As the Easter season is about to start, churches in Germany would often be planning the standard collection of parish live shows and recitals which mark the calendar via the summer season and into the Christmas season.

However, a dispute between the Catholic Church and Germany’s predominant music licensing firm is threatening to quiet the musical custom.

For a long time, a deal was in place for particular person churches to pay a lump sum of about $55 a yr to GEMA – the German equal of the U.S.-based American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers – for the proper to play sacred music nonetheless beneath copyright.

From this sum, funds have been made to the authors, composers, and different copyright holders for the license to play their work.

This yr, GEMA raised the charge to round $90, and the German bishops’ convention refused to agree to the rise, main GEMA to cancel the contract.

The bizarre settlement GEMA has with non-profit venues – reminiscent of civic halls – relies on venue measurement, attendance, and gate receipts.

This means a live performance at a Catholic church could lead on to a cost of as little as $25 – if it have been a babies’s choir at a rural parish giving a live performance for largely household and mates – to greater than $1,000 for a live performance at a big cathedral or oratory.

And it’s not simply live shows which are affected: The earlier lump sum cost lined different occasions on the parish. A faculty dance will now have to pay to have music, as would any music carried out at a parish competition. (Music utilized in liturgies is roofed beneath a separate settlement with GEMA and has not been affected by the termination of the contract for music at church live shows.)

Church live shows are fashionable in Germany, with most parishes holding a number of a yr, and due to declining attendance at Mass, they’re usually a great way for the native Church to keep in contact with the inhabitants.

“A small parish competition prices about $30. An energetic group, which makes 4 such festivals would already pay greater than within the package deal,” GEMA’s Jürgen Baier advised Munich’s BR Radio.

In truth, Germany’s affiliation representing Protestant churches instantly agreed to GEMA’s rights charge enhance, so are usually not going through the identical dilemma.

But the Catholic Church is standing agency, even when it’s the particular person parish that’s actually paying the worth.

“We have four or six concerts a year, so we’re thinking, how do we even get that paid for so that we can offer things that can improve the cultural life here in Haidhausen [a Munich neighborhood]?” Stefan Ludwig, a church musician, requested BR Radio.

An official for the Catholic Church advised the radio station that the rise from GEMA was “not appropriate,” however refused to remark on the burden positioned on the shoulders of the parish churches.

The German bishops’ convention later issued an announcement saying it had “a framework agreement” with GEMA that grants a 20 p.c low cost for the cost due to the company, including “the music used is to be reported and reimbursed by the church organizers.”

Even with the low cost, parishes are going through a bigger outlay for music. Worse for a lot of is the uncertainty of how a lot they are going to be charged: They ship the main points of any live performance to GEMA, which calculates how a lot is owed, and sends a invoice.

Germany’s Catholic Church is the wealthiest in Europe, thanks to a government-enforced Church tax, wherein each Catholic pays a share of their earnings to the Church, whether or not they attend Mass or not. However, this cash goes to the dioceses, not the parishes.

GEMA, for its half, justifies the licensing enhance due to the truth that beneath the earlier lump cost system – negotiated within the 1980s – it was really paying composers extra royalties than it obtained from the churches.

Since January 1, parishes throughout the nation have cancelled live shows, or switched to older works within the public area. As it stands, there might be far fewer church live shows this yr, which is able to have an effect on each native communities and the nation’s trendy classical music composers, who will obtain no royalties from music not carried out.

GEMA says the lump sum cost provide continues to be on the desk, however, for now, the Easter season could also be a musical Lent for Catholics in Germany.


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