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AEG Germany VP Uwe Frommhold announces retirement

Veteran AEG Europe executive Uwe Frommhold is to retire from his position as VP and COO AEG Germany after 17 years with the company.

Frommhold, who joined the company in 2007 when the company purchased the 16,000-cap. Color Line Arena in Hamburg (now the Barclays Arena), of which he was MD, will continue to serve AEG in a consulting role, working across selected projects.

“After careful consideration, and with the support of AEG Europe president & CEO Alex Hill and AEG Europe COO John Langford, I have decided the time is right to wind down my journey with AEG after 17 years with the company and 22 years in the venue business,” says Frommhold. “I am extremely grateful that I have been able to work with many incredible people during my tenure and shape the German live events landscape together with them. With a strong German leadership team in place, the time is right for me to step back.

“I would like to thank AEG for what has been an unbelievable journey and for continuously trusting and supporting me. Most importantly, I want to thank all the people at AEG, especially the teams in Hamburg, Berlin and London, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with during this time. I’m excited to see what’s next for the future of AEG in Germany and will be cheering the team on from the sidelines.”

“Renowned as a respected and well-connected leader, Uwe has indelibly shaped our business, our team and the industry”

VP & CFO Jan Kienappel will be promoted to the role of COO & CFO AEG Germany, reporting to Hill, when Frommhold’s retirement takes effect on 1 February 2024.

“As Uwe takes a step back and looks toward his well-deserved retirement, we extend our gratitude for his exceptional leadership and commitment to AEG Germany throughout his impressive 17-year tenure,” says John Langford, COO of AEG Europe.

“Renowned as a respected and well-connected leader, Uwe has indelibly shaped our business, our team and the industry. It is hard to believe that when Uwe joined AEG back in 2007 as arena director in Hamburg, the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Mercedes Platz and Verti Music Hall did not yet exist. Uwe has been instrumental in guiding AEG Germany to the market-leading position it enjoys today. The values he instilled in our German business have become the benchmark for the industry, and that says it all.”


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Verti Music Hall GM on the venue’s best year yet

Verti Music Hall GM Dirk Dreyer has told IQ how the mid-sized venue has established its place in the German market and achieved its best year yet.

The 4,350-capacity venue, which is nominated for an Arthur Award, opened in 2018 at AEG’s Mercedes Platz, a mixed-use entertainment district neighbouring the Mercedes-Benz Arena (cap. 17,000) in Berlin.

“We needed a lot of arguments to enter the market because there are already plenty of music venues in Berlin – and plenty our size,” says Dreyer, listing off its closest competitors, Tempodrom and Columbiahalle (both 3,500), “We needed to differentiate and find unique points.”

“Our strongest USP is our production capabilities and acoustics – and artists and promoters are recognising this,” he continues. “Often, mid-sized venues are former theatres or cinemas or gyms, or they are used as sports venues. Verti Music Hall is more or less the only mid-sized venue in Germany that is built for music.

“The ceiling is 16 metres high, which is why we get a lot of arena-sized productions here. Dermot Kennedy played the O2 in London and Macklemore played the Lanxess Arena in Cologne and they both played with us. Hans Zimmer rehearsed here with his full orchestra, a week before his arena show, and was able to squeeze the whole production into the venue. The rigging load is 200 tonnes, which is more than the Mercedes-Benz Arena. In terms of the acoustics, the venue is all sound panels so there’s no delay and echo. Sound people love it and so do the artists.”

“Our strongest USP is our production capabilities and acoustics”

Another aspect of Verti Music Hall that’s favoured by promoters, Dreyer says, is the arena-level expertise offered to acts playing the mid-sized venue.

“I can rely on a great team of experts in booking, event management, production management, hospitality and facility management but also the whole overhead structure [of AEG Germany] is shared. The experience of the team is something that is really well greeted by the promoters because the treatment is top notch.”

The synergy between AEG’s mid-sized venue and arena has also proved useful for agents when planning a trajectory for their artists.

“We see Verti Music Hall as a stepping stone for the artists,” explains Dreyer. “If you’re unsure where to position your artist and you place them at Verti Music Hall, there’s the opportunity to upgrade which is a huge benefit. So for example, George Ezra, who was one of the first artists to play the music hall in 2018, sold out the arena this year. Lewis Capaldi, same story.

“The downside of this is the upgrades. We’ve already lost The 1975 next spring to the arena because they sold out so quickly. For me and Verti Music Hall, it’s bad news but for the artist and AEG, it’s great news,” he laughs.

