people is rendered impossible. Let us all see to it that music will triumph over barbarism. For our professional colleagues, you can get involved and give them hope through the coordinated #creatorsforUkraine relief campaign via our umbrella organisation CISAC.

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2022 gives rise to hope with regard to overcoming the pandemic and, above all, improving the working situation for our members. Larger concerts should be possible again this summer and the public is showing more interest in attending festivals and concerts once more. Some festivals and events sold out very quickly this spring. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Hope and commitment

Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO. (Photo: Lisa Burth)

The SUISA General Meeting on 17 June 2022 will mark the first opportunity in two years for our members to meet with other members, with SUISA’s Board of Directors, its Executive Committee and staff. If you are a member and entitled to vote, do take advantage of this opportunity and do get involved in our common cause so that we can ensure that authors receive a fair compensation for their...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

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.

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

General Meeting 2022: Face to face again at last

After a break brought on by the pandemic and for the first time since 2019, SUISA will hold its General Meeting at the Bierhübeli in Bern, allowing its members to participate in person and on site. The members of the cooperative are invited to attend in as large a number as possible and to co-determine the fate of their cooperative. Text by Andreas Wegelin

General Meeting 2022: Face to face again at last

After a two-year interruption, 17 June marks the day when the 2022 SUISA General Meeting can once again take place with members being present in person and on site at the Bierhübeli in Bern. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

On Friday, 17 June 2022, at 11 a.m., it will finally be that time again: After a musical introduction by the Bernese electro-swing group Klischée, the President of the Board, Xavier Dayer, will open this yearʼs SUISA General Meeting.

Members will be provided with information about SUISAʼs business performance in the past year and are asked to approve the 2021 annual result (–10% compared to the record year 2019) which was a sign of getting off lightly despite the pandemic. In addition to other statutory business, the securing of financing for online licensing by the subsidiary Mint Digital Services AG and a revision of the Articles of Association to improve corporate governance will also come up for discussion and resolution.

Election of substitutes and deputies, opening message and declaration according to EU Directive

After 10 years on the Board of Directors, publisher member Christian Siegenthaler (management of Patent Ochsner) decided to step down from the board. The board proposes Christian Baumgartner, management consultant and investor, as his successor.

Our new board member elected last year, State Councillor Johanna Gapany, will address the members with an opening message from politics.

Finally, in accordance with the provisions of the EU Directive on collective management organisations and the Liechtenstein Collecting Societies Act (VGG), the declarations of the members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee are disclosed for the first time on questions of theirparticipation in SUISA, amount of remuneration/compensation and actual or potential conflicts of interest.

Voting members welcome

The General Meeting is only open to members of the cooperative, i.e. members who are entitled to vote (see info box at the end of the text). These members will receive a written invitation with the registration documents by the end of May by mail. The invitation contains the agenda and additional information on the agenda items and business to be transacted at the General Meeting.

I hope that as many of you as possible will attend the General Meeting and, together with my colleague Irène Philipp Ziebold and my colleague Vincent Salvadé as well as other SUISA staff members, I look forward to exchanging ideas with you. Face to face again, at last.

New criteria for members who are entitled to vote
The SUISA Board of Directors decided in December 2020 to adapt the criteria for members who are entitled to vote. Authors and publishers will be admitted as members with voting rights if they have been SUISA principals for at least one year and had at least CHF 3,000 in royalties paid out to them since their registration. Previously, this amount was CHF 2,000. This change entered into force in 2021.
Furthermore, the contractual membership relationship will be reverted into a mandate relationship if members received less than CHF 3,000 in distribution payments overall for their works during the last ten years.
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After a break brought on by the pandemic and for the first time since 2019, SUISA will hold its General Meeting at the Bierhübeli in Bern, allowing its members to participate in person and on site. The members of the cooperative are invited to attend in as large a number as possible and to co-determine the fate of their cooperative. Text by Andreas Wegelin

General Meeting 2022: Face to face again at last

After a two-year interruption, 17 June marks the day when the 2022 SUISA General Meeting can once again take place with members being present in person and on site at the Bierhübeli in Bern. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

On Friday, 17 June 2022, at 11 a.m., it will finally be that time again: After a musical introduction by the Bernese electro-swing group Klischée, the President of the Board, Xavier Dayer,...read more

Spring meeting of the SUISA Board of Directors

The SUISA Board of Directors and its committees held their spring meetings on 11/12 April 2022. After a long break, it is back in full for the first time with face-to-face personal meetings at SUISAʼs headquarters in Zurich. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Spring meeting of the SUISA Board of Directors

Directorʼs seat in a TV broadcast vehicle: SUISAʼs Board and Executive Committee are preparing to counter the renewed attack on the media fee from the trade sector and the Jungfreisinnige (Young Liberals, Switzerland). (Photo: Cooler8 / Shutterstock.com)

Traditionally, the annual report and the annual financial statements/accounts are finalised and approved at the spring meetings in preparation for and for the attention of the General Meeting. The 2021 annual financial statements matched the previous yearʼs level despite the ongoing pandemic in the year under review. 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 decline in terms of the distributable amount. It is even 1% higher than in 2020. High secondary income also allows us to pay an additional 7% distribution on all 2022 settlements again.

