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
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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