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Tom Nies


SUISA uses Cincom® ObjectStudio® to harmonize music and money with web-enabled mainframe applications

SUISA uses Cincom® ObjectStudio® to harmonize music and money with web-enabled mainframe applications

SUISA is the Cooperative Society of Music Authors and Publishers in Switzerland. Established as a cooperative association in 1923, it now numbers about 36,000 composers, lyricists, and music publishers. SUISA collects the remuneration to which its members are entitled for the public use of their works in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Through reciprocity agreements with over 100 sister societies worldwide, SUISA manages the rights of 2 million right holders. SUISA employs 200 people in its offices in Zurich, Lausanne, and Lugano.

In 2017, SUISA and US performance rights organization SESAC founded the joint venture Mint Digital Services. The company manages invoicing and administration for the transnational music licensing businesses of SESAC, its subsidiary the Harry Fox Agency and SUISA with online providers, and also offers its services to publishers.

SUISA manages what is known as «small rights». These include non-dramatic musical works, concert versions of dramatic works and musical works for feature and television films. SUISA issues licenses authorizing its customers – concert organizers, record producers, broadcasting companies and other users – to perform, broadcast, disseminate and reproduce music.

The development environment that SUISA chose to build its interface-driven, transaction-oriented services was Cincom Smalltalk. Nick Theofanidis, the Manager of the Databases and System Administration Group of SUISA, said:

“We wanted to develop some new applications for the Windows platform and, more recently, for the web, so we initially chose Cincom® ObjectStudio®. But when Cincom® VisualWorks® bundled with ObjectStudio as Cincom Smalltalk, we wanted to take advantage of the VisualWorks web technology and develop the user interfaces of our services using VisualWorks.”

One of the core systems for the management of music copyrights worldwide is the Interested Parties Information (IPI) system. This global repository of all individuals and legal entities that hold music copyrights is managed by SUISA for all sister societies in the world. Deployed on an IBM mainframe using Cincom Smalltalk, the IPI system is a Windows desktop application that updates transactions and inquiries submitted to SUISA via the internet by the other copyright societies in an EDI-based protocol. The IPI system keeps track of the differences for each copyright society. Hundreds of users may be online at any one time. Copyright societies are permitted to maintain local copies of IPI data, which minimizes network traffic.

Another Cincom Smalltalk application is the Global Documentation Distribution Network (GDDN), which uses IPI data in real time. The goal of the GDDN project was to develop a global and interconnected network of databases for musical and audio-visual works, agreements, and carrier and recording information. Used worldwide by the music copyright societies, the GDDN allows every music copyright society to obtain all the necessary information needed to collect royalties and pay copyright owners. For instance, a German copyright society could collect and distribute money following the performance of an American song on a Bavarian stage. To use IPI data in real time, the GDDN system needed a broker, which was implemented as a web service using a server developed with VisualWorks.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Learn more about SUISA (PDF).