GEMA: Purpose, role and relevance
GEMA at a glance
A lot of creative heads are joined in GEMA. They compose music or write lyrics. Sometimes they do both. Add to that the people who publish music. Without these people, our world would be much poorer. And without GEMA, they would probably be poorer, too. As a strong creative community, they can exercise their rights for a fair payment whenever their works are used in public.
80,200 composers and lyricists
5,000 music publishers
4,800 legal successors
*As of April 2023. All numbers are rounded.
GEMA – how it all began...
The origin of copyright
Imagine the following: It is the middle of the 19th century. You are a composer of chansons and are sitting in a café in Paris. Suddenly music is played which you know all too well - no wonder, it is music that you created! The atmosphere is rising, the guests are exuberant, and the money is rolling into the cash register of the café owner. And you? You only end up with a bill for your lemonade. In such a situation, would you not also say: "Hold on a minute..."
What GEMA actually stands for
If you want to understand what GEMA actually stands for, you won’t be able to avoid the notion of copyright! It ensures that creators of musical works receive fair payment for their work. By the way: Copyright applies independently of GEMA as an organisation. Even without us, music users would have to pay for music when they use it in public. But instead of acquiring the rights from each author individually, they can simply contact us and get access to the world's musical repertoire: fast and uncomplicated.
Purpose and tasks of GEMA
The purpose of GEMA: We manage exploitation rights which GEMA members have assigned to us. We look after your exploitation rights and exercise them vis-à-vis music users (e.g. record companies, broadcasters or public event organisers). So, if you want to perform, play back or reproduce music in a certain way, you must pay a fee for which you get a licence from us in return.
Its members, of course!
To do this, they gather once a year for their General Assembly. There, our members deliberate and decide on current issues. At the same time, they also agree on what the future of GEMA is supposed to look like.
Very important: The General Assembly determines the Distribution Plan. This set of provisions governs how exactly the licensing income is distributed to the creators and publishers. Finally, the General Assembly also elects the members of the GEMA Supervisory Board.
All GEMA members are represented in the General Assembly: Full members are entitled to vote directly, while associate members are represented by elected delegates. We compiled detailed information on associate and full members for you in our information leaflet GEMA membership categories.
For a colourful music landscape. With many voices.
Because we love music, we support music creators and grant prizes so that our musical life remains full of so many facets and can develop further in future.
The German Music Authors' Prize
They are the ones who are never in the spotlight:
The creative heads, or rather the music authors.
Without them, it would not be possible to ever perform music and bring it onto a stage. It is them who gift gripping melodies, new sounds and touching words to the world. And that is exactly why we provide these people with a stage – and bow to them with the German Music Authors' Prize.
The Fred Jay Award
What do Mark Forster, Inga Humpe and Die Fantastischen Vier have in common? They all live their passion for music with German lyrics and each of them is a recipient of the Fred Jay Award.
This award, named after the lyricist Fred Jay, is granted each year to people who have contributed a lot to our German-language music culture with their lyrics. We at GEMA are proud that we are the patron of this great prize.
How we are organised
As an organisation where so many threads converge, we must of course be set up accordingly. Important tasks are taken on by Supervisory Board, Managing Committee and the Delegates.
Possibly the most creative Supervisory Board in Germany
Eight composers, seven publishers, six lyricists: That is our Supervisory Board, including all deputies. When it comes to its composition, it is probably unique in Germany.
At the service of copyright law. Our Managing Committee.
It does, exceptionally, not include any music creators. At GEMA, everything revolves around the copyright law and the licensing income which is linked to it. That is what our Managing Committee looks after.
Delegates are elected
Apart from the Annual General Meeting of full GEMA members, there is also an assembly for all associate members. Every three year, the Delegates for the Annual General Meeting of the full members are elected in this assembly, separated by professional groups.
We make ourselves heard
In order to be able to position ourselves more broadly and offer our services more efficiently, we at GEMA have founded several subsidiaries over the years. Would you like to find out more about ARESA, ISYS, IT4IPM, SOLAR, ZPÜ?
Part of international associations
We also work on a multi-country level to guarantee a protection of authors for you.
Music and politics
Since we give creatives a voice, we also get politically involved.