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Germany’s Wizard Promotions reports record year

German tour promoter Wizard Promotions has reported a record year, with half a million visitors in 2023.

The company’s historic year is buoyed by a summer of big-name concerts for the likes of Iron Maiden, Scorpions and KISS.

KISS bid farewell to Germany for good with a sold-out show in Cologne’s Lanxess Arena, marking the end of a chapter for Wizard founder Ossy Hoppe who has been working with the band since the ’80s.

During the summer season alone, the Frankfurt-based promoter sold more than 250,000 tickets for heavy rock shows.

In addition to the established rock and metal segment, Wizard’s portfolio also includes singer-songwriters and country artists.

“We can look back on two years at full throttle”

Highlights across those genres include sold-out concerts by US star Luke Combs and the sister duo Larkin Poe, as well as announced appearances by Tyler Childers, Charles Esten, Darius Rucker, Ferris & Sylvester and many others.

“We can look back on two years at full throttle and a successful Christmas season, which is not something to be taken for granted,” says Wizard MD Oliver Hoppe, son of Ossy. “People want to go ‘live’ again. That’s a great feeling and fills our work with a lot of joy.”

In 2024, Wizard’s 20th anniversary year, TOTO will play seven open-air shows in Germany and Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson will present his first solo album since 2005 with The Mandrake Project.

Plus, Scorpions will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their successful album Love At First Sting and Zucchero will go on another world tour and NENA recently confirmed well over 30 shows in Germany and Europe.

Looking to the future, Hoppe says: “Despite rising ticket sales, the industry is facing major challenges: The financial pressure on culture has become immense and young people, in particular, need subcultural freedom that is affordable. Otherwise, there is a risk of monoculture and thus a loss of diversity. And this is precisely what we want to protect and promote in the coming years.”

Hoppe adds that seven new employees under the age of 30 have joined the workforce in the last two years, “making the team not only younger but also more diverse”.

 


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Wizard sells 250k tickets for summer rock shows

Germany’s Wizard Promotions has revealed it has sold more than 250,000 tickets for heavy rock shows this summer.

The Frankfurt-based promoter’s run of dates kicks off this weekend with rock veterans Scorpions, who bring their Rock Believer tour to Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle on Sunday 14 May, followed by arena gigs in Mannheim, Hannover, Stuttgart and Berlin.

Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe will follow at the end of May, with concerts by Iron Maiden and Papa Roach coming up in June alongside Kiss, who will mark their German swansong with five farewell shows, concluding at Cologne’s Lanxess Arena on 2 July.

“It will certainly be an emotional moment to see the band leave the big stages in Germany for the last time after so many decades of working together, but we are all the more looking forward to working on new topics and artists that we are already familiar with will employ in the future,” says Wizard MD Oliver Hoppe.

“Concerts and spectacular stage programs are irreplaceable”

Wizard Promotions has announced 300 shows across all genres for 2023, also including the likes of Ingrid Andress, Larkin Poe and Ane Brun, while debut tours are currently being planned with Awfultune and SKAAR,

In addition, Wizard is expanding its country music division to showcase artists such as Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Jon Pardi, Sean McConnell and Morgan Wade.

“Every artist and every band that belongs to us has their own idea of ​​where we want to go with them,” adds Hoppe. “Above all, we know everyone personally and they know us. I’m at at least one show with every group that we have on the street, especially with young bands.”

Hoppe concludes: “Concerts and spectacular stage programs are irreplaceable. Live experiences are a cultural asset that we love – and which was sorely missed, not least by the fans, during the pandemic. Loud guitars, choirs from the crowd of spectators , but also the quiet, intimate show moments are finally back and the longing for them is great.”

 


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The wonderful wizard of Oss: 70 years of Hoppe

Trying to keep a secret from one of the best-connected people in the business has not been easy. However, with the help of some of Ossy’s family, friends and confidantes – and some historical information taken from an anniversary feature that appeared in IQ in 2015 – we hope that when this issue of the magazine landed on Ossy’s doorstep, this feature came as something of a surprise.

When IQ spoke to Ossy Hoppe, on the pretext of a coronavirus story back in March, the enigmatic promoter was at home in rural France, near the village of Cotignac in Provence. “I’m in the middle of nowhere, four kilometres from the nearest supermarket, where there are never more than four or five people in the shop, so I’m used to being in isolation,” he reported. “I’m with my donkeys, dogs, cats, and the wife. In that order,” he laughed. “This is a novelty to all of us – it’s like we’re in a science-fiction movie – and nobody ever expected we’d be in this kind of situation. But I think this will change people’s attention toward appreciating some of the things we’re used to taking for granted. We’re delighted when a bird sings, at the moment.”



While millions of people around the world struggled to come to terms with the enforced – and long-lasting – house arrest situation, Ossy had unwittingly been in training for the past few years, since stepping back from being the boss at Wizard Promotions to taking on the role of consultant for the company. “Normally, these days, I’m in France for three weeks and then Germany for one week of the month,” he said. “A lot of the business can be done by phone anyway, so it doesn’t really matter where I am. The nitty-gritty is taken care of by the team in the Wizard offices, while I’m tasked with getting the clients, alongside [son and Wizard MD] Oliver, and making the offers.”

At that point, Ossy dropped off the line to pick up another call. “That was my boss, Oliver,” he said on his return, before addressing what has happened to the live music business in the wake of the spread of coronavirus.

