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15 Years of ECSA

Today we take a moment to celebrate the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance as our Honorary President Alfons Karabuda takes us on a journey among the accomplishments of the past fifteen years. 

It is such a privilege to have been part of and entrusted to lead ECSA as President during these 15 years. I remember an organisation with highly dedicated members wanting to influence and make a difference but realising first having to break through the lobbying noise of Brussels and make their voice heard and trusted to be able to open the doors of power where relevant decisions were made. - Alfons Karabuda (ECSA’s Honorary President)

After ECSA was officially established as an Alliance at the Teatro Circo Price in Madrid in 2007, we started becoming more and more involved with advocating for the rights of music authors at European and International level.

In the process of the Copyright Directive alone, we systematically strengthened our unified voice of the European music authors through different tools such as our own Creators Conference attracting influential policymakers and with us winning the first prize “International Conference, Brussels” for one of the editions, even more so.

Here a memory from the Creators Conference in 2016, with European Commission Vice-President (2014-2019) Andrus Ansip also leading the project team “Digital Single Market”.

The 2013 edition of ECSA's Creators Conference with Yekaterina Samutsevich (Pussy Riot), and Ole Reitov (Freemuse)  discussing freedom of speech and authors' rights. Entitled "Your Voice – Your Rights".

This was an important event giving witness to the importance of authors' rights as a tool to strengthen freedom of speech and not the opposite as especially some from the Pirate Party claimed back then. 

Here a memory from the 2020 Creators Conference with a panel discussing on the state of play of the national implementation of Article 17 of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive with Helienne Lindvall (Songwriter, Ivors Academy for Music Creators, UK/Sweden), Thorbjörn Öström (Senior Legal Counsel, STIM), Helga Trüpel (former MEP - Greens, Germany), Marco Giorello (European Commission, DG CONNECT, Head of the Copyright Unit) and Sarah Jacquier (Policy and Legal Officer, French Ministry of Culture).

In this regard, 2019 was a very special year for all of us with the final adoption of the Copyright Directive. This was the culmination of ECSA’s common efforts to defend and promote music authors in the EU and the first time that the EU adopts basic standards of transparency and fairness to the benefit of authors. But the fight is not over yet.

ECSA achieved these results in close partnership with “The Authors’ Group”, Europe’s leading Authors’ network representing hundreds of thousands of authors, including writers, literary translators, composers, songwriters, film/TV directors and screenwriters in Europe. The Authors’ Group consists of the following associations: European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA), Federation of European Film and TV Directors (FERA) and Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), the European Writers’ Council (EWC) and with all of us speaking with one voice our meetings were now on the highest level.

Here with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

What has informed, convinced and inspired me the most are the true testimonies from my colleagues. Their contribution to our work cannot be underestimated. A couple of these meetings I know made a difference were with Björn Ulveaus (ABBA) and Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music etc).

Composer, songwriter and ABBA-member Björn Ulvaeus joined ECSA President Alfons Karabuda and MEP Axel Voss (Rapporteur on the 2019 EU Copyright Directive) in a call to close the value gap and make sure that online platforms fairly remunerate creators. Around 40 participants from the European Parliament, including the first Vice-President of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness (in the picture) participated in the exclusive exchange.

Here in 2017, with musician and Roxy Music member Phil Manzanera and Alfons Karabuda and the host for the ECSA meeting at the Parliament and special rapporteur for the Copyright Directive Member of the European Parliament Axel Voss and former Member of the European Parliament, Helga Trüpel. 

With the #ECSA4CopyrightDirective video initiative in 2020, ECSA Members called for an ambitious and faithful implementation of the Copyright Directive for all creators. 23 representatives from 18 different countries participated in the video. Watch it here.

With time, ECSA became a natural expert voice in media on the topic of Copyright and the prerequisites for flourishing music and culture in Europe.

Some of our recent reports and papers include: ECSA's vision on copyright buyoutsECSA's position on Artificial Intelligence, and ECSA's position on Music Streaming

Patrick Ager (former Secretary-General), Bernard Grimaldi, John Groves, Alfons Karabuda & Klaus Ager

So not a bad trip from the little office corner in a room shared with multiple organisations, where I remember the first ECSA sign by the door came misspelt but, without finances to change it, we left it for years as: The European Composer and “Songwritter” Alliance.

Throughout the years, ECSA also successfully organised various cultural activities, notably various European Contemporary Composers Orchestra (ECCO) concerts, Camille Awards ceremonies, the Capacity Triangle workshops and webinars , the European Film Music Days (EFMD) in Cannes and the International Creators Roundtables.

Have a look at some memories below.

Here our ECCO working group meeting in June 2015. With Lorenzo Carola, Stephen McNeff, Jana Andreevska, James Morgan (BBC Singers) & Dušan Bavdek.

The Ensemble Fractales and some of the composers selected for the ECCO Concert in February 2020 in Brussels. 

The ECCO Concert in 2015 in Brussels with the Sturm und Klang Ensemble.

The Grand Scores (now Camille Awards) winners in 2017. Gaute Storaas, Dennis Dreith taking the award for Lalo Schifrin, Sophia Ersson, Victor Reyes.

Ceremony for the Camille Lifetime Achievement Award to Maestro Ennio Morricone in February 2020. The trio: Luca Pincini, Gilda Buttà and Paolo Zampini.

Here at the European Film Music Day in Cannes, 2019.

Here the Roundtable with representatives from Google in 2016. 

Here one of the panel discussions of the European Film Music Day in 2018.  With Alfons Karabuda, Vick Bain, Iva Zakbar, Eva Gancedo and Nainita Desai. 

Let us thank first and foremost the European Union's Creative Europe Programme for its invaluable support for all these activities throughout the years, which would have not existed without its support.

We would also like to acknowledge all ECSA external project partners, supporters and friends and last but not least all our members for their participation, dedication and engagement throughout these fifteen years. 

Below find some pictures from our ECSA Sessions and members meetings throughout the years. 

ECF Committee Meeting in Warsaw, 2007.

FFACE Committee Meeting in Rome, 2008.

The 2011 meeting in Alicante, Spain.

ECSA's General Assembly in Skopje, North Macedonia in 2014.

ECSA General meeting in Brussels, 2015.

The ECSA Session in Stockholm 2019.

ECSA Session in Brussels, 2020.

On the 14th of February 2022, the ECSA members gathered online in the frame of the ECSA Winter session to elect its new Board Members that will lead the alliance in the years to come.

As the outgoing ECSA President, I am delighted to see such a healthy organisation facing the political, economic, and cultural challenges ahead of us. I am convinced that the new board under the leadership of Helienne Lindvall certainly will meet the needs of the European community of composers, lyricists and songwriters. 

Alfons Karabuda, ECSA Honorary President