Risk management

The annual report also includes the Board of Directors activities in terms of the examination of possible risks and the taking of precautionary mitigating measures to prevent such risks from materialising. Thanks to good information work and lobbying, the CT 3a Tariff (background music) has been much more widely accepted over the last three years since SUISA set up the collection. The Board no longer sees any particular risk here.

On the other hand, the attacks on the media fee from the business sector and the Young Liberals are a cause for concern: The substantial cut in funding for SRG would also have far-reaching consequences for the broadcasting of music by our members. Our Board and Executive Committee will set everything in motion in the years leading up to the referendum to ensure that this scenario does not come to pass.

Partial revision of the Articles of Association, #creatorsforUkraine

The Board also approved a partial revision of the Articles of Association for the attention of the Annual General Meeting, including rules for a good modern corporate governance. For the first time, the emoluments and potential conflicts of interest of the members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Board will also be disclosed to the 2022 Annual General Meeting.

The Board also wishes to express its concern about the war in Ukraine and condemns Russiaʼs war of aggression. It decided to make a donation of CHF 50,000 to the #creatorsforUkraine relief campaign of our umbrella organisation CISAC.

Other agenda items

Other topics of the meeting were the optimal organisation of the representation of the rights of our members in South Africa, possibly through a new agency, and the cooperation with the German GEMA regarding the automated registration of small events with music.

In its function as the Board of the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers, the SUISA Board of Directors has taken note of the annual financial statements of said foundation, which close successfully with an annual result of CHF 4.7 million thanks to the good securities situation at the end of 2021.

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The SUISA Board of Directors and its committees held their spring meetings on 11/12 April 2022. After a long break, it is back in full for the first time with face-to-face personal meetings at SUISAʼs headquarters in Zurich. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Spring meeting of the SUISA Board of Directors

Directorʼs seat in a TV broadcast vehicle: SUISAʼs Board and Executive Committee are preparing to counter the renewed attack on the media fee from the trade sector and the Jungfreisinnige (Young Liberals, Switzerland). (Photo: Cooler8 / Shutterstock.com)

Traditionally, the annual report and the annual financial statements/accounts are finalised and approved at the spring meetings in preparation for and for the attention of the General Meeting. The 2021 annual financial statements matched the previous yearʼs level despite the ongoing pandemic in the year under review. The overall decrease in...read more

Small rights and grand rights: who does what?

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

Small rights and grand rights: who does what?

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

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

The legal framework

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

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

What is the scope of application of grand rights?

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

No doubt … but what does that mean in practice?

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

No choice between SUISA and the SSA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small rights and grand rights: who does what?

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

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

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

More efficiency and back to a degree of normality

“A crisis is a productive state, you just have to take away the taste of disaster.ˮ This quote from the Swiss author Max Frisch can be referred to as the guideline for SUISAʼs objectives over the past two years. Today, we can establish that: The cooperation with our customers has been strengthened and the efficiency of our services is steadily increasing. 2022 may well bring us all a little more normality again. By Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO

More efficiency and back to a degree of normality

Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO of SUISA. (Photo: Lisa Burth)

2021 – a year that, unfortunately, was still marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. SUISAʼs members as well as its customers continued to face many challenges: Numerous events had to be cancelled or postponed, which had a significant impact on the decline in revenue, particularly in the concert and entertainment event sector.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, SUISA has set itself the goal of supporting members as well as customers as far as possible during this difficult time. The corresponding support measures (advances, Covid-19 emergency fund, Pension Fund) are used and very much appreciated by our members. But also on the part of the organisers our measures (longer payment periods, reductions according to tariff) were positively received.

As such, we can state today that this “togetherness in times of crisisˮ has strengthened cooperation, which can also be seen in SUISAʼs round table discussion with its customers and event partners Christoph Bill (Heitere Events AG and President SMPA) and Alexander Bücheli (Managing Director Bar & Club Commission Zurich) (to be read in the article “Going through times of crisis with strong cooperational partnersˮ on the SUISAblog).

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown us how important efficient services are so that the distribution results can be optimised as best as possible even in the event of a drop in collections. SUISA has been enhancing its online service for years now, especially for music authors and music publishers. Step by step, we are expanding the possibilities for our members to access our services and process their transactions with us online, independent of their time(zone) and location.

SUISA can thus increase its efficiency and consequently distribute more money to authors and publishers of music. With almost 28,000 principals and over 12,000 members entitled to vote, further measures (more on this in the article “New features in member services of SUISAˮ) must be taken in order to achieve the goals that have been set.

