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Gema collections top €1bn for the first time

The German PRO collected €1.02bn in royalty payments in 2016, including €371.1m in public performance fees, in its most successful financial year to date

By Jon Chapple on 18 Apr 2017

Harald Heker, Gema

Harald Heker: "Gema has never been so successful in financial terms"

image © Gema

Gema, Germany’s performance rights organisation (PRO) and collection society, last year collected more than €1 billion for the first time, its annual accounts reveal.

A total of €1.02bn was collected in 2016 on behalf of rightsholders, with the 15% year-on-year increase mainly attributable to a deal struck in November between Gema and YouTube, which largely ended the Gema-backed blocking of YouTube videos featuring major-label music.

However, royalty collections from public performances also remained “consistently high”, growing to €371.1m (up slightly from €365.5m in 2015) and once again delivering the lion’s share of collections. “Live music,” reads the 2016 report, “has continued to develop very strongly.”

So stable, in fact, that its continued eclipsing of the recorded market risks putting the future of recorded music in jeopardy, says the PRO, unless recording artists can secure “sustainable compensation from online streaming”. Also important is cracking down “on online piracy, which will deliver a permanent increase in related revenue”.

“Gema has never been as successful in financial terms as it was in 2016”

“Gema has never been as successful in financial terms as it was in 2016,” comments CEO Harald Heker. “An increase of nearly 15% compared to the previous year led to the one-billion mark being crossed for the first time. Such levels of licence collections ensure that composers and lyricists, as well as their publishers, receive a fair remuneration for the analogue and digital exploitation of creative performances.”

Heker warns, however, that government has a part to play if rightsholders ever expect to be remunerated fairly by streaming platforms. “In the fast-growing streaming sector, authors still do not participate adequately in the economic gains and successes of the providers,” he says.

“With the distribution of works protected by copyright, [streaming services] yield a high turnover, yet without adequately remunerating authors. Politicians are more than ever called upon to create a fair legal framework.”

Gema (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights) is one of the world’s largest collection societies, representing 70,000 members in Germany and more than two million globally. It is one of several PROs known to be offering controversial tariff ‘rebates’ to promoters, which have been criticised by many rightsholders and arguably contributed to the growth of direct licensing.


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