“I’ve never seen anything like it – and I’ve been doing this a long, long time,” he stated. “We’re in a very fortunate position because our insurance covers this, so our costs are covered.” Even at this early stage in the crisis, Hoppe foresaw that a lot of smaller promoters, as well as some of the bigger ones, would run into problems, with suppliers and smaller acts in particular likely “to suffer”.

“It’s crucial that everyone keeps talking so that when things do start to return to normal, we’re all ready to go”

Hoppe also predicted that the business might not get going again until next year. “It’s crucial that everyone keeps talking so that when things do start to return to normal, we’re all ready to go,” he said. “Nobody knows when that might be – if you talk to three people, you get four opinions. So, I’m trying to remain optimistic and look forward to better times.”

A Born Entertainer
Life on the road for Ossy is literally in his blood, as he was born into a circus family that was touring their native Germany at the time little Oskar Hoppe junior made his first appearance, on 28 April 1950. “I was born in Munich because that’s where the circus was performing at the time,” recalled Ossy in IQ issue 59. “After the war, the allies were very careful about who they trusted, but because my father, Oskar, had hidden Jewish friends from the Nazis, the Americans gave him the authority to grant entertainment licences. He married into a circus family, but then he met my mother who became his fourth wife.”

Ossy was immersed in circus life and by the age of five, he was already a star attraction, billed as the youngest elephant trainer in the world alongside his pachyderm co-stars, Bounty and Chandra. Despite that fame, Ossy’s mother, Apollonia, was determined he should receive a proper education, so initially he attended the first permanent circus school, established by his father, before enrolling at boarding school.

Sadly, Ossy’s mother died when he was just 15, and by the time he was 19, he was an orphan, as his father passed away in 1969. Those circumstances saw him move in with his grandparents in Frankfurt, where he studied law at university for a time, before deciding it was time to get a job – taking on roles including nightclub doorman, building site labourer, delivery driver, and a printing plant worker.

Fate, combined with Ossy’s love of football and outgoing persona, intervened. As a team member of Makkabi Frankfurt, Ossy had already befriended team-mates Marcel Avram and Marek Lieberberg, who were the founders of new promoter business, Mama Concerts. So when Ossy picked up an injury and was looking for work, Avram employed him as his driver before trusting him to take on the role of tour manager. “Ossy was the best player in the team,” states Avram. “He was twice as fast as me and made us all look good, so we liked him.”

Always ready to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in, Ossy’s can-do attitude quickly earned him a lot of friends in the live music business

Always ready to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in, Ossy’s can-do attitude quickly earned him a lot of friends in the live music business, so when he volunteered his services to help out with Deep Purple’s impending 1973 American tour, one week later he found himself on the other side of the Atlantic. But not before meeting the love of his life, Barbara, on the eve of his departure to the United States.

Given that the couple now have a menagerie of animals, including their donkey sanctuary, at home in Provence, it won’t come as a surprise to many that Barbara worked for a veterinary surgeon when she first met Ossy. But they had one significant question to answer before they could start dating. “Barbara’s name was also Hoppe,” states Ossy. “It’s not a common name in Frankfurt, so I had to check on her background because my father was married five times in total…” The outcome of those investigations obviously worked out, as Ossy and Barbara have been together now for 37 years and celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary this year.

Back in 1973, Ossy found himself in the role of Ian Gillan’s assistant on that tour with Purple, but having impressed all who were on the road that year, he soon climbed the ladder to become the band’s tour manager, kick-starting a relationship rivalled in length only by the one with his wife.

Indeed, Purple were so impressed by Ossy that when the band split, they persuaded Ossy and Barbara to move to England, and even arranged a mortgage for them so that Ossy could look after various solo projects and acts. “The house, in Amersham, near London, became the headquarters for all of the Deep Purple spin-offs,” says Ossy. “So I looked after Whitesnake, Rainbow, Paice Ashton Lord, and the Ian Gillan Band as they took off.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 89, or subscribe to the magazine here

Oliver Hoppe becomes sole Wizard Promotions MD

Oliver Hoppe has become sole managing director of Germany’s Wizard Promotions.

His father, Ossy Hoppe, stays on as chief advisor, A&R, following Oliver’s accession to the top job at the beginning of 2017.

Hoppe Snr founded Wizard in 2004 and was bought out by Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) in June 2013. He is one of Germany’s most senior promoters and managers, most famous for his work with hard rock acts such as Deep Purple, Kiss, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses and for founding the Monsters of Rock festival in 1981.

On his 60th birthday, he was the subject of a feature in IQ 59 which charted his story from child circus performer to giant of concert promotion.

Oliver had been co-managing director of Wizard since 2012.

“I am extremely pleased … to be able to fully hand over management to my son. It was always my great wish that Oliver would continue my work”

Ossy Hoppe comments: “I am extremely pleased and, at the same time, also reassured to be able to fully hand over the management to my son. It was always my great wish that Oliver would continue my work, and with his many years’ experience, as well as considerable professional expertise, he unites all the elements which will guide the company into a successful future.

“Oliver has already been managing the business for some time now, and the transfer was a smooth process. I will, of course, continue to advise the company and support artists with whom I have a long-standing relationship.

Oliver Hoppe adds: “I thank my father and DEAG for the trust, and feel honoured to continue the history of the Wizard Promotions concert agency into the future as one of the leading concert organisers in Germany.

“With a strong and homogenous team, we have successfully managed to respond to the new challenges of the event market in recent years with the values and core competencies of a traditional tour event organiser as the foundation. I really enjoy the interesting work of combining innovation culture with the classic values of a family business.”

 


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