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FKP Scorpio boss: ‘We partly play for an elite’

FKP Scorpio boss Folkert Koopmans discussed rising ticket prices, future acquisitions and competing with Live Nation in a keynote interview at the Reeperbahn Festival.

The European conference and showcase festival is taking place this week (20 and 23 September) across Hamburg, Germany.

The opening day of the event saw the FKP Boss sit down with MusikWoche journalist Manfred Tari in the Schmidt Theater, proclaiming “If you want to become an event organiser and expect a work-life balance, all I can say is: Don’t do it!”

On the subject of rising ticket prices, and the possibility that more and more fans will be priced out of concerts, Koopmans said: “Yes, we partly play for an elite who can afford such prices. The live business is not a social business. But as long as there are people who pay such high prices, the system will not change.”

Discussing market power and competition, Koopmans explained that although FKP cannot compete with Live Nation worldwide, they can in Europe, where the company is represented in eleven markets.

“As long as there are people who pay such high prices, the system will not change”

He also emphasised that he doesn’t work with companies but with people. “The music business is still a people’s business,” he said, revealing that a strong relationship with AEG Presents is how FKP has come to promote Taylor Swift’s German stadium concerts in 2024.

Koopmans also told delegates how investing in emerging talent has paid off for the company. “We don’t make any money at events in halls with a capacity of less than 1,000 people,” he said.

“For us, it’s more about building up artists with club gigs like this, who at some point might be able to fill stadiums like Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran has always remained loyal to FKP Scorpio and is also one of the artists who insist on a price cap for tickets.”

Rounding off the keynote, Koopmans told the audience that further acquisitions could be on the cards. “If the opportunity is right and I like the people we have there, we’ll take the opportunity,” he said, adding that his mantra for M&A is “no risk no fun”.

Reeperbahn organisers revealed that around 50,000 visitors and 4,000 delegates will have visited the four-day festival, by the time it closes tomorrow. While 475 concerts by 400 acts from 46 nations have taken place.

This year’s conference programme revolved around the theme of social sustainability, with discussions on monopolisation, AI, abuse of power and discrimination-free spaces, diversity, transformation processes, tomorrow’s perspectives, challenging a growth mentality and overcoming upheavals.


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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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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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Reeperbahn 2018 kicks off

Hamburg’s Reeperbahn festival and conference has kicked off, with over 4,000 music industry professionals expected to attend more than 300 sessions scheduled across the weekend.

2018’s conference programme spans multiple disciplines, genres and countries. A number of networking events, including sessions like Meet the Koreans and Meet the Nordics, aim to bridge the geographical gap in the music industry. Beyond this, the conference will look to the current state of the industry and what lies ahead.

Wednesday’s sessions included the reflective 30 Years of Independent Dance Music, delivered by Martin Heath and Renaat Vandepapeliere and Die Situation von Festivals In Deutschland chaired by journalist Ivana Draglia, analysing the German festival scene.

4,700 music industry professionals are expected to attend more than 300 sessions scheduled across the weekend.

On Thursday, Dr. Jörn Radloff of the ICE will question the possibility of a streamlined licensing scheme for the whole of Europe, whilst Matthias Röder of the Karajan Institute will ask how artificial intelligence will change the way we make and perform music in the future. Also billed for Thursday is IQ’s editor Gordon Masson, who will chair the Festival Season 2018/2019 session.

Friday will see ILMC’s managing director Greg Parmley chair the Agents Agenda 2018 session. Also taking place will be the Fight For Your Right to Party discussion session, which will look into the slow death of clubs and venues at the hands of rising rents, noise complaints and gentrification.

Closing the weekend, Jane Arnison will ask if female empowerment has become a marketing tool for the industry in The Problem with #femaleproducer and the Anchor 2018 winner will be crowned. In addition to the various sessions, panels and workshops, a number of showcases will take place throughout the weekend, with the best performing the Best of Showcases on the final day.

The Reeperbahn festival and conference runs from Wednesday 19 September through to Saturday 22 September and the full programme is available on the website.


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Record-breaking summer for European Talent Exchange Programme

The European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep), the Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS)-led initiative to promote the spread of music across Europe and the world, is celebrating its busiest season to date, with a total 457 shows played at festivals around the world.

