Lluís Torrents: ‘Clubs’ managers like to see how the fees they pay get to the artists they play’

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Lluís Torrents is to Barcelona as a bassist is to a rock song. Although unnoticed at first glance, he’s essential for the city to keep up its fantastic musical shape. He’s always been very close to music, managing clubs, agencies, labels and concert promoter companies for more than 30 years. Nowadays, as the Co-CEO of Razzmatazz, he puts these skills together to keep this historical club ahead of the game in the Spanish disco race. The size of the club itself makes it a winner, however music lovers know it for leading the avant-garde movement for Spanish music. All in all, this shows a strong commitment in the quest for a fair and healthy music scene.

Last SUMMUS, we had the chance to hear Lluís’ vision on the royalties’ management from the perspective of a club. We talked again with him to delve deeper into this topic and reveal the reasons why Razzmatazz is part of BMAT’s web of monitored clubs.

Brais: How are you affected, as a club, by the Intellectual Property Act?

Lluís: We must pay two different fees: the first one is a monthly fee for the mechanical reproduction of the songs and for live music concerts less than 12 euros. The second is for live music concerts more than 12 euros, then we must pay a percentage of the total box office income, currently at 8.5%.

B: This fee you pay, is it the same amount every month?

L: We pay a fixed fee per month. Fees are set depending on the scale of certain aspects of the club, such as club’s total surface, available surface for the audience, length of bars in metres or entrance fees. In our case, we must pay €1,600 to SGAE and €550 to AGEDI and AIE approximately as a fixed fee, plus the 8,5% of ticket sales for concerts more than 12€.

“Rights distribution requires accurate usage data compilation so that CMOs know which artists have been played and must be paid.”

B: Are you familiar with the process of royalties’ distribution that Collective Management Organisations (CMO’s) take?

L: We aren’t involved in the process once royalties are collected, but we know how it works: the income from concerts (ticket sales) goes directly to the artists that have performed. Then, the fixed monthly fee we pay for mechanical reproduction is distributed according to the statistical analysis that SGAE does in Spain, compiling setlists played in different venues along the country.

B: How are these setlists compiled nowadays?

L: Traditionally, they used to hire companies who would send agents to clubs, not more than once or twice per year. These agents would write down the played setlist and, based on this data, they made an extrapolation to distribute the royalties. So, I wouldn’t say the distribution was fair, as many songs remained unidentified. I believe rights distribution requires accurate usage data compilation so that CMOs know which artists have been played and in consequence must be paid.

BMAT - Club Monitoring. Lluis Torrents.jpg
Lluís Torrents, Co-CEO at Razzmatazz. Photo by Ruth Marigot (ara.cat)

 

B: Would you yourselves write down or register the setlists that have been played and submit them to CMOs?

L: That’s not our core business. I think only an efficient automatic monitoring system could do this.

B: However, automatic monitoring systems aren’t very widespread yet. We’ve created what we believe is the biggest club-monitoring network worldwide – which now totals 700 venues – but it seems there’s still a long way ahead. Can you think how to convince undecided clubs to install these systems?

L: I assume that all the clubs’ managers that are familiar with the monitoring system think it’s very positive and like to see how the fees they pay get to the artists they play. In fact, I think a tool for monitoring should be mandatory in every club with a reproduction equipment, so that when you register your club with a CMO, someone comes and installs these little boxes for free.

“Monitoring systems are the biggest opportunity CMOs have to receive the setlists, identify all the played songs and make a fair distribution.” 

B: In fact, Razzmatazz is one of the first clubs that installed our monitoring boxes. How did you get to partner with BMAT and why did you decide to implement this system?

L: When we knew about this service, we saw it as the best way to make a fair distribution. Having this device installed in Razzmatazz doesn’t present any problem nor additional cost to us. I’d rather say it’s a huge step forward in the field of music rights. And it could have even more impact if we didn’t have to pay for any content that doesn’t belong to the repertoire of the collecting society as we are uncertain of what happens with this money afterwards.

B: Along with CMOs we’ve detected that when it comes to dj-sets – a dj playing other artists’ tracks -, data compilation requires improved monitoring systems. What’s your perception of this issue?

L: For a long time and until not long ago, electronic music artists didn’t have any tool to receive the royalties they deserved. But the increasing usage of monitoring systems is already changing this. To be honest, these systems are the biggest opportunity CMOs have to receive the setlists, identify all the played songs and make a fair distribution.

Brais, Storyteller

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