A neighbouring right for streaming?
On Monday 10th of September, the European Parliament will resume its activities. One of the points on its agenda during the first week is the much-debated Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. What can be expected?
Before a directive can be considered as European law, it needs the approval of all the European institutions: the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. Only when all three have taken a clear stand the so-called ‘trilogues’ can be initiated. The proposal itself came from the Commission, therefore we have known their position since September 2016. The Council has come to an agreement at the end of May 2018. Which only left the Parliament.
Within the Parliament the proposal was discussed in several ‘working groups’, each with their particular specialisation. It was the committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) that presented a compromise proposal to the plenary Parliament, asking for approval to start negotiations with the Council and the Commission.
This approval, however, was denied. The German Axel Voss, responsible for the preparation of the compromise proposal, did not obtain a majority from the Parliament and was sent into summer recess with some serious homework.
The Parliament mostly rejected the compromise proposal because they feared it would limit freedom on the internet, a concern instilled in many members of Parliament by the lobby of several tech giants. However, the compromise went far beyond that and also contains several articles impacting directly performers (both musicians and actors) and more specifically their position within the ever expanding online market of video-on-demand and music streaming. In this respect, the compromise was an improvement on the Commission’s proposal. Even if it did not guarantee the level of protection we hoped for as yet, it makes a fine base for a better protection on the internet and was as such supported by PlayRight, its sister collecting societies within in Europe, as well as the European federations and guilds of musicians and actors. Even if they do not guarantee the level of protection we hoped for as yet, they make a fine base for a better protection on the internet.
During the summer, Axel Voss has continued his work on a compromise text, which he submitted to the Parliament on the 5th of September. Together with our European partners we managed to avoid that further adjustments to the articles that directly concern the future of our musicians and actors. Tomorrow the Parliament will get a second chance to approve this compromise and we hope – together with all of you – that it will take that chance.
JOHAN HOOGEWIJS, SCREEN COMPOSER & MUSICIAN ON DEMAND
The term ‘performing artists’ is a very large umbrella, it does not stop at session musicians or screen actors. Who are the members of PlayRight? Johan Hoogewijs is as a screen composer. His assignments allow him to alternate all kinds of projects and as he often records his compositions himself he is entitled to neighbouring rights. How did this come about?
Most of my works are film and TV assignments, theatre and dance not as much. After six or seven years of making jingles for radio icon Jan Hautekiet at Studio Brussel, I started composing for fiction series, such as Langs de kade, Niet voor publicatie, Heterdaad… In the Netherlands I was worked on a number of series, but also on seven films, such as Bloedbroeders (Blood Brothers) by Arno Dierickx (2008) and Het leven uit een dag by Mark De Cloe (2008). The tax shelter introduced me to a number of foreign productions, such as Heute bin ich blond (The Girl with Nine Wigs) by Marc Rothemund in Germany (2013) and recently Le collier rouge (The Red Collar) by Jean Becker in France (2018).
What does a screen composer and musician do?
Anyone can ask for my services. I hardly ever compose without a specific purpose in mind, I like to sail where my assignments take me. The result can vary tremendously, from piano or synthesizer to more classical repertoire. I am not marked by a clear signature, like Wim Mertens for instance, but that‘s to my advantage: I can handle all kinds of palettes. The result is always new music, created in consultation with the director and the producer.
How do directors find you?
A director does not always get to choose his team himself. Often, they put up a fight with the producer for a cameraman or an editor, but as far as the likes of composers or set builders go…
In that respect the tax shelter is both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes a co-production is left with some budget, but specifically for people of a certain nationality. This can either work for you or against you. There are even specialized firms these days, whose only job it is to collect tax shelter funding. Then they go on the lookout for composers, through studios or the recently founded Belgian Screen Composers Guild.
Competitions are common place as well these days. There are houses who will pay you a small amount for a demo, but often this means working without any guarantee of getting paid. If you compete with a hundred other people for new children’s television song you can hardly expect that everyone will get paid. But meanwhile this means investing time on your side, whereas bidders get to reduce the risk of not finding a song they like to almost nothing.
When did you first hear about neighbouring rights as a possible source of income?
Somewhere in the mid-nineties Microcam suggested I become a member. Later this organization merged with Uradex, which was then transformed into PlayRight. Toots Thielemans had already told me he got money every now and again off commercials he had once recorded in Sweden. So I was already aware I could claim neighbouring rights, since I recorded my own music.
For quite some years now PlayRight has handled my files. Compared to music the audio-visual sector always drops somewhat behind and not all countries collect for both. As I gather collecting reliable information is more complex as well. But I know you are working on that and the people at PlayRight make a tremendous effort. Better yet, I can see it as the amounts I am paid rise every year.
