TEOSTO – 85 years for the love of music
Written by: Kim Kuusi, 2013
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Early in 1928, Finland’s future must have seemed just as turbulent and chaotic as it does now, 85 years later. Back then, Finland as an independent nation was only just approaching her teens, and Finnish artists were well conversant with the European cultural landscape. Recording technology arrived on our shores in the form of portable gramophones. The Finnish Broadcasting Company was just starting out, and the ten-member ensemble known as the Radio Orchestra – now the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra – was fresh out of the box.
Finland’s legislation already provided for protection of composers’ rights to their works, but even Sibelius himself had to go to Germany to find an institution to safeguard those rights on his behalf. So it was that one fine day in March a “group of Finnish musicians and other interested parties” assembled at the Fazer concert agency on Kluuvikatu in Helsinki to set up a Finnish organisation to safeguard their interests in a changing world.
The Finnish Composers’ Copyright Agency, Teosto, is now celebrating its 85th anniversary, and the world around it has not stopped changing. Technological innovations are constantly creating new ways of listening to music and to make money out of it. More music is being created and listened to than at any time in history, and finding and listening to music has never been so easy and affordable.
Accordingly, music is the target of passionate interests on the part of listeners, the music industry and legislators. At times even the rights of us music authors seem like a mere pawn in the game. International competition for authors’ rights is escalating, and our self-governed system is being challenged from many directions.
Teosto is the oldest and strongest of Finland’s copyright agencies and often has to bear the public brunt of responding to difficult issues concerning the creative sector as a whole. It is often forgotten that Teosto serves not only authors but users of music too, enabling users to use music so that authors receive fair compensation for that use. Indeed, our customer service and making the use of music simpler are objects of continuous development for us. In the near future, we will be working even more closely with Gramex, which represents performing artists and recording producers.
Throughout its history, Teosto has remained faithful to the ideals of its founders. We remain a non-profit organisation that collects royalties for performances of music and pays them out to rightholders. Transparency and efficiency form the cornerstone of our existence. We must be constantly prepared for change, anticipate the future and update our means for safeguarding the interests of music authors at home and abroad.
It is important for the vitality of the entire creative sector that Teosto remains a strong operator. Teosto must remain strong for the simple reason that at the core of the music business is the music itself; musical works created by authors. This is the beginning and end of everything we do. When authors can fully focus on their creative activities, new music is created that helps revitalise Finnish culture. Facilitating the success of music authors not only contributes to a diverse and vibrant culture but also enriches Finland’s creative economy. And let’s face it, at this point in time we need success stories in the creative economy more desperately than ever.