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“There’s room for everybody”: Matt Schwarz talks LN GSA success

Matt Schwarz, COO of Live Nation Germany, Switzerland and Austria (GSA), was the keynote interviewee at Reeperbahn Festival on Friday 20 September, giving a wide-ranging interview to ILMC MD Greg Parmley on the company’s journey to date.

Schwarz, 38, joked that he is the “black sheep” in a family of teachers and doctors, starting his career working for a music magazine before joining Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK), leaving to join the newly formed Live Nation GSA in 2015. “My birthday was on 31 August, and I joined Live Nation on 1 September 2015,” he explained. “We started out with 800 shows [annually] and now we’re on nearly double that, with a quarter of a million-euro turnover…”

Schwarz (pictured) told Parmley it was only a matter of time before the German market, long a stronghold of independent promoters, fell in line with the consolidation sweeping the rest of the global live music industry. “There’s a German idiom which translates to ‘change or die’,” he said. “The business and the world is changing, and you have to have awareness of that. The promoter business is the last to consolidate, after the record labels and the booking agencies.”

Why now? The ever-smaller margins on shows have played a key part, he continued: “When I started in the early 2000s I still remember 80/20 deals, and the generation before had 70/30, 60/40 and even 50/50 deals scrawled on the back of napkins…

“There’s room for everybody, and there always will be”

“But the pie isn’t getting any bigger, so there isn’t much space in the food chain to involve third parties. The music ecosystem is changing, and an oftentimes low-margin, high-risk business does not leave any room for third-party promoters, especially when you have your own boots on the ground. We have own offices in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Zurich as of now, and are able to fully self-promote our content.”

Schwarz said the biggest advantage to being part of a larger multinational group is the ability to combine US-directed global touring with local expertise.

“The importance of personal relationships is decreasing”, he explained. “It’s becoming a corporate business with some decisions and global plans made by the artists overseas: Live Nation, for example, can just buy a global tour.”

“But the artists need local operators on the ground that get the job done in the best possible way. Local expertise is important – one size doesn’t fit all. We are an artist-serving company that want to secure the highest possible standard to serve our clients and audience… local flavour is still very important in Germany, which is a very decentralised market, as well as in Switzerland, where they speak four languages.”

Schwarz also talked his involved with the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, which raised over US$650 million for charity, and his meditation practice (twice a day for 20 minutes apiece), to which he attributes his ability to easily switch between the “different worlds” of being both a senior exec and a father.

“Local expertise is important – one size doesn’t fit all”

He additionally touched on the recent warming of relations between the live and recorded music sectors, the latter of which is returning to growth as streaming grows in popularity.

“I think it’s got better. There were times before when it was tough for the labels, pre-streaming success,” he said. “Everyone looked at the live business as they saw there was money to be had – many labels even opened own in-house promoting shops – they just wanted to be involved. That’s changed as their business has become healthy again.”

Despite the squeezing of margins in live, Schwarz said there is still “definitely room for independent promoters” in the GSA countries. “There’s room for everybody,” he said, “and there always will be. It doesn’t even need to be a niche product.”

“And,” he concluded, “if they decide they don’t want to be independent, we are always happy to have a conversation!”


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Reeperbahn selects Denmark as 2020 focus nation

Reeperbahn Festival 2019 wrapped up on Sunday (23 September) following four days of panel discussions, keynote interviews, industry announcements, award ceremonies and live performances.

Organisers of the Hamburg-based conference and festival announced Denmark as next year’s focus nation shortly after the close of the 2019 festival, which drew more than 50,000 visitors, including 5,900 music industry professionals.

A “record” number of Danish bands will be present at Reeperbahn 2020, which will take place from 16 to 19 September. Denmark-focused networking events, panels and pre-events will also take place.

17 bands from 2019 focus country Australia performed at Reeperbahn this year, with Glenn Dickie of Australian music export office Sounds Australia commenting that he “couldn’t be happier with how our year as focus country has played out.”

“Our artists and managers are excited by all of the business opportunities that have been presented to them and we are excited to continue this momentum in presenting great Australian music to the German market,” says Dickie.

A “record” number of Danish bands will be present at Reeperbahn 2020

A host of industry announcements were unveiled at this year’s Reeperbahn, including the future of gender equality campaign Keychange, the creation of a mentorship scheme for European music managers and the launch of Pitchfork Music Festival in Berlin.

Ukrainian rapper alyona alyona was this year’s winner of international talent competition Anchor, with a jury comprised of Tony Visconti, Bob Rock, Peaches and Kate Nash, among others.

At the International Music Journalism Awards, IQ’s news editor Jon Chapple took home the gong for best music business journalist of the year, with Juliane Liebert of Radioeins winning best German music journalist of the year and Vivian Goldman receiving the English equivalent award.

German rock festival Open Flair (20,000-cap.) won the best festival award and multi-genre festival Haldern Pop (7,000-cap.) was received the prize for best booking.

Tickets for Reeperbahn 2020 are available here. Under early bird rates, applicable until December 31, conference tickets are priced at €138 and a four-day festival pass is €99.