For now, we look forward to 2022 with anticipation and hope that the new year will bring a bit more “normalityˮ.

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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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“A crisis is a productive state, you just have to take away the taste of disaster.ˮ This quote from the Swiss author Max Frisch can be referred to as the guideline for SUISAʼs objectives over the past two years. Today, we can establish that: The cooperation with our customers has been strengthened and the efficiency of our services is steadily increasing. 2022 may well bring us all a little more normality again. By Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO

More efficiency and back to a degree of normality

Irène Philipp Ziebold, COO of SUISA. (Photo: Lisa Burth)

2021 – a year that, unfortunately, was still marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. SUISAʼs members as well as its customers continued to face many challenges: Numerous events had to be cancelled or postponed, which had a significant impact on the decline in revenue, particularly in the concert...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

Board meetings December: Budget established for the year 2022

The meetings of SUISA’s Board of Directors on 12 and 13 December 2021 had unfortunately to be held in the form of a video conference again due to the recommended protective measures. Among other things, the budget for 2022 was approved at the last meetings of the year. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Board meetings December: Budget established for the year 2022

The outlook with regard to the staging of concert events and the associated collections for performing rights for 2022 remains a foggy one. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

Due to the pandemic, the last meetings of the Board of Directors and its commissions were once again held by video conference on 12 and 13 December. Shortly before that, the Board of Directors still had the opportunity to meet physically in the course of a conference.

Future of online licensing

In this information and retreat session on 24 November 2021, the Board of Directors discussed the current situation regarding the global management of our members’ rights for online uses with SUISA’s Executive Committee and the CEO of Mint Digital Services AG. SUISA is competing with other collective management organisations and licensing companies through its joint venture company established together with the American SESAC: ICE, founded by PRS (UK), Gema (DE) and Stim (SE), and Armonia, founded by Sacem (FR). The possible scenarios for the acquisition of further customers were therefore discussed with the Mint CEO. The Board was also able to take note of the benefits that direct licensing of SUISA repertoire brings to our members worldwide.

2022 Budget

The main topic of the December Board meeting was the approval of the 2022 budget presented by management. As is well known, the situation regarding performing rights remains critical. Due to Covid-19, large events are only possible under restrictive conditions, if at all. These requirements entail that ticket sales are also more tentative and often worse than before the pandemic. As a result, performing rights revenue is expected to be lower in 2022 than it was prior to Covid-19 (–35% compared to 2019). Nevertheless, there should be an increase compared to 2020 (+12%).

Important pillars for achieving a better result in all areas compared to 2020 and probably also 2021 are the continuously improved market coverage, adjusted tariffs and new contracts. As a result of the new tariff relating to the blank media levy for external hard disks and laptops valid from 1 July 2022, revenue from compensation claims is expected to increase by around 20% compared to 2020.

On the expenditure side, we continue our cautious course. Expenditures are expected to be lower in 2022 than in 2020. Nevertheless, investments must be made in the further development of IT. The aim is to carry out as many communication processes as possible between members and SUISA and between clients and SUISA online: Our contact persons should be able to get in touch with us at any time via the web portal.

Within the framework of the budget, the Board also decided on the cost deductions for settlements to rightsholders in 2022. These cost deductions remain unchanged, i.e.: a maximum of 15% for performing and broadcasting rights and for online uses (video, websites). For online distribution of audio recordings, the cost deduction is 10%.

Code of conduct and conflicts of interest

The 2014 EU Directive on collecting societies also applies in the Principality of Liechtenstein. SUISA has therefore amended its Articles of Association accordingly in 2018. As a further consequence of the provisions of the Directive, the rules on conflicts of interest need to be defined more precisely. The board approved these rules at the December meeting. To this end, the Board of Directors and the Executive Board will disclose to the General Meeting corresponding declarations on vested interests and the remuneration from their SUISA mandates.

Projects

The Board of Directors also decided to continue its work on and planning of two projects: on the one hand, the celebrations for SUISA’s 100th anniversary in 2023 and, on the other hand, a joint project with Gema to automate and thus improve market registration for performing rights. Details of this will be able to be elaborated in the reports following the upcoming board meetings.

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Leave a Reply

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

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The meetings of SUISA’s Board of Directors on 12 and 13 December 2021 had unfortunately to be held in the form of a video conference again due to the recommended protective measures. Among other things, the budget for 2022 was approved at the last meetings of the year. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

Board meetings December: Budget established for the year 2022

The outlook with regard to the staging of concert events and the associated collections for performing rights for 2022 remains a foggy one. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli & Dirk Hoogendoorn)

Due to the pandemic, the last meetings of the Board of Directors and its commissions were once again held by video conference on 12 and 13 December. Shortly before that, the Board of Directors still had the opportunity to meet physically in the course of a conference.

Future...read more