Lieberberg on growth plans (and bribing the weather god)
Live Nation GSA president and managing director Andre Lieberberg has said the company is pursuing a strategy of “aggressive but organic growth” two years after its effective acquisition of Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK).
MLK, said Lieberberg – the son of MLK founder Marek, who is now Live Nation GSA’s CEO – had a “conservative approach to growth” throughout the 13 years he worked there. “Marek always said, ‘We only do our own events,’” he told IQ editor Gordon Masson at Reeperbahn Festival today. “It wasn’t like we had a clear strategic path of having to grow for growth’s sake, or post increasing numbers every year. On the one hand that was a good thing, but also hindered you, to some degree, in being more aggressive and ballsy in what you can do.”
Both Lieberbergs left MLK in August to form new company Live Nation Concerts Germany, although the MLK name, assets and Rock am Ring/Rock im Park festivals stayed with CTS Eventim.
Lieberberg told Masson being part of an “American company listed on the stock exchange” is “of course very different to what we were used to” – but that Live Nation GSA (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) is a “more rounded company” than MLK: “We’re still a promoter but we’re also a media company – for example, we’ve just set up a sponsorship and brand partnerships division…
He said the company also has different attitude towards hiring. “All three MDs all Live Nation GSA agree on growth by staffing,” he explained. “Everyone had to be approved by Marek before, which has obviously changed.”
As for acquisitions, Lieberberg insisted LN GSA is “not going to buy up every festival in Germany” – “we wouldn’t have the money even if we wanted to,” he joked – “but certainly there are going to be more partnerships over the next five years.” The company made its first acquisition, of Openair Frauenfeld, in July, although, as is standard for Live Nation, founder Rene Götz will continue to run the festival.
He added that he “understands the concern from independents” (promoters) about Live Nation’s entry into the German market, “but I don’t see that we’re a threat to them. […] Since we became Live Nation we haven’t done anything to shrink anyone else’s output, or marginalise them in any way.”
Masson also asked about the Lieberbergs’ Rock am Ring festival, which was once again partially cancelled this summer, this time over after a terrorism scare, later revealed to be the result of a spelling error. In 2015 and 2016 festivalgoers were injured by lightning strikes, with the final day of the 2016 event called off altogether.
“We’re still looking for a way to bribe the weather god,” joked Lieberberg. “We’ve had four years of Murphy’s law” (the festival was forced to move in 2014 after a falling out between MLK and the Nürburgring racetrack), “so I’m hoping next year will be better!”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.