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Pitchfork Music Festival goes to Berlin

US-based magazine Pitchfork is launching the first-ever Berlin edition of its music festival, the publication’s editor announced at Reeperbahn Festival, Germany, yesterday (19 September).

The festival is set to take place from 8 to 9 May 2020 at Berlin’s 3,500-capacity Tempodrom, featuring a mix of established artists and emerging musicians.

The event will be promoted by Scumeck Sabottka’s MCT Agentur, the longtime promoter of German metal band Rammstein.

The Pitchfork Music Festival launched in 2006 in Union Park, Chicago. The 20,000-capacity 2019 festival, which took place from 19 to 21 July, featured headliners Robyn, Haim and the Isley Brothers.

In 2011, the festival’s first spin-off event took place in Paris at the 15,000-capacity Grande Halle de la Villette. The 2019 edition, which takes place from 31 October to 2 November, will see performances from Skepta, Chromatics and Belle and Sebastian. Pitchfork Music Festival Paris is promoted by Parisian booking and events agency Super!.

Tickets for the upcoming Pitchfork Paris, priced at €50 for a one-day ticket and €120 for a three-day pass, are available here.

More updates on the upcoming Berlin festival can be found on Pitchfork Berlin’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.


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EMMA launches EU music managers mentorship scheme

The European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA) announced the launch of the first-ever pan-European mentorship programme for music managers today (20 September), at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival.

The European Music Managers Mentorship Activation (EMMMA – note the extra ‘M’) aims to foster knowledge sharing and increased commercial opportunities by linking managers across the European Union.

The EMMMA programme is spearheaded by pan-European artist managers’ body EMMA, which launched in London last year, comprising managers’ associations from the UK, France, Holland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Poland. The European Commission’s Music Moves Europe initiative is providing funding for the mentorship scheme.

EMMMA will team up emerging European managers with experienced mentors from each participating country. The programme will provide a combination of face-to-face meetings at MaMA Festival in France, Oslo’s by:Larm, Tallinn Music Week in Estonia and the Great Escape in the UK, with bi-monthly Skype sessions and workshops on areas including live music, touring and taxation, streaming data and making a business out of a band.

After completion of EMMMA, participants will be responsible for providing a one-year business plan for at least one of their artist, songwriter or producer clients.

“This much-needed programme will enable managers to share expertise and build their artists’ careers across borders”

“Diversification and fragmentation of the traditional music industry has undoubtedly elevated the role of music managers, who are now required to be experts in all aspects of their clients’ business – from songwriting and recording deals, to live touring, brand sponsorship, online marketing and a host of other areas,” said Per Kviman, chair Music Managers Forum (MMF) Sweden and chair of EMMA, speaking at the launch at Reeperbahn Festival.

“This much-needed programme will enable managers to share expertise and build their artists’ careers across borders. We hope it will grow over time and help build a strong network of managers across the EU. This is a big win for the future of European music.”

Virpi Immonen, vice chair of EMMA and chair of MMF Finland added: “MMF Finland is proud to be the project coordinator of this groundbreaking pan-European mentoring programme.

“Management can be a tough and stressful gig, in what is often a solitary career, and so our aim with EMMMA, and with support from the European Commission, is to start pooling and sharing the vast knowledge base that exists across the continent, and to help upcoming managers to successfully grow their business. In turn, that will offer even greater opportunities to support the careers of our artists, our songwriters and our composers.”

Applications for EMMMA will open soon. More information about the programme is available here.


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Keychange 2.0 unveiled at Reeperbahn Festival

Artists Kate Nash and Peaches revealed details of the next phase of music industry gender parity project Keychange at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg today (19 September).

A presentation, hosted by Kate Nash and Peaches alongside Pitchfork editor Puja Patel, laid out the foundations for the next four-year stage of the project. A new management structure, headed up by lead partner Reeperbahn Festival, was also announced.

The news follows the recent announcement that the gender balance initiative received €1.4 million in funding from the European Commission.

Keychange 2.0 will support 216 music creators and industry professionals – 74 each year – from countries including Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The participants will take part in a talent development programme of showcases, panels, workshops, training sessions, networking events and creative labs at 13 festivals across Europe and Canada, including two full network meetups in February and September.

A global database will list all participants and the more than 250 signatories to Keychange’s 50/50 gender-balanced line-up pledge, as well as a mentoring scheme, Keychange conference, online resources, ambassadors and an expanded management team.

“Its encouraging to see all these organisations involved with Keychange because it means that things can finally start to change,” says Nash. “Music is about feeling part of a community and feeling included – it’s about being seen and heard.”

“Its encouraging to see all these organisations involved with Keychange because it means that things can finally start to change”

An open call for Keychange 2.0 participants will launch in October 2019 through the initiative’s website. “Innovative and boundary-pushing” applicants from all partner countries are encouraged to apply. Six participants will be selected per country – three artists and three industry professionals.

