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German live industry reports sluggish return

Industry figures have called for additional aid, amid fears the economic effects of the pandemic will continue to rumble on until 2024

By James Hanley on 03 May 2022

BDKV's Jens Michow is part of the Event Management Forum alliance

Jens Michow

Live music promoters in Germany have reported sluggish ticket sales for upcoming concerts, despite the lifting of Covid restrictions.

BDKV president Jens Michow reports weak advance sales for shows planned for autumn 2022 and spring 2023, exacerbated by staffing shortages and an oversupply of events, while no-show rates have ranged from 15-40%

LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich tells Backstage Pro that outdoor gigs are proving significantly more popular than indoor shows. Older music fans have been more hesitant to return to shows since the restart, he adds, and at least a third of the workforce is yet to return since leaving the touring business due to the onset of Covid-19.

Ballreich says that his costs have already risen by 20-30%, and increases in catering and security are anticipated to be between 30% and 50%, with industry figures fearing the economic effects of the pandemic will continue to rumble on until 2024.

“Our dependence on state aid will not end anytime soon”

A special fund introduced for cultural events is currently set to expire at the end of June, but BDKV president Jens Michow stresses that some live music companies will not be able to generate income again until mid-2023 at the earliest.

“Our dependence on state aid will therefore not end anytime soon,” he says. “That’s why I make it clear to politicians every day that organisers cannot go back to 100% overnight.”

Michow also notes a lack of confidence among consumers due to repeat concert cancellations during the pandemic, while there remains uncertainty as to whether capacity limits will need to be re-introduced in the autumn.

“In the event that there are restrictions again, we need an economic rescue package now… that we can use if there are capacity restrictions again or even a new lockdown for our industry,” he adds.

“The industry is still a long way from the economic level of 2019”

Full capacity shows have been permitted in Germany since March, but the country’s much-trumpeted “freedom day” was met with a muted response from event professionals due to federal states retaining the power to impose “hot-spot regulations” to deal with future outbreaks.

“With the temporary end of the Corona measures, the event business is starting up again in small steps,” says Germany’s Event Management Forum, which includes BDKV and LiveKomm, among other cultural organisations. “However, the industry is still a long way from the economic level of 2019.

“Above all, there is a lack of sufficient planning security. The bridging aid expires at the end of June [and] a programme ‘Neustart Kultur 3’, which would be urgently needed in the coming year, is not yet being planned.

“The situation in the economic sector is made more difficult by the public’s considerable reluctance to buy, rising inflation and the expected economic effects of the war in Ukraine. And since nobody knows how the pandemic situation will develop after the summer, there is an urgent need for a rescue package that takes effect.”


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