As the German collecting society GEMA intends to raise the fees for music clubs some hundred percents next year, possibly leading to many shutdowns, an alternative seems to emerge at the digital edges of society: http://www.c-3-s.eu
In mid term, C3S (Cultural Commons Collecting Society) places the emphasis on digital and live licenses rather than radio and tv coverage, so this is ideal for an underground genre like dark ambient. They plan to found bureaus in all EU countries.
I always wanted to get rid of GEMA, because only a few percent of the acts in the playlist are actually members of some collecting society, but the fee is like it's 100%. There simply wasn't an alternative to this blatant injustice. You have to know, here in Germany the burden of proof is on your side, if you play music in public: you have to list all artists with real name and postal address, if you want to avoid paying GEMA. It would take me weeks, if not months, to do the research, and at the end I problably would have to scrap halve of the music because I wasn't able to find out the contact details. This always horrified me. But with the attack on the club scene, I'm slowly overcoming my reluctance.
With C3S rising, this burden of proof could change and I could assume that 90% of the artists are actually happy to be played here and don't want cash from a non-profit online radio (this is my usual experience). This is why I didn't accept donations btw. They only would have been thrown in the mouths of bureaucratic monsters where dark ambient artists would only see a few cents at best. This is something I have to live with -- or had till now...
C3S seems to be a real democratically controlled organization, run by it's members and there is no two class membership like in the GEMA. There is no exclusive membership like with GEMA. And the best: it's not founded by nazis, but activists trying to reconcile the changed exploitation modes of immaterial products with everyone's cultural participation claims. And they are willing to develop the technical means to cover every single title broadcasted or played by a DJ and forward the license fees in a fair manner.
If you produce dark ambient music and are member of the GEMA, consider switching to C3S this autumn, because I plan on leaving GEMA/GVL next year -- one way or the other.