Reeperbahn Festival, alongside other leading festival partners from each country – Iceland Airwaves (Iceland), BIME (Spain), Oslo World (Norway), Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), Ireland Music Week (Ireland), Way Out West (Sweden), Linecheck (Italy), Liverpool Sound City (UK), Spring Break (Poland) Mutek (Canada), BreakOut West (Canada) and MAMA (France) – will each host six to twelve international Keychange participants.

“With Keychange 1.0, we have been addressing the necessity of gender equality in the music business since 2017,” comments Reeperbahn chief executive Alex Schulz.

“Phase 2.0 not only extends Pledge 2022 for balanced line-ups in festivals to other organisations and music sub-markets, but also expands our mentoring programmes and workshops as well as the European database, so that our innovators and artists can implement the transformative power of Keychange in the best possible way and carry it out into the world.”

Reeperbahn will work closely with Keychange founder PRS Founder and Sweden’s Musikcentrum Öst to lead Keychange 2.0.


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Reeperbahn Festival gears up for 14th edition

European conference and showcase festival Reeperbahn kicks off on Wednesday (18 September), with more than 300 panels, networking events and showcases taking place over four days in Hamburg, Germany.

Sessions in the conference’s live strand include ‘30 Years of Wacken’, an interview between the metal festival’s founders Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen, moderated by IQ’s Jon Chapple and German journalist Birgit Reuther. The panel will celebrate the event’s 30th year and explore what the future holds for the popular metal gathering.

The festival season 2019 /2020 sees Stefan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Roel Coppen (Friendly Fire) and James Wright (UTA) among those asking whether 2019’s slow festival season was a one-off, or the beginning of a worrying trend. And Live Nation GSA managing director and chief operating officer Matt Schwarz discusses the company’s goals in the region and worldwide, as well as the wider music ecosystem in a keynote interview led by ILMC MD Greg Parmley.

In more festival-related content, former MTV news editor Steve Blame will interview Woodstock festival co-creator Joel Rosenman about the event’s inception and legacy, with new documentary Creating Woodstock aired later in the day.

‘Agents Agenda: The New Food Chain’ will see Jake Leighton-Pope of 10 Thousand Steps Management, Paradigm Agency’s Lily Oram, Toutpartout managing director Steven Thomassen and more discuss the effect of external investment on the industry, in a panel moderated by IQ’s Gordon Masson.

The festival season 2019 /2020 will see panellists asking whether 2019’s slow festival season was a one-off, or the beginning of a worrying trend

A secondary ticketing panel, also led by Masson, will examine the EU’s new legislation against ticket bots, asking how to grant consumers greater protection.

Talk will also turn to Brexit as tax advisor Kevin Offer discusses the potential impact of post-Brexit taxation, permits and customs clearance on the European live music industry.

EU funding will be the topic of conversation in ‘Europe Calling’, a panel featuring Olaf Furniss of Wide Days and Exit Festival managing director Ivan Milivojev, among others.

Members of German promoters’ association BDKV will gather for the yearly Live Entertainment Summit to present their report on the situation of the national and international live entertainment market.

Other topics of conversation include festival sponsorship, music export, country music, food at live events, the Caucasus music market, electronic music and digital media.

Foals, the Subways, Alfie Templeman, Hatari, Inhaler, Sorcha Richardson, Sports Team and Squid are among acts playing at Reeperbahn 2019.

A full Reeperbahn conference programme can be viewed here, with remaining tickets for the event available here.


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Good news for Keychange as EU pledges €1.4m

Gender balance initiative Keychange has received €1.4 million in funding from the European Union’s Creative Europe programme.

Launched in 2017 by music charity PRS Foundation, over 250 music organisations and festivals have signed up to the Keychange pledge to achieve gender-balanced line-ups by 2022.

With the new funding, the programme is ready to enter into its second phase, which will span from September 2019 to 2023.

Details of ‘Keychange 2.0’ will be presented at Reeperbahn festival by the event’s chief executive and Keychange co-founder Alexander Schultz, along with programme ambassadors Kate Nash and Barbara Gessler of the European Commission on Thursday 19 September.

Reeperbahn, which takes place form 18 to 21 September in Hamburg, Germany, will lead the next phase of Keychange, working closely with PRS Foundation, Sweden’s Musikcentrum Öst, Iceland Airwaves, Tallinn Music Week / Shiftworks in Estonia and BIME Festival in Spain.

“The transformative power of Keychange is visible and increasing”

New partners include Oslo World festival in Norway and the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM) in France.

Christina Schäfers, head of programming at Reeperbahn and project lead for Keychange, comments: “The transformative power of Keychange is visible and increasing. Within the next four years we will focus on concrete aims and measures to keep on creating a better, more inclusive music industry.

“Since culture has always been a source of inspiration for necessary change, we look forward to inspiring and be part of the future of our society.”

In November 2018, Keychange released its manifesto for change at the European Parliament in Brussels, with the aim of increasing the representation of marginalised genders in the music industry.

Primavera Sound and Iceland Airwaves are among the music festivals to have already fulfilled their Keychange pledge.


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