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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Spring meeting of the SUISA Board of DirectorsSpring 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. Read more
More efficiency and back to a degree of normalityMore 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. Read more
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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

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

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

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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“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

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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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

SUISA Board meeting, autumn 2021

The Board of Directors and the Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the one for Organisation and Communication gathered on 29 and 30 September 2021 for their autumn meetings in Lausanne. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

SUISA Board meeting, autumn 2021

During its autumn meeting, the SUISA Board of Directors elected Francine Jordi (pictured) into the Board of FONDATION SUISA. (Photo: Thomas Buchwalder)

Fortunately, the epidemiological situation allowed the members of the SUISA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee to meet in person again. Of all people, it was ausgerechnet? Councillor of States, Johanna Gapany, newly elected to the Board at the General Meeting 2021, who was only able to join the meeting of the Committee for Organisation and Communication (O+K) via video link due to her participation in the session of the Federal Councillors in Bern. The SUISA meeting schedule 2022 is going to be adapted with the Council sessions in mind.

Cost unit accounting

The Board of Directors dealt with the results of the cost unit accounting for 2020, like every year in its autumn meeting. Based on the cost unit accounting, it can be determined how high the expenditure for collection and distribution is for each tariff in detail.

It is generally known that SUISA deducts a fixed percentage from the settlements to the rightsholders as a cost contribution for its expenditure related to collection and distribution. This percentage, i.e. 15% for performing and broadcasting rights, is a mixed calculation in relation to the effective costs. For example, collecting licence fees for music usages in the hospitality industry (CT H) or for dance and entertainment (CT Hb) is more costly than the collection from radio stations (Tariff A and CT S).

This cost unit accounting also makes these differences visible, and it can also be shown in a time dimension whether the costs for a specific tariff are showing a downward trend thanks to savings and rationalisation measures. The result of the cost unit accounting 2020 was somewhat clouded by the difficult collection situation due to the pandemic, less income but still costs which could not be reduced to the same extent.

Strategy

Every year in its autumn meeting, the Board of Directors takes a look at the strategy of SUISA. The basis paper for this was created in 2019. It was now time to check whether the defined strategic objectives are still to be weighted equally and can be achieved in a meaningful way.

Due to the pandemic, slight adjustments were made; however, the fundamental strategic stance of “asserting oneself in the face of increasing competition through high yields with high cost-awareness and best service quality” remains the same.

Special meeting to discuss online usages

In relation to the company’s strategy, the Board of Directors is going to meet at the end of November in a special meeting to discuss online usages. One reason for this, among others, is also the five-year anniversary of Mint Digital Services, the Joint Venture with the US-American organisation SESAC.

For this special meeting, the Board of Directors approved an agenda and determined the main issues. The objective is to define the needs and expectations of the SUISA members and satisfy them by way of finding suitable measures at Mint Digital Services and the SUISA group of companies.

Distribution of “residuals”

Changes in the distribution rules normally have to be approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (in Switzerland) and the Office for Economic Affairs (in Liechtenstein). The competence in the case of distribution rules for collections for online licensing is different: The management of online rights is not subject to federal supervision. As such, the respective changes to distribution rules exclusively fall under the competence of the Distribution and Works Committee and the SUISA Board of Directors.

As part of this competence, the Board of Directors decided in its meeting on 30 September 2021 that item 5.6.1 of the distribution rules be changed respectively reviewed with regards to the distribution of the “residuals” paid by online platforms. “Residuals” are amounts paid by online music platforms for works or parts of works whose rights owners could not be determined and as such no claims were established by any collective management organisation.

Such difficulties arise in such cases when musical works have not been registered in time. For such cases, online providers pay so-called “residuals” after 18 months to the collective management organisation of the country where the music was used.

A so-called “multi-stage invoicing” has been agreed with the online music providers: The usage data of the distribution period will be matched after 90 and after 180 days again against the works database. During that time, it is possible to submit a late registration of the works resulting in a settlement for the work that has been registered late.

The Board of Directors decided that after 180 days, the payments for non-identified works (the “residuals”) shall be paid out as a supplement on top of the other used works in the corresponding distribution period. The alternative that up to five years after the usage, unidentified works can still be registered has been dismissed by the Board of Directors due to cost reasons. It is therefore important that new titles are registered as soon as possible so that online usages can be distributed as adequately as possible.

Francine Jordi elected to the Pension Board of the FONDATION SUISA

The Board of Directors of SUISA is the election committee of the Board of FONDATION SUISA, the foundation for music promotion of SUISA. In its autumn meeting, the Board elected Francine Jordi as a new Pension Board member.