There is a genuinely personalised approach. That is why I try to motivate others to join as well. I can’t stand those musicians who scoff at ‘another five euro from PlayRight’. PlayRight and SABAM could have come a lot further by now if their artists where really behind them.
Can you live off your music?
I have been very lucky. The jobs I have done have always come to me with little effort on my side. The phone has just kept ringing at the right moments. I thoroughly enjoyed doing Witse and at the same time it was really successful as a series, with quite some reruns. This financial security has allowed me to take on less obvious projects as well. In this way I have been living off nothing but my music, for thirty years now.
Things come less easy to the new generation. This holds for session musicians and song writers as well. What they get online from Spotify and the likes is peanuts, when compared to what artists used to make.
Do streaming services have an impact on your life in any way?
You have to go through production companies to get to them. You need a network for that, contacts in the right places and preferably representation. Someone at Milan Records, a renowned film music record label, is checking out new opportunities for me on the French market after Le collier rouge.
None of my existing series have been picked up by streaming services either. Of course most of them were VRT productions. They never put much effort into selling their series elsewhere. These days series like Tabula Rasa are made outside the TV network, by external production companies. That’s a different story.
What project would you like to add to your track record someday?
My own ambitions are not so high that I dream of ending up in Hollywood. Nor would that system become me. But I’m always in for a good art-house film, or a well-made Scandinavian series. Or a grand costume piece, in which I can go quite large. With music that matters, and a theme that has a career apart from the film. That would be something. An old idea of mine for a live project, with four jazz musicians and images by Hans Op de Beeck, has just popped back up as well.
Is the Belgian National Employment Office targeting performing artists?
As a performing artist chances are very high you will need to call on unemployment benefits at some point in your career. In order to gain access to these benefits the National Employment Office (NEO) does not take into account the rights you obtained, but once you are registered those revenues ARE taken into account. Or rather discount.
You don’t build up social rights from revenues relating to rights and there are arguments to support this. After all, no social contributions are due on income from assets either. Using them to skim down social rights accumulated elsewhere, however, is utter nonsense.
And yet, it is allowed. Based on the renewed article 130 of the royal decree of 25 November 1991 the NEO has been allowed for several years now to use the income from rights as a starting-point for a recalculation of benefits. An opportunity it makes use of more and more, but not always in a correct way. Some samples:
An actress has a hiatus after twenty years on the job and registers as a job seeker for the first time. The neighbouring rights which she has been paid (and which she has declared) during the months prior to her unemployment are (understandably) not taken into account in order to determine whether she has a right to unemployment benefits. Based on her salary she is granted an allowance. Nevertheless, her entire benefit for the months of September through December are reclaimed the following year, because the NEO considered she had received too many rights in the year she was registered as a job seeker.
A musician fills out the form C1-Artist, declaring he estimates he will touch about 350 Euro in rights the following year. As it turns out he receives 2500 Euro in rights and is sanctioned for fraud. The 2500 Euro are used to calculate a deduction of his benefit. Even though this amount is still far below the threshold of what you are allowed to receive in rights based on the article 130.
PlayRight remains an advocate of the full recognition, without any exceptions or limitations, of the movable nature of income from copyrights and neighbouring rights, as do the tax authorities in Belgium. There is no room for copyrights and neighbouring rights in art.130 and they should be treated by the Belgian NEO in the same way they treat any other movable income: not at all!
Aiming for a constructive debate with the payout institutions, the NEO and the competent Minister, PlayRight asks its affiliated artists to report any decisions by the NEO in which rights – paid by PlayRight or other parties – have induced a deduction or even withdrawal of unemployment benefits.
Send a copy of the decision by the National Employment Office by mail to .
A PlayRight+ grant for actors
PlayRight + offers a grant to independent filmmakers who, as part of their short film project, give a fair remuneration to their actors.
To apply for support as a filmmaker, you need to:
- Hire an actor through an official employment contract, or an invoice if the actor is self-employed. The salary scales to be respected are relative to the Parity Convention 227.
- Submit a full application to PlayRight+ by the deadline.
How to apply?
Write a cover letter in which you explain your short film project, joining the following documents:
- A copy of the scenario
- A summary of your budget for the short film
- A copy of the work contract proposed to the actor (or to the actor who performs the dubbing)
- The curriculum vitae of the actor for which you are applying
- An overview of the entire cast
Send these documents by email to the following address:
When should I submit an application?
- You can submit your application by March 31st or by September 30th.
