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GEMA faces march of the angry clubbers

The Local · 6 Sep 2012, 16:06

Published: 06 Sep 2012 16:06 GMT+02:00

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Demonstrations have been organized outside GEMA's offices in several major cities, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Leipzig and Dresden.

Organizers, including the Clubcommission network of Berlin nightclubs, say that GEMA's new tariffs, set to take effect on April 1, 2013, require a payment of 10 percent of a club's income - calculated by a co-efficient of the entrance fee and the area of the club.

By the Clubcommission's calculations, that means a small club of 120 square metres with an entrance fee of €6, currently paying GEMA €45 per event, will have to pay €270 per event by the new system. This, it says, is a crippling hike likely to force several clubs to close.

Opponents also have a fundamental complaint against the royalty organization. It says GEMA's pay-out structure disadvantages club DJs and composers of electronic dance music, because most royalties are paid out on recorded music.

As result, protesters say the system is skewed in favour of major artists.

"At the moment 65 percent of GEMA payments go to five percent of its members," said a Clubcommission statement made last week. "In 2010, GEMA spent about €127 million on its own administration with more than 1,000 employees, which is collecting money like a state authority."

In response to the demonstrations, GEMA apparently sent an email to its members, regretting that "because of the constitutionally guaranteed right to assembly," it wasn't able to prevent the protest taking place, even though "the organizers are working with false and polemic accusations."

Story continues below…

GEMA claims that 60 percent of events will get cheaper, and hikes will effect only 3,000 clubs across the country, which it said was a "minority."

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

20:55 September 6, 2012 by elboertjie
If GEMA wishes to block videos on Youtube due their claim that the music is not licensed or paid for, why then are they also blocking the VIDEO and not only the audio?

Youtube has the feature to block the audio only on a video. So actually, GEMA is censoring videos that they have no right or claim to.
21:24 September 6, 2012 by wood artist

My gripe is also with their Youtube activities. Thus far they have blocked 3 of my postings, which consist of music that composed for an opera, "performed" by my computer through the composition software, and video of the lyrics...which I wrote. They responded with the usual "we think this is a copyright violation" email, but can't seem to figure out who could possibly hold the copyright except me. Of course, they play in every other country of the world, and I've demanded they tell me who else "supposedly owns" the copyright so I can enforce "my rights."

Yup...no response.

22:10 September 6, 2012 by Englishted
Keep going wood artist ,I admire your stand if i had the know how I would join you.

However have you started a campaign on you tube and or Facebook because that way at least I could show some support .

Post a link because I'm sure the good people at "the local " would not mind .
22:29 September 6, 2012 by DavidtheNorseman
"...regretting that "because of the constitutionally guaranteed right to assembly," it wasn't able to prevent the protest taking place..."

Says it all. I guess we know which legislation GEMA will be trying to get shot down.............
00:23 September 7, 2012 by Onlythetruth
I completely support GEMA's efforts to protect artists from being ripped off by the media and businesses that use GEMA protected music. If dance clubs and DJs don't want to pay the licensing fees they should write their own music.
01:45 September 7, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
The Stasi of the music industry. Only in Germany. It kills them to allow a constitutional right to protest against their massive administrative costs. I doubt they protect the music industry one jot. Another icon of the past that should be left in the past.
13:07 September 7, 2012 by blackboot11
Germany is full of people and organisations that think and work on the premise that the calander year is still somewhere in the 1990's.

All dinosaurs, and hopefully on the brink of extinction.
14:14 September 7, 2012 by DoubleDTown
The Clubcommission is worried some clubs might have to close. Oh, the horror.
03:10 September 8, 2012 by Onlythetruth
So GEMA is a dinosaur because it seeks to protect its artists from use of their music with out payment?? If you don't like the price make your own music and then GEMA has nothing to say.
15:34 September 8, 2012 by lala la 622
^ ^ "Protect its artists"?!?!

"65 percent of GEMA payments go to five percent of its members" . . . so who are they really protecting? Definitely not all of their artists . . . even THAT is absurd.

If you go out, for example, to Berlin clubs, you will realize that the majority of the music being played in these clubs have absolutely NOTHING to do with GEMA.

And continuing to use Berlin as an example, this will affect the city's economy . . . oh how they underestimate this! Everything from Späties, to taxi drivers, late night döner shops, DJs, booking agencies, record labels (which btw, it's their music getting played in clubs, and they probably don't get a cent from this GEMA thing anyways!), heck, even bottle collectors will become affected when people refuse to pay 30 euros to get into one of the few clubs left open!