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The Board of Directors and the Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the one for Organisation and Communication gathered on 29 and 30 September 2021 for their autumn meetings in Lausanne. Report from the Board of Directors by Andreas Wegelin

SUISA Board meeting, autumn 2021

During its autumn meeting, the SUISA Board of Directors elected Francine Jordi (pictured) into the Board of FONDATION SUISA. (Photo: Thomas Buchwalder)

Fortunately, the epidemiological situation allowed the members of the SUISA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee to meet in person again. Of all people, it was ausgerechnet? Councillor of States, Johanna Gapany, newly elected to the Board at the General Meeting 2021, who was only able to join the meeting of the Committee for Organisation and Communication (O+K) via video link due to her participation in the session of the...read more

SUISA and the Covid-19 crisis

Since the end of February 2020, it’s not just the music sector that has been confronted with an unforeseen challenge. As a cooperative society for authors and publishers of music and a collective management organisation, how is SUISA dealing with the Covid-19 crisis which has been around for nearly two years? Text by Andreas Wegelin

SUISA and the Covid-19 crisis

With the bans for public performances, many people in the music sector had neither work nor income overnight. SUISA kept its business and its services up and running during the Covid-19 crisis for its members and its customers. (Photo: Jirsak / Shutterstock.com)

At the gala for the 13th Swiss Music Awards on 28 February 2020, of all things, the Swiss-wide restrictions of events with music kicked in. That evening, only a maximum of 1,000 people were permitted to attend the live event. Those who believed that the Covid-19 pandemic would have disappeared with the cold winter air, just like a flu virus, were soon proved wrong: From 13 March 2020, no live concerts, no parties in clubs were allowed any longer. The music business, made up of composers, performing artists, event organisers and suppliers for the event sector was forcibly deprived of its existential basis.

Meanwhile, we find ourselves in the second Covid-19 year and have been experiencing enormous difficulties when it comes to holding music events with a physical audience. How is SUISA as a cooperative society for authors and publishers of music and as a collective management organisation dealing with that?

Financial losses and unpredictability

About a month after the first lockdown had been ordered, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of SUISA revised the budget for 2020. This so-called “Covid-19 budget” target which forecast 23% less in terms of collections and 8.5% more in terms of costs, could be met. As the annual accounts finally showed, the overall turnover losses were fortunately limited: The collections of SUISA in Switzerland and from abroad amounted to CHF 138.5m in 2020 which was 12% less than the previous record year (CHF 155.2m). Costs rose by only 1.1% compared to the previous year and therefore less dramatically as anticipated in the Covid-19 budget.

The drastic effects of the Covid-19 ordinances only become apparent when you look at the sectors individually: The decrease of the collections from concerts (–51%), entertainment events (–47%), the hospitality industry (–46%) and cinemas (–58%) is blatant compared to the 2019 results. The good results achieved for broadcasting rights, compensation claims and online usages partially offset these losses. However, rights owners whose income mainly stems from the success of live events had to face huge losses in terms of their distribution amounts.

Due to the second wave of the pandemic, all events were banned again in December 2020. Again, a Covid-19 budget had to be created where the expectations are lower yet again on the income side for the 2021 financial year: compared to 2020, 11% less. At the same time, savings of 11% in terms of costs should be achieved compared to the year before. Particularly with regard to the collections from concerts (tariff K), a further slump must be expected. The prognosis for the second Covid-19 year projects CHF 6m collections in this area. In 2020, this tariff generated CHF 11m and before the crisis in 2019, CHF 23m in remuneration for authors and publishers of music.

Two “buffers” help in this situation; they are expected to cushion the inclement framework conditions in the financial results as per the current status of the 2021 financial year: On the one hand, the situation regarding the securities investments is good. On the other hand, the money which could not be allocated to any rights owners during the last five years is used to cover costs. If possible it is paid out in the form of a supplementary distribution once this period has expired.

Relief measures for rights owners

Due to the effect of the pandemic, all collective management organisations in Europe decided to set up aid measures in favour of their rights holders. The aid measures launched by SUISA are based on three “columns”: First, advance payments on the distribution settlements with an extended payback period, second, contributions from the Covid-19 emergency fund which had been specially set up, and third and last, the emergency assistance for authors from the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers (UVF).

These aid measures are gratefully received: Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in March 2020, CHF 1,416,084 advance payments were made up to 25 October 2021. CHF 251,250 were awarded as contributions from the emergency fund and CHF 170,500 were granted as emergency assistance via the UVF fund. You can continue to submit applications via “My account”. Due to the high number of rights owners, the extent of the losses only become apparent when it comes to the distributions in the years 2021 or 2022 which will be much lower for many since the events in 2020 and 2021 could not be held. Publishing companies have the option to request advance payments or contributions from the Covid-19 emergency fund. The UVF fund emergency assistance is only possible to be granted to authors due to legal reasons.

Lobbying

Just like if you had a short circuit, the lights went out for the entire event sector regarding public performances. From one day to the next, performers, event organisers, stage technicians and other staff in the public event sector were without work and income. For authors the concert stoppage meant that their works were no longer performed live and therefore no licence fees were paid for the performance of their music any longer. The collections from live events slumped to their lowest ever as described further above. These copyright royalties are, however, an important basis for the existence of many rights owners.

