German concert promoters categorically refuse to accept that the collecting society GEMA should also profit from the sponsorship funds acquired by the promoters, in addition to benefiting from charges on admission tickets and the sale of merchandising articles, food and drink.

Jens Michow, chairman of the German Association of the concert promoters (bdv), expressed his concern at a meeting of the association at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. The music festival and conference was staged Sept. 23-25.

"We've had enough," he said. "We are not going to allow GEMA to earn even more from us. We need the money ourselves just to be able to finance our concerts."

His comments were met with applause from the more than 300 members in Hamburg. Michow told them he was outraged that GEMA now wanted to siphon off money from sponsors on top of what he believes are high rates.

He continued that this demand by GEMA would jeopardize the entire spectrum of concerts in Germany for the promoters. "If things go on like this, small and medium-size concert promoters will no longer be able to organize large international concerts because GEMA is ruining profitability," said Michow.

The promoters' new tariff has been effective since Jan. 1, 2010. However, the license fee for sponsorship funds between GEMA and the promoters has been explicitly excluded until the end of the year, so that an agreement can be reached if at all possible.

GEMA pointed out to Billboard.biz that the arbitration board had clearly accepted GEMA's claim in its ruling in the subject of sponsoring. "The decision of the arbitration board states that in future additional earnings from sponsoring and advertising represent a financial benefit that is therefore also to be included in the calculation of the amount to be paid," as stated in the ruling

However, the promoters' body is determined to mount a legal challenge should no agreement be reached with GEMA.

Concert promoter Peter Schwenkow, CEO DEAG in Berlin, tells Billboard.biz: "What have sponsors got to do with performing rights? If they get away with this, GEMA will be allowed to impose their charges on all additional income. This would then also include opera performances, which depend on government subsidies. What nonsense. It's just another way of fleecing the public."

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