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Matt Schwarz on DreamHaus’s first festival season

"Working on Rock am Ring/Rock im Park again felt like getting back on the bike – you never forget how to do it"

By IQ on 17 Nov 2022

DreamHaus CEO and managing partner, Matt Schwarz

DreamHaus CEO and managing partner, Matt Schwarz


DreamHaus CEO Matt Schwarz has spoken to IQ about the company’s “hugely successful and record-breaking” festival summer.

Having launched in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Berlin-based promoter waited almost two years to clock in for its first festival summer and even then, it wasn’t business as usual in Germany.

“Rock am Ring and Rock im Park were the first two major festivals of the season in central Europe after two years of Covid-19 related cancellations,” explains Schwarz.

“By March we still didn’t know if we could host the festivals due to Covid-19. Almost everything happened at the last minute, including the introduction and implementation of new features such as cashless payment for both editions, new festival apps and much more.”

In addition to the time crunch, the promoter had to deal with a slate of prevailing challenges including “lack of specialised personnel, increased production costs, and inflation and recession due to the geopolitical situation and the world being upside down”.

Despite the numerous hurdles, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park went ahead between the 3–5 June at Nürburgring race track and Zeppelin Field and sold a record 90,000 and 70,000 tickets respectively.

“[Rock am Ring] was the most successful festival stream ever in Germany”

“We were all the more relieved that the festivals turned out to be a huge success with record-breaking attendances and Rock am Ring being broadcast live/live in its entirety,” says Schwarz. “Streaming numbers exceeded any expectations making it the most successful festival stream ever in Germany.”

The festival was livestreamed via German streaming service RTL+, with fans around the world able to watch performances from the likes of Green Day, Muse, Volbeat, Placebo and Måneskin – free of charge.

In addition, the festival partnered with TikTok to bring the ‘Rock am Ring experience’ to the worldwide community through hashtag campaigns, live programmes, official playlists and backstage content with popular creators.

This year marks the first time DreamHaus has organised and programmed the twin festivals (along with eventimpresents) and for Schwarz, it’s a full-circle moment.

Rock am Ring was founded by Marcel Avram and Marek Lieberberg’s Mama Concerts in 1985, while Rock im Park took place for the first time in 1995 under Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK).

Schwarz was formerly VP of touring and festivals at MLK, before becoming MD and COO of Live Nation GSA when Lieberberg sold MLK to Eventim’s live music subsidiary Medusa Group in 2015. From 2016, the CTS-owned festivals were co-promoted with Lieberberg, now CEO of Live Nation GSA.

“I pondered a lot about what it would be like to work on The Rocks again”

Schwarz resigned his position at Live Nation GSA in February 2020 and in October of the same year, DreamHaus was launched with scant details and the ominous message “If you know you know”.

At the same time, it was announced that Schwarz would return to work on Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, but this time as head of eventimpresents (the company formerly known as MLK).

In February 2021, CTS Eventim acquired DreamHaus and it was announced that, under the Eventim Live umbrella, the promoter would be responsible for organising and programming the festivals from 2022, along with eventimpresents.

“Beforehand, I pondered a lot about what it would be like to work on The Rocks again,” Schwarz tells IQ. “Honestly, it felt like getting back on the bike – you never forget how to do it.”

While the DreamHaus CEO says that working on the marquee festivals was his highlight of 2022, the promoter has plenty of milestones to pick from.

This year also saw DreamHaus join forces with FKP Scorpio and Loft Concerts for a brand new Berlin-based festival, Tempelhof Sounds.

“Our new heavyweight domestic act Apache 207 sold over 60,000 tickets in seconds blowing out five arenas”

Touted as “an inclusive and cosmopolitan festival,” the three-day event saw the likes of Muse, The Strokes and Florence and the Machine perform on the grounds of Tempelhof Airport between 10–12 June.

On the touring side of the business, Schwarz says DreamHaus has promoted hundreds of concerts this year – mainly on the club and theatre level – and sold approximately 750,000 tickets in 2022.

“Our new heavyweight domestic act Apache 207 [German rapper] sold over 60,000 tickets in seconds blowing out five arenas,” says Schwarz. “We’re also very pleased with the ticket sales for Måneskin, Kid Cudi, Muse, Sam Smith, Lewis Capaldi and Tenacious D.”

Among Schwarz’s personal highlights for 2022 was a rescheduled concert from German superstar Marteria at the open-air concert venue Berlin Waldbühne (cap. 22,290).

“It got cancelled just minutes before doors due to a massive thunderstorm,” he says. “Luckily, we were able to return to the venue a few days later when Marteria caught up on the show and delivered a terrific concert.

“Another highlight was the beautiful James Blake show at Verti Music Hall, booked by Pana [Ioannis Panagopoulo] from our team. He is one of my favourite artists and it was such a special night.”

DreamHaus’ touring numbers are all the more impressive given Germany’s fractured and sluggish reopening, which has seen the market trail behind its European counterparts.

“2023 is going to be an uphill battle; the worst is yet to come”

“There was a lot of uncertainty around the varying Covid restrictions in the individual federal states,” says Schwarz. “And when a lot of the western world opened up, we still had to deal with these restrictions. This certainly had an impact on the potential ticket buyers who are still wary.

“People tend to wait and buy their ticket much later in the campaign and closer to the show date for most of the tours unless it’s blockbuster content. Outdoor shows are getting more popular.”

Schwarz expects that consumer trepidation will continue next year, prolonging the business’ full recovery.

“Everyone thought 2022 to be the transition year after the pandemic,” he says. “Now it turns out that 2023 will be the transition year. We will have to face inflation and recession which have an impact on how and what people will spend their money on. It’s going to be an uphill battle; the worst is yet to come. Our modus operandi, therefore, is “less is more” in regard to show count and risks.”

 


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