- Your request will be processed within 60 days.
What kind of support are we talking about?
- In case of a positive evaluation of your application, PlayRight+ will support 50% of one actor’s wages for your short film project.
- Only one grant can be awarded per film project.
- You can apply once for this actor’s grant.
- Only fictional projects are accepted (not documentaries).
DEADLINES: declare your repertoire before the 31st of of December 2018
Each year, PlayRight sets a deadline to declare your repertoire and allow us to identify your performances both on Belgian playlists and abroad. The collection, management and distribution of your rights are therefore based on your declared repertoire.
PlayRight wishes to inform you that you have until the 31st of December 2018 to declare your repertoire:
- For music recordings to which you participated and that were broadcast or exploited in 2015,
- For audiovisual recordings to which you participated and that were broadcast or exploited in 2011 & 2011.
HOW IT WORKS?
Prior to these final distributions that will take place next year, this calculation will be based only on declarations made up to the 31st of December 2018. Any declarations made after this date will not be taken into account, meaning that they will not generate rights for this reference year.
It doesn’t mean, however, that your repertoire will not generate rights for the open reference years, but simply that it will be too late to generate rights for the reference years to be distributed next year (Audiovisual : 2011 & 2012, Music : 2015). Therefore, make sure your repertoire is up to date!
Forgot your password? In the homepage of your portal, enter your email address and click on I forgot my password. You will shortly receive an email inviting you to create a new password.
“Participation to declare”?
Once logged in your PlayRight portal, you might notice in the left column if you have some participations to declare. Please note that the deadline is also applicable to those contributions. As long as you have not declared them, they can’t be considered and will not generate rights.
- Please take into account that PlayRight will be closed during the Holidays as from 21/12/2018 until 01/01/2019. Therefore, your Account Manager will not be available during this period,
- We recommend to declare your repertoire as quickly as possible. You can find on our homepage the distribution calendar & summary of all deadlines,
- Declare your music contributions in a few clicks thanks to the PlayList menu,
- A complete list of the declarations, made by either yourself or your representative, is available to you via the PlayRight portal.
Call for applications: Join PlayRight Board
The Board of Directors is the decision-making body of our management company. Among other things, it outlines the strategy of PlayRight. As such, the Board is crucial when it comes to defending the rights of the performers.
We would therefore like to invite you to become a member of this Board of directors, and take an active part in the management of your company. Help shape its projects, plans and future vision.
This year, four administrator mandates are to be filled:
French and Dutch being the national languages, we ask you to send us your application in one of these two languages. On the other hand, please note that the General Assembly is held in both languages.
Get involved in YOUR management society and apply for the mandate that corresponds to your main artistic activity.
How? Send your application to , along with:
- A short personal presentation (‘curriculum vitae’),
- And a picture (accepted formats: JPEG / PNG) in two separate files.
Applications must be submitted no later than Friday, May 4th.
Your application will then be communicated to the shareholders, so that they can elect their candidate(s) during the General Assembly that takes place on MONDAY, JUNE 18th.
Additional Info: In due time you will receive your official invitation to the General Assembly (both in French and Dutch) and will have access to the online tool to confirm your presence. Meanwhile, note the date of MONDAY, JUNE 18th (from 1pm) in your calendar. Please also note that the General Assembly will be followed by an event and a drink, to which you are warmly invited.
Royalties remain royalties until proven otherwise
Good news! The Court of Cassation has recently put an end to the practice of the tax administration consisting of automatically taxing income from neighbouring rights and copyright in excess of the ceiling of 59 970 EUR (for 2018) as professional income.
Since 2013 all income deriving from neighbouring rights and copyright must be declared in your tax return, under the heading of movable property. This means the sum of all your income from neighbouring rights and copyright. Not only the amount you receive from PlayRight, but also what you might receive from another CMO or from a producer.
Up to the limit of EUR 59,970 you are entitled to a favorable withholding tax of 15%. Above this ceiling, the general withholding tax for movable property must be applied, in particular 30%.
But, in practice, the tax administration automatically added this income to your professional income, which meant that it was taxed at a progressive rate of 25% to 50%. And this usually was detrimental to the performing artist. And so, the Court of Cassation was asked to take a decision on this.
The Court did not accept the automatic requalification and decided that from now on it is up to the tax administration to prove that income from neighbouring rights is professional income. Failing that, royalties remain royalties, also for the part that exceeds the ceiling of € 59,970.
Request a revision!
And that is good news! If you have recently been personally affected by such an automatic reclassification, be sure to request a revision.