The first aid measures by the Swiss Confederation were insufficient and also not really tailored to resolve the problems in the cultural sector. Lobbying therefore became rather important during the crisis. It has been and still continues to be paramount to persuade public authorities, parliaments and the government that culture is vitally important for society, just like shops for your daily needs. If, therefore, cultural performances may no longer take place due to event bans, the creatives, event organisers but also the publishers and suppliers affected must be compensated accordingly. What needs to be taken into account in such situations is that, particularly in the culture sector, many work as self-employed freelancers or in the form of small organisations, e.g. associations.

Furthermore, the understanding needs to be firmed up that there are different types of events: Studies show that there often is a lower risk of getting infected at cultural events than at large sports events or funfairs. Lobbyists have not yet managed to anchor this differentiation in the minds of the decision-makers so far. Nevertheless, the “Taskforce Culture” which had been spontaneously set up during the crisis, has achieved a lot and has become an important contact point for authorities, parliaments and the government. SUISA is a part of the extended support circle of the Taskforce.

Manage from a distance and work remotely

The Cooperative Society SUISA employs about 250 people. They share 187 full time positions. All staff whose tasks could be done by working remotely had to be sent home in the week of 16 to 23 March 2020. The IT team created the required plans for such a completely unexpected process from scratch and made sure that staff could continue to work from home on devices provided by the employer, without major difficulties.

Working in your home office, a recommendation issued by the authorities, later turned from being optional to mandatory. As such, it was not just a challenge it also entailed completely new experiences in terms of managing and organising the operations. How do you reach your co-workers and colleagues if you cannot simply pop over to the next office space if the meeting and break out rooms cannot be used?

The previously existing and used options to hold virtual meetings and one-to-one conversations via video conference were expanded. Thanks to these technical means the connection which is so important for a good collaboration between management and staff but also among colleagues could be maintained. Executive staff were trained in how to lead and manage their staff from home. Every two weeks, a web meeting with the Executive Committee, the HR manager and the IT manager took place, moderated by the communications manager. All staff could participate in this meeting and ask questions via the chat function. We thus managed to transition the collaboration “across the distance” into a daily work routine.

Business operations were functioning, thanks to the flexible, committed and disciplined staff as well as the advanced digitisation. SUISA was always available to its members and its customers. This new experience made the Executive Committee decided to also enable home office work in future, up to 50% of the work time. Home office deployments must, however, be coordinated within the teams and this cannot be carried out for some positions in the extent reflecting a maximum.

More self-service – process automation

The obligation to work from home particularly highlighted how indispensable and important digitisation has been for a collective management organisation like SUISA. Working from home is only possible if the necessary data is available electronically and extensive paper dossiers do not have to be accessed. The immense advantages in terms of availability of the required information was proven as a consequence of the digitisation of all member and customer files in the last few years. The developments in terms of computerisation further contributed that it was possible to quickly switch to working from home in a successful manner.

Customers and members of SUISA also benefited from progress for efficient and satisfying contacts with the company triggered by the digitisation. Due to the closure months for the hospitality industry and shops ordered by the authorities, many customers had requested a refund of the unusable licence for music performances. The process of refunding licence fees can now simply be triggered via a web form.

Since the middle of 2020, members can access the royalty report via “my account”. All members who have a valid online access can retrieve the up-to-date data for their works and the licences issued for them and view and arrange them according to selected criteria. More recently, the login process for members and customers was enhanced via a two-factor authentication which means that the digital business exchange with SUISA offers an even higher security standard. Further developments will follow.

The applications and digitisation projects mentioned above were only implemented in such a successful and timely manner because the staff continued to work on them at full steam and without any limitations during the pandemic. After some lengthy discussions, Executive Committee and Board of Directors had decided that SUISA would not apply for and introduce short-time work. A wise decision, as the situation which we have been experiencing since March 2020, shows more and more clearly: In a roundabout way under pressure from the authorities’ ordinances regarding the pandemic, SUISA was able to develop its services much further over the last few months. Despite the losses in collections, we are ready with digitised and automated processes to manage the music licences for event organisers and to distribute the royalties to rights owners reliably and, above all, cost-effectively.

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Since the end of February 2020, it’s not just the music sector that has been confronted with an unforeseen challenge. As a cooperative society for authors and publishers of music and a collective management organisation, how is SUISA dealing with the Covid-19 crisis which has been around for nearly two years? Text by Andreas Wegelin

SUISA and the Covid-19 crisis

With the bans for public performances, many people in the music sector had neither work nor income overnight. SUISA kept its business and its services up and running during the Covid-19 crisis for its members and its customers. (Photo: Jirsak / Shutterstock.com)

At the gala for the 13th Swiss Music Awards on 28 February 2020, of all things, the Swiss-wide restrictions of events with music kicked in. That evening, only a maximum of 1,000 people were permitted to...read more

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

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

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

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

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

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

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

Contribution at SUISA and FONDATION SUISA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

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

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

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