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Music Industry Forum: German assocs present united front

Six industry associations, including live sector bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, have joined forces to create Germany’s first pan-music industry grouping.

Dubbed the Music Industry Forum (Forum Musikwirtschaft), the new alliance comprises the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry), venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission), DMV (German Music Publishers’ Association), VUT (Association of Independent Music Companies), SOMM (Society of Music Merchants) and recording industry body BVMI (Federal Association of the Music Industry).

While the Music Industry Forum is not a formal umbrella body (in the vein of UK Music or Spain’s Esmúsica), the six partners say the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis have made them realise the need for a collective voice of the German music industry.

“We live in a time of solidarity and alliances, and also in a time when we have all recognised that acting together brings more than working individually,” explains BDKV head Jens Michow (pictured), speaking to MusikWoche. “The music industry has never spoken with one voice before now, and it is a great achievement to be able to do on issues that affect us all.”

“The music industry has never spoken with one voice before”

VUT managing director Jörg Heidemann says working together will allow the music industry to present a united front to government. Usually, he says, “we are too business-focused for the BKM [ministry of culture and media] and too culture-oriented for the ministry of economic affairs, so we are sent back and fourth between them without ever really getting a foot in the door.”

Among the first priorities for the Music Industry Forum will be to organise a joint conference and prepare research on the German music industry.

Despite launching amid the Covid-19 pandemic, SOMM’s Daniel Knöll says he hopes the partnership will “continue to exist even after the corona era”.

“We have all identified numerous topics where we have the same objectives, even under more normal conditions,” he explains, “and we will be able to increase the political pressure if we permanently pool the strengths of these six business associations.”


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Germany’s Echo Awards axed amid antisemitism row

The Echo Music Prize, the German recording industry’s highest accolade, will not return in 2018, organisers have announced, amid a controversy over antisemitism that has left the awards’ reputation “so badly damaged that a completely new beginning is necessary”.

The Echos were criticised worldwide after handing the 2018 award for best hip-hop/urban album to rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah for 2017’s Jung, brutal, gutaussehend 3. The album includes a song, ‘0815’, where the two rap about their bodies being “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners,” while another line says they’re planning “another Holocaust, coming with a molotov”.

Additionally, the ceremony honouring Bang (real name Farid El Abdellaoui), of Moroccan origin, and Kollegah (Felix Blume), a Muslim convert, took place on 12 April, International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah).

The awards were greeted with outcry by Jewish groups, including the International Auschwitz Committee and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and number of previous awards winners have since given back their Echos, including conductors Daniel Barenboim, Christian Thielemann and Enoch zu Guttenberg, singer Marius Müller-Westernhagen, pianist Igor Levit and record producer Klaus Voormann

Campino, lead singer of acclaimed German punk band Die Toten Hosen, also criticised the duo’s win in his acceptance speech, and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The row comes at a time of heightened concern over the resurgence of antisemitism in Germany, after a man wearing skullcap was attacked by a Syrian in Berlin last Wednesday.

“The Echo brand is so badly damaged a completely new beginning is necessary”

Jewish organisations in Germany have also expressed concern over a rise in the bullying of Jews in schools, which has been condemned by chancellor Angela Merkel as “another form of antisemitism”.

Florian Druecke, chairman of the BVMI (Bundesverband Musikindustrie, Federal Music Industry Association), said last week it had been a mistake to give the award to El Abdellaoui and Blume and apologised to Germany’s Jews and “anyone else whose feelings were hurt by this”.

But the damage had been done: In a statement released today, the BVMI says the awards have, by their association with the rappers, been tainted with “antisemitism, contempt for women, homophobia and the promotion of violence” and must be brought to an end.

Unlike the main Echo Awards – whose nominees were largely based on sales – sister prizes Echo Klassik and Echo Jazz are decided solely by a jury, the statement continues, and the new pop music prize should be, too. The BVMI will invite input from the industry as to the format of the replacement awards, as well as the make-up of the jury, in January.

Echo Jazz will go ahead as planned on 31 May, it concludes, but will no longer be broadcast on television: “The focus will be on the artists and their music.”


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