German collection society GEMA paid over $1bn to publishers and songwriters in 2019

Dr. Harald Heker is CEO of GEMA, which saw its operating expenses grow to 14.9% of revenues in pandemic-hit 2020.

German performing rights organization GEMA generated revenues of €1.069bn ($1.2bn) in 2019, an increase of €50.2m (5%) compared to 2018.

Of this amount, €905.6m ($1.02bn) was distributed to members and rights-holders worldwide, according to GEMA, which published its financial results today (May 27).

Last year’s income was offset by total expenses of €163.7m compared to total expenses of €159.7m in 2018, reports GEMA, which adds that its expense ratio in 2019 was 15.3% compared to 15.7% in 2018.

Today’s news follows GEMA’s launch in March of an emergency Coronavirus aid fund worth up to €40m ($43m) for its songwriter and composer members, with the society’s CEO Dr Harald Heker commenting in a statement issued today that “GEMA’s very good 2019 financial year will form a ‘crisis airbag’ for [its] members”.

Public performance was GEMA’s strongest revenue sector in 2019, increasing by 4.9% to €407.4m compared to €388.5m in 2018, which GEMA states was “mainly due to a robust concert year in 2019”.

Digital revenues rose by over 72% to €181.9m, largely driven by streaming, and GEMA adds that “new contracts concluded with digital service providers were a particularly positive factor” in 2019.

Meanwhile, GEMA notes that “the declining importance of physical recordings such as CDs continued unabated in 2019” and that revenue from sales of “vinyl records show a positive market trend”. (Streaming overtook CDs as the highest earning format in the German recorded music market for the first time in H1 2018.)

At €61.1m, revenues from the duplication sector fell by almost 25% compared to 2018.

Elsewhere, income from music usage on television and radio fell slightly, by 2.2%, to €295.2m, attributed to falling advertising revenues from private television stations. 

“Against the background of current developments, GEMA’s very good 2019 financial year will form a ‘crisis airbag’ for our members.”

Dr Harald Heker, GEMA

“Against the background of current developments, GEMA’s very good 2019 financial year will form a ‘crisis airbag’ for our members,” says GEMA CEO Dr Harald Heker.

“For many of them, the regular distributions on April 1 and June 1, 2020 provide much-needed financial support. Especially in these difficult economic times, GEMA’s distributions may even secure people’s livelihoods.”

Added Heker: “GEMA’s tenacious commitment to fair remuneration for music authors on the internet is bearing fruit.

“Collection from internet and streaming services has now become a significant source of income for music authors.

“This makes it all the more important that the legislator in Germany now transposes the reform of copyright law adopted by the EU in 2019 into German law.

“More than ever, composers and lyricists need a reliable legal foundation so that they can participate fully in the digital value creation of their works.”

GEMA passed the one billion Euro mark for the first time in 2016, when it collected €1,024.4bn, with collections that year seeing significant uplift from retroactive licence payments from YouTube dating back to 2009.Music Business Worldwide

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