Audio and Visual Recordings
We can hear the music – but we can’t see the music makers.
In autumn 1887, for the first time, music emerged from a wooden box with a funnel-shaped attachment. Much to the astonishment of those present, given that the box didn’t contain any hidden musicians or singers – which had, up to that time, been the only possible way of making music sound. The gramophone had been invented, and thereby the so-called “mechanical reproduction” of music.
The reproduction of music on recording media via technical equipment had been a success story from then on. Over time, the medium itself would change repeatedly – from shellac discs to vinyl, from cassettes to CDs. What has remained constant, however, is the pleasure of listening to music in our own home, of actually “owning” it in a purely physical sense and of collecting the recordings. Vinyl, for example, is making a comeback despite streaming and digitalisation. Audio carriers will continue to be a relevant source of income for our members.
The audio recordings reproduction rights category (Phono VR) – a simple explanation
The name Phono VR goes back to the phonograph, a device for recording and therefore reproducing music. In this category, you receive distributions if your works are reproduced mechanically and distributed on recording media, e.g. CDs, vinyl records or cassettes. VR stands for Vervielfältigungsrecht, which means reproduction right. To ensure that musicians are remunerated when their works are reproduced, audio recordings must be notified to us by the producers and licensed by GEMA.
Having matched the recording company’s notifications with the registered works by the creators and publishers we can pay out royalties directly to music creators and publishers.
In this category, we also distribute revenue for audio recordings used in a context for which we do not receive usage reports, e.g. for lending of audio recordings in libraries or for permitted private reproduction. We pay out such royalties as a supplement on top of revenue for the reproduction.
The audio-visual recordings reproduction rights category (BT VR) – a simple explanation
As the name indicates, audio-visual recordings include images and sound. DVDs and Blu-rays are two examples. As with audio recordings, GEMA receives royalties for the reproduction and dissemination of music on audio-visual recordings (e.g. film music). We can distribute these revenues directly to music creators and publishers.
Audio and audio-visual recordings at a glance
How the categories break down:
In the Phono VR category, we distribute revenue for the reproduction and dissemination of music on audio recordings (CD, vinyl, cassette, etc.). In the BT VR category, rights owners receive royalties for the reproduction and dissemination of music on audio-visual recordings (DVD, Blu-ray, etc.).
Where the revenue comes from:
Anyone who wants to reproduce and/or disseminate an audio or audio-visual recording needs a licence to do so. By acquiring this licence, they also acquire the right to reproduce and disseminate one or more works on a medium.
What usage information is considered:
Anyone who wants to acquire a licence for reproduction and dissemination must submit a notification to GEMA, stating the relevant works and their length – as the basis for our direct distribution.
How the money is distributed:
The major part – based on the notifications provided by licensees concerning their productions – is distributed directly to the works’ rights owners. All revenue for each CD and title under €1 is distributed as a supplement on a percentage basis.
Important dates, periods and deadlines
Declare works promptly:
We recommend declaring works promptly via our Online Portal , but at the latest with the release. Only then, a work can be included in a distribution, according to the GEMA distribution plan. For reproductions of your works between 1 January and 30 June, the notification deadline is 31 July. For reproductions between 1 July and 31 December, the last possible day for notification in order to be included in the next distribution is 31 January of the following year.
Annual distribution cycle:
The main distributions for Phono VR and BT VR take place on 1 January and 1 July each year. Backlog distributions for Phono VR take place on 1 April and 1 October.
Make claims promptly:
You have three months time after a distribution date to submit a claim. To find out how to do and what you need to know about, see our claims page.