A PlayRight+ prize for the Jazz section of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels
After visiting the Gent School of Arts, PXL Music and Arts2 , PlayRight+ continues its tour and made a stop at the Jazz station this Tuesday 17th of October to award Julien Gillain, a young graduate at the Jazz section of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, the PlayRight+ prize.
Julien received a master’s degree in Jazz Piano (taught by Eric Legnini) and another masters in Jazz Violin (under Françoise Derissen) last September, and was invited to perform at the Jazz station to celebrate the occasion. This marks the beginning of a career we wish to be both long and creative for him.
Julien made it through a double curriculum, which means he masters both instruments. He was selected by his teachers at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels jazz section after graduation.
“Julien Gillain was chosen for his attitude – always curious and open towards music, his talent, his seriousness, his perseverance and the way he exhorts himself in his work, during all his courses. He applies great sincerity and generosity towards his colleagues during the projects in which he participates, as well as his own projects.
The teachers at the jazz section of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels would like to highlight all these qualities that combine in a double instrumentalist, both pianist and violinist. This is why he was selected to receive Playright+ Prize. To honor the efforts and the talent of a young emerging musician who just completed a master’s degree at the Conservatory, was self-evident.”
Collaborating on projects throughout Europe, Julien Gillain is also a member of a Hardbop quintet called Dat Mess‘, which you can discover here:
The two winners of a PlayRight+ prize at arts au carré are…
The academic year is officially launched and with it, PlayRight + continues to award prizes to the students who just finished their Master. The latest laureates have just completed their studies at Arts2, the Royal Conservatory of Mons.
PlayRight+ offers all Belgian universities the opportunity to award a PlayRight+ prize to the graduating young musicians and actors. The prize is awarded to those who have distinguished themselves during their training and studies as a performing artist. Our first collaboration with the teaching team and the Direction of Art2 allowed two students, selected by their teachers, to receive an award during the proclamations.
The cream of the theatre’s teaching team, held by Frédéric Dussenne, Bernard Cogniaux, Bernard Clair and Sylvie Landuyt (Director of the Theatre department) have selected Guillaume Druez :
” Guillaume has this rare quality in the actors to show both great command and a magnificent permeability to the moment. He combines technical power and frailty. He is a team player, rigorous and attentive. Guillaume explores all facets of his body, his language, the stage and in different temporal durations. He hungers theatrical and performative experiments. This is where his talent lies, in the multiplicity and complexity of the theatre. He is dedicated and blossoms in several roles, he keeps transforming and surprising others, always on the edge, taking risks. He can appear out of nothing and make a strong impact.
He also developed an exciting personal writing style, combining the absurd, comedy, poetry and emotion. He carries his own projects with great success.”
For the music section, the panel chose Ludovic Monnier. The guitar graduate also won the Public Competition held in June 2017 by Arts2.
“The career of Ludovic Monnier at the Royal Music Academy of Mons is exemplary: an exploration voyage with an open mind, while a personal work discipline that allowed him to reach true artistic independence. It was no longer a student that the external jury discovered last June, but the assumed, captivated and concentrated recital of a young performer we want to come back to. We are pleased that the Playright+ Prize will be awarded to a particularly deserving student, also saluting his teachers and their gift to pass on talent, so indispensable to any student: Odair Assad, who could not make it to the award ceremony, Françoise-Emmanuelle Denis and Magali Rischette”
The PlayRight+ prize tour is not over yet, as we will soon award a graduate of the Jazz section at the Brussels conservatory. New dates are already planned for 2018, do not hesitate to contact us at if you are interested.
PlayRight’s mandate in the RAWG has been renewed for 2018
During the previous SCAPR Working Group meeting, Johan Bex, our Attaché International Relations has been re-elected as the convener of the RAWG Working Group.
SCAPR, RAWG ?
SCAPR is the international organisation that groups management companies of performing artists’ neighbouring rights. Its mission is, among others to agree on standards and best practices for the affiliated collecting societies and improve the transparency, exchange and efficiency of collective management.
RAWG (Rights and Administration Working Group) is comprised of experts involved in the international exchange between collecting societies. The main aim for the working group is to cooperate towards a consistent improvement of the implementation of our Bilateral Agreements, implying an increased flow of cross-border rights exchanges.
The RAWG participants meet in person four times a year at a location provided by one of the societies. These meetings allow us also to network with other societies and learn from their working habits. In addition to these meetings, we cooperate closely with sister societies, making them full partners to work with.
This increased cooperation encourages societies to invest heavily to improve their working methods so that performers will receive an increased number of rights from a higher number of territories in a quicker and more detailed manner.
The next meeting will be organised in November by Gramex, our Finnish partner.