While the GM says Verti Music Hall is still in “the ramp-up” phase of creating awareness among promoters and agents, its nomination for The Venue Award (The First Venue To Come Into Your Head) says otherwise – as does the venue’s record year in 2023.

“The demand in general is higher and the demand for Verti Music Hall is higher than last year”

“We have been in full effect now for more or less than 18 months [since restrictions relaxed],” he says. “Since April last year, we’ve had 170 utilisation days including special events and corporate events, plus spend-per-head has increased.”

A questionnaire to visitors found that 75% of respondents had attended the venue before while, some artists, including Jack White, Architects, War On Drugs and the Lumineers have already returned to the stage for a second time. “So you get in this rhythm that other established venues have had for decades where the band returns every two years,” says Dreyer.

Concerts for 2024 are already stacking up, according to the GM, with scheduled concerts from the likes of Jason Derulo, Zara Larsson, Dave Matthews Band and Róisín Murphy. “I am also very much looking forward to Black Pumas and Slash returning to Verti Music Hall next year, as well as and the country festival C2C,” says Dreyer.

“We were used to a booking window of three to six months and this has definitely extended to six to 12 months,” he says. “So obviously the demand in general is higher and the demand for Verti Music Hall is higher than last year.”

While the venue seems to be successfully overcoming teething problems, there’s still a laundry list of issues in the wider market that are lingering, according to Dreyer.

“It’s not only the post-Covid situation, it’s the energy crisis, inflation, challenges in staffing and the availability of experts and materials,” he explains. “Getting a truck driver these days seems to be a difficult challenge. Also, the habits of concertgoers have slightly changed; everyone seems to be on a budget right now, so they might spend their money more wisely. Plus we have a new generation of concertgoers, as well as artists that are on stage for the very first time. We’re not really back to normal but it’s the new normal – I think it will never be like it was –  but on the whole, I must say everything more or less has changed for the better.”


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Covid-sniffing dogs trialled at German test concert

The efficacy of coronavirus detection dogs was trialled last Sunday (19 September) at a test show in Hanover.

The German trial was led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), which recently published a study that found Coronavirus detection dogs could detect the presence of Covid-19 in people with 94% accuracy, even if they are asymptomatic.

The Hanover study took place at an open-air concert by Fury in the Slaughterhouse at the Gilde Parkbühne with 500 attendees.

As part of the trial, attendees were required to take a PCR test and a rapid antigen test, and provide two arm sweat samples, which were sniffed by several dogs to detect the presence of Covid-19.

“In order to check that the dogs in the on-site entrance situation are able to recognise infected people, we smuggled in inactivated positive samples,” explains Professor Dr Holger Volk from TiHo.

“The result: the dogs have displayed all inactivated positive samples!”

“For this, there were helpers in the admission line who had the samples with them and handed them in. The result: the dogs have displayed all inactivated positive samples! So they did an excellent job,” says Volk says of the interim results, which will be corroborated with results from the PCR tests.

The Fury in the Slaughterhouse concert was the first of four trials to examine whether trained corona detection dogs are suitable for use in everyday situations.

The trials, organised in conjunction with Hannover Concerts, ProEvent Hannover and AWiAS Aviation Services GmbH, are funded by a €1.3 million grant from the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture.

Sniffer dogs were first used to detect infection in passengers in a trial at Dubai airport and since deployed in airports in Helsinki and Santiago, Chile, as well as more recently by the Miami Heat basketball team in Florida.


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Berlin’s Verti Music Hall appoints first GM

Verti Music Hall, the 4,350-capacity venue at AEG’s Mercedes-Platz in Berlin, has appointed its first general manager, 18 months after opening.

Dirk Dreyer joins AEG as Verti Music Hall GM, reporting to Uwe Frommhold, VP and COO of AEG Germany, and working alongside Michael Hapka, VP and managing director of AEG Operations Berlin. Prior to joining the Verti team, Dreyer was managing director of the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin.

“The Verti Music Hall has had an extremely successful first 18 months. Nevertheless, we have recognised that in order to further establish the Verti Music Hall in the venue market, we need to employ a general manager,” explains Frommhold.

“It feels a bit like coming home”

“Due to the current governmental ban of events, Dirk Dreyer will be joining us under the most challenging of circumstances; however, we are convinced that his presence will notably impact the Verti Music Hall in the future.”

Before moving into the hotel sector, Dreyer had a long career in the music industry, working at Sony Music, EMI and management company 313 Music, among others.

He comments: “I am really looking forward to this new challenge. As I have spent some years working in the music business previously, it feels a bit like coming home. With the Verti Music Hall, Berlin has gained a great venue with the best sound in town; this makes me even more proud to be the general manager for such a premium product.”


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