Among the festivals that participated in this years exchange, Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, Brighton’s The Great Escape and Reykjavík’s Iceland Airwaves welcomed the most acts, with 31, 29 and 16 artists respectively. This year also saw the initiative expand further outside of Europe, with festivals including OppiKoppi in South Africa and Canadian Music Week participating in the exchange.

After being tipped to play the most shows of the season back in April, British indie band Superorganism finished the summer at the top of the rankings, playing 20 gigs in total. Their total breaks the previous record set last year by London-born post-punk band Shame.

“Even better support and opportunities” than before

Beyond the top slot, organisers are also celebrating getting more acts than ever booked for multiple festivals. Last year, 14 acts were booked by six shows or more; this year saw 22 acts booked for six or more, representing what the initiative names as “even better support and opportunities” than before.

Sinces its launch in 2003, Etep has helped make over 3,775 shows, by over 1,360 artists, in over 30 countries, possible. 2018 marks the third consecutive year where records have been broken, the first in 2016 and then again in 2017.

The top ten most-booked acts of this season’s exchange so far are listed below:

1. Superorganism (gb) – 20 shows
2. Zeal & Ardor (ch) – 13 shows
3. Yonaka (gb) – 10 shows
4. Sigrid (no) – 10 shows
5. Tamino (be) – 10 shows
6. Altin Gün (nl) – 9 shows
7. Tom Grennan (gb) – 8 shows
8. Tshegue (fr) -8 shows
9. George Fitzgerald (gb) – 8 shows
10. Lysistrata (fr) – 7 shows


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20% increase in delegates at 12th Reeperbahn Festival

The number of delegates at Reeperbahn Festival 2017 increased almost 20% year on year, from 3,700 to 4,400, organisers have announced, following another successful year for the German conference and showcase festival.

The total number of guests, both industry and consumer, topped 40,000 – a new record – with attendees from 57 nations making the pilgrimage to Hamburg on 20–23 September.

The music programme comprised more than 600 concerts by 420 artist/bands, including the German solo debut for former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and a show by ex-Gossip singer Beth Ditto.

“We have experienced a Reeperbahn Festival of the highest quality,” says Alexander Schulz, the event’s director and founder, “offering a programme of an unprecedented level in terms of concerts as well as film, art and the conference.

“We have experienced a Reeperbahn Festival of the highest quality”

“I do not only refer to the increased number of options for all sectors to do international business. We have also experienced the strongest Reeperbahn Festival in terms of social policy. The goal we set ourselves yesterday, to close the gender gap at our own event by 2022, is only one example.”

The focus country for Reeperbahn 2017 was Canada, with France set to follow in 2018. Marc Thonon, CEO of French Music Export, comments:  “In 2006, at the very first edition of Reeperbahn Festival, Le Bureau Export was one of the first export offices to partner with the event. Over the past 12 years, this partnership has made possible numerous showcases, networking events and conferences where the artistic variety of music made in France has had the chance to shine through.

“[Next year] will be the height of this longstanding cross-cultural collaboration with even more sessions, meetings and opportunities for French music industry professionals to share their work and experiences. The timing could not be better, as Le Bureau Export celebrates its 25th anniversary of helping French and international music professionals work together to promote artists ‘made in France’ around the world.”

Reeperbahn will return from 19 to 22 September 2018.


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Raise Your Voice: Pre-election Reeperbahn gets political

Reeperbahn Festival has finalised its festival and conference agendas for 2017, announcing the dates, times and venues for all events, as well as a special conference strand – Raise Your Voice – focusing on music and political engagement ahead of the German general election on 24 September.

“Pop is (and always has been) political,” reads a statement from the popular music industry event, which returns to Hamburg from 20 to 23 September. “Bands and artists have addressed important sociopolitical issues in their songs, and since the 1960s pop music has provided the soundtrack, as well as support, for major social transformations.

“Nevertheless, when those in the entertainment world – including musicians and businesses in the music industry – stand up for what they believe in, they are often subject to public criticism. Why that is, and what the music world can do to raise its voice and take a stand without coming across as inauthentic – this is something that will be explored in several panel discussions.”

Said panel discussions include Musik Bewegt – Wie geht Haltung?, in which artists Herbert Grönemeyer (pictured) Ingo Pohlmann and Fetsum will join representatives from Sea Watch, Doctors Without Borders and Viva con Agua to discuss the impact of social and political engