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Police raid HQ of Spanish collecting society – again

By | Published on Wednesday 21 June 2017


Those with warm memories of the happy heady summer of 2011 and the glorious police raid on the offices of Spanish collecting society SGAE are in for a treat. As we were all enjoying the happy heady days of summer 2017 yesterday, police officers raided the HQ of Spanish collecting society SGAE all over again, this time reportedly investigating an alleged scam apparently called “the wheel”.

Fans of collecting society scandals still remember fondly the 2011 fraud investigation which saw the Spanish music rights organisation’s long-time top man Eduardo ‘Teddy’ Bautista quickly resign.

The whole debacle was a talking point once again earlier this year when Pedro Farré – SGAE’s former communications and lobbying boss and a one-time close ally of Bautista – published a book about his time expensing drugs and prostitutes to the music rights body. Good times. Farré was the only senior SGAE official jailed following the 2011 investigation. Something he’s seemingly as confused about as the rest of us.

According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, the latest police raid, in which eighteen people were reportedly detained, relates to an alleged arrangement between certain SGAE members and Spanish TV execs designed to shuffle song royalties distributed by the society to those involved in the scam.

Basically the accused SGAE members register new works with the society, often light reworks of public domain compositions, and then the TV execs involved in the deal commit to regularly air those works on late night television programmes, so that they generate performing right royalties collected by the society.

The TV companies are often listed as the publishers of the music, the SGAE members as the composers, so they can split the loot. It’s also alleged that some of the telly execs got writer credits too, so they could personally profit from the arrangement as well.

El Pais says the scam, known as “la rueda” internally, has been employed for years generating millions of euros in royalties for those involved. Billboard adds that Antón Reixa, who took over from Bautista after his resignation in 2011, was ultimately forced out of the society after trying to clamp down on this and other dodgy dealings designed to ensure buckets of royalty cash are distributed to a small group of SGAE members.

SGAE is yet to comment. Though stick around six years, one of the ‘wheelers’ might yet get jailed and then pen a tell-all memoir revealing the specifics of the scheme. Meanwhile songwriters of the world, next time you’re having a good moan about your useless collecting society, don’t forget, it could be worse, you could a Spanish songwriter.