Open your eyes Onlythetruth!
14:15 September 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Agree with you lala. Money collected by GEMA is mainly used to pay it's massive administrative workers and the rest going to a small percentage of artists. GEMA does nothing for the vast majority of artists. In fact these artists propably benefit more by their music being made more available by clubs, bars etc. If GEMA gets it's way far fewer people will ever get to hear smaller artists music and as a result these budding artists will effectively be strangeld at birth by the hand of GEMA.
00:57 September 10, 2012 by Onlythetruth
So lets make music free for everyone to use without licensing payments? In other words "screw the composers, we want to have a good time and not pay them for it."

The younger generations are spoiled rotten by the fact that they can steal music on the internet without paying for it and now they feel that they are entitled to it for nothing. I am not a major GEMA artist by any mean s but I do get paid by GEMA when my music is used and it definitely helps me pay the rent. Go steal someone else's music. Or make it yourself.
12:22 September 10, 2012 by lala la 622
Dear Onlythetruth,

"Go steal someone else's music. Or make it yourself."

I make music as well, and I have A LOT of producer friends, but you have to keep in mind the genre of music that is mostly being played in the majority clubs who are in the brink of shutting done thanks to this absurd tariff. I know so many A&R and label managers of House and Techno music labels, and it is common knowledge that there is almost no money being made from this, but nonetheless, they keep on going and doing their job.

"Steal music"? Most of the djs that get to play in these clubs buy their own vinyls, wavs and mp3s because of the obvious quality issue. I sincerely couldn't care less about the youtube thing (until the moment I tried to listen to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde only to realize that GEMA wouldn't let me . . . he's been dead for more than a century! It should be public domain), but this whole thing about clubs shutting down, some due to GEMA tariff increases of more than 1,000% seems stupid, absurd, and unfair.

If you are talking about youtube and all the music genres, then you are right. But the main point of the protest and even this article is the fact that GEMA will definitely kill the club culture in Germany. Maybe that is not important to you, but for people who actually live in cities like in Berlin, the consequences will be horrible.

The amount of record labels, booking agencies, DJs, live acts, and world-known clubs based in Berlin is . . . well let's just say A LOT. With no clubs, there will be no bookings, with no bookings there will be no work for DJs or live acts, without work for DJs or live acts, the purpose of techno, house, & electronic music record labels will be limited (remember when I said they barely make money? one of the main reasons why DJs, and EDM music producers release tracks nowadays is to get booked at clubs and venues!).

Oh and the amount of tourism that arrives to this city only for the purpose of clubbing . . . say tschüss to that!

GEMA wants the djs to always provide tracklists for the sets they play in clubs so they know what to charge . . . . anyone who has been inside a club recently knows that this is this is a ridiculous thing to ask.

Even Kindergardens have to pay because of the children's songs the use.

And guess what, I work in a Berlin-based booking agency. If only half of the clubs that say they will have to close actually do close, I will barely have enough to survive.

So tell me Onlythetruth, how will I pay my rent when that happens?
07:46 September 12, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

Maybe your music being more freely available will increase public awareness of you and increase volume of sales. I think you are misguided in thinking that GEMA is your friend. They are but another middleman between you and your fans and possible fans. Let music lovers decide what to pay for without a stasi like agency imposing themselves inbetween you and those who like your music. Music devoloped long before GEMA existed and I am sure it will develop long after this dinosaur is confined to the history books where they shoud alread be.
11:53 September 12, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ la la la 622

No bookings or work for DJs? OMG! I can't think of a bunch of people less deserving of "work". Maybe then folks will discover live music again. There used to be an old joke " What (instrument) do you play? Oh I play the radio." A funny true story - I asked the director in my sports club about the background music he was playing he warned me "don't say anything, I know all about music I used to be a dj." Hilarious.

@ Berlin fuer alles

With or wihout middlemen it is still stealing to use music without paying the creators for it.
15:33 September 15, 2012 by lala la 622
@ Onlythetruth - Of course you wouldn't care about us, (can't believe I expected otherwise) but only about yourself . . . sounds just like GEMA. I think you fit in perfectly with that ignorant bunch, a match made in culture hell ;)
04:36 September 16, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ lala la 622

You mean that ignorant bunch that wants to be paid for the stuff they make? Stop complaining and make your own music instead of trying to rip off musicians. The last I heard people are free to set their own price for the things they make. If you don't like it you are free to make your own music without interference from anyone.
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