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Concert and festival rights in Switzerland

Chantal Bolzern, head of the performance rights department at Swiss collection society SUISA, outlines the importance of co-operation between PROs and promoters

07 Feb 2017

Chantal Bolzern, Suisa

The Swiss love concerts and festivals. Every year new festivals are founded, even in remote mountain areas. Some quickly disappear, whilst others can look back on a tradition of 40 years or more. Also a wide range of music clubs attract large crowds every week. In 2015, SUISA licensed more than 20,000 concerts and festivals, where over 360,000 different songs were performed, generating royalties of CHF20.3 million (€18.9m) – nearly 50% of all revenue from performing rights. Considering Switzerland has a population of just 8m, these figures are impressive.

To make all this possible, you need a great song, interpreted as an inspiring live performance. And, of course, you need a promoter to organise a well-run, crowd-pleasing event.

SUISA serves as a hub in this business. Owned by our members, our aim is to help songwriters and publishers benefit from the income others generate when they use their songs. But also, we want promoters to have easy access to the rights necessary to create their event.

The live business is an ecosystem where all parties involved need each other. When they all do a good job, they not only have a great time but they also make money

SUISA has negotiated a new two-year concert and festival tariff with all the relevant trade organisations in order to simplify calculations for promoters. The tariff sets a licence rate for concerts and festivals of between 7–10% of ticketing revenue, and a rebate for those with a membership in a trade organisation. Our tariff is also a one-stop shop for neighbouring rights, which especially facilitates the lives of festival promoters.

Every three months, detailed royalties statements are distributed, allowing songwriters and publishers to verify where their money is coming from. We have full transparency and all licensing and distribution work is done at an administration cost of 12%.

The live business is an ecosystem where all parties involved need each other. When they all do a good job, they not only have a great time but they also make money. This allows composers to create new songs, making new performances and new concerts possible. Therefore, we should all value and respect each other’s shares and efforts in this business, and we should work together to find solutions to the new challenges we are faced with.


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