How do music fees work

It's great that you use music

GEMA stands for: "Society for musical performance and mechanical reproduction rights". That might sound a bit bulky, but our goal is all the more clear: the protection of the intellectual property of musicians. This has not changed in over 100 years. We have been around for so long. Since then, we have been campaigning for the interests of music creators and ensuring that they are fairly remunerated. That is why we are also committed to copyright law - nationally and internationally. Without copyright, creative people could not make a living from their work. They would simply not make any money and would not be able to develop their creativity freely.

We can also help you as a music user. Imagine: Without us, you would have to acquire the rights from each author individually if you use music publicly. Because the copyright is of course completely independent of us. With our help you get access to a huge musical world repertoire. You contact us - and a little later you can enjoy music. You benefit from a sophisticated and fair tariff system. Nobody should pay more than is reasonable. Who z. For example, if you have a small shop where music is played in public, you only pay a small fee.

So that musicians can make a living from their work; just like other people. Creative performance does not come out of nowhere, it is the result of hard work. Just as patent law ensures that inventors benefit from their ideas, copyright protects musicians. Whether composer, lyricist or music publisher, they all have a legally enshrined right to fair payment if their works are used in public.

We exercise this right for our more than 80,000 members. When you play or perform music in public, you can be sure that your financial contribution will benefit the musicians directly.

It depends on how you use the music and how many listeners you have. An example: Of course, you pay less for background music in a small hairdressing salon than in a large department store. In general, the costs depend on various factors: Would you like to use the music once, e.g. B. for a concert, a company party or a street party? Or do you need permanent background music, for example for a bar, a climbing hall or a hotel? Is it about a podcast on the internet or do you want to broadcast music on the radio? As you can see, music can be used in very different ways. Our price calculator will help you. There you enter what you are using the music for. And then calculate the price. Or take a look at our tariffs.

Everyone who is responsible for the public use of music - organizationally and economically. This could be: organizers, restaurateurs, retailers, online providers, labels, doctors, associations and others. You can find out from your GEMA consultant whether you are one of our customers.

The concept of public music use is largely determined by the case law of the European Court of Justice. An indefinite number of potential addressees is required, which must consist of a not very small number of people. The decisive factor is not only how many people have access to the same work at the same time, but also how many people have access one after the other. Accordingly, the public is also present if only one person can enter a shop with music playback at the same time, but a larger number of people enter in the course of a day. Basically: the larger the number of participants in an event, the more speaks for the public at this event. The use of flyers and posters as well as the issue of admission tickets are also indications of the public.

Please register your music usage in good time so that we can give our consent before it is carried out. The easiest way to do this is online or by email. But also by letter or by phone is possible.

For those interested, there is still the legal background: There is even a legal obligation to register the use of music beforehand. This also applies in other areas of business life: if you want to use rights, you have to acquire them first.

We are only the trustee of our members. For this reason alone, we cannot - by law - do without fair remuneration for our members, even at benefit events.

However, under certain conditions we can grant a benefit discount of 10%. At events with live musicians, for example, when the musicians perform free of charge.

We do not determine when a public event is free, but that is stipulated by law. Therefore z. B. events without an entrance fee are generally chargeable. However, the following cases in particular are excluded under the Copyright Act: "The obligation to pay fees does not apply to events organized by youth welfare, social assistance, care for the elderly and welfare, as well as care for prisoners, provided that they are only accessible to a specific group of people according to their social or educational purpose. This does not apply if the event serves the profit-making purpose of a third party; in this case the third party has to pay the remuneration. "

None of the events mentioned may take place for commercial purposes. If someone earns money with it, they have to pay a GEMA fee. If someone earns money with it, they have to pay a GEMA fee. For online events (e.g. live streaming), you always need a paid license from GEMA in the cases mentioned.

We are the only collecting society for musical copyrights in Germany. As such, we exercise the rights to tens of thousands of musical works from home and abroad. We are also talking about the “world repertoire” that we represent across Germany.

Therefore, there is some evidence - the so-called GEMA assumption - that works that belong to this repertoire are used in the public reproduction of dance and light music. The GEMA presumption was developed by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). It also applies to the mechanical right of reproduction (vinyl, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray).

In practice it means that commercial music users have to pay license fees to us. Unless they provide detailed information to prove that they only used music from authors who are not represented by us.

A place of use is the place where the public use of music takes place. It is not uncommon for the address of the place of use and that of the licensee to be different. A licensee can have several usage locations if the licensee (e.g. concert organizer) holds events with public music usage at different locations. This is why the operator of a location and the organizer can be different people, but the operator is also liable to GEMA.

Yes, because we not only exercise the rights of German music authors. We also represent the rights of foreign music authors. The basis for this are reciprocity agreements with foreign copyright societies.

As we z. For example, if American, British or Swedish composers exercise the song rights in Germany, their copyright societies exercise the rights of German artists in their countries.

If that were not the case, you would also have to pay contributions to foreign copyright societies for your music usage. Fortunately, that's not the case. Because that would be much more time-consuming for everyone involved - and therefore also more expensive.

Music is royalty-free if it comes from an author who has died at least 70 years. That is why the works of Mozart and Beethoven are royalty-free, but also, for example, the Christmas carol "Silent Night, Holy Night". Interesting about it: There are two authors of the song: Franz Xaver Gruber, who composed the music († 1863). As well as Joseph Mohr, who wrote the lyrics († 1848). Since both died for more than 70 years, the Christmas carol is royalty-free.

Our customer advisors regularly check events and public places. If music is played there that has not been registered with us beforehand, an additional payment will be due. You will also face additional costs. After all, we do not want to pass the additional financial expenses that arise on us to either our members or music users who correctly pay their contribution.