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SESAC announces joint venture with Swiss collecting society

By | Published on Thursday 4 August 2016


Oh, look! We have a brand new collecting society joint venture to enjoy, with US performing rights organisation SESAC announcing an alliance with the Swiss songs society SUISA. And this joint venture has a neat name too: Mint Digital Licensing.

Do you remember the bad old days when digital services had to license publishing rights via collecting societies on a country-by-country basis, with each society only providing licences in its home territory?

Well, no more, thanks to the wide range of direct, multi-territory, hub and joint-venture licences now available, which means you can license some songs over here and some over there, some from the publisher, some from the society, this licence for these territories but not those territories, this licence for here but not there but here, and maybe here, if it’s an indie publisher, but only for this half of this song, though you might get the other half of that song too, and some mechanicals may be included along the way, or not, though do work that out or you might be sued. It’s all so much simpler these days.

Mint Digital is the latest new collective licensing initiative of this kind. It means that from next year digital services will be able to get one licence covering the shares in the songs repped by both SESAC and SUISA. And they’ll even throw in some mechanical rights too, SESAC now also owning the mechanical rights focused Harry Fox Agency in the US, of course.

It’s the “first transatlantic alliance” between two PROs which work for songwriters and publishers, reckon the new business partners, though the recent deal between French society SACEM and Canadian PRO SOCAN was sort of an “alliance”, even if it didn’t actually set up a new entity like this deal will. But whatever, “starting in January 2017, [SESAC and SUISA] will work closely together to license and administer the rights to use musical compositions in online music services under a joint venture”.

As with all these joint ventures in the collective licensing domain, the aim isn’t just to make it (possibly) simpler for the licensee, but also to make the processing of digital data and royalties faster and more efficient, benefiting songwriters and publishers too. And Mint Digital will do exactly that, say the two societies.

“Mint Digital Licensing represents the first step in SESAC Holdings’ plan to build a multi-regional licensing platform at scale”, says SESAC boss John Josephson. “The key to our success will be an unrelenting focus on our customer’s needs, access to the most comprehensive and accurate data available in the market and a best of breed technology solution. Like SESAC, SUISA is a leader in technology as well as a dependable and experienced partner. Together, we will significantly improve online licensing for creators, copyright owners and digital service providers”.

Meanwhile SUISA chief Andreas Wegelin adds: “This partnership allows SUISA to expand its position in the online arena and remain autonomous in the long term in this competitive market. Furthermore, we will benefit from significant economies of scale in terms of data and IT infrastructure. In recent years, SUISA has invested heavily in updating its IT infrastructure to be better positioned for the challenges of copyright licensing for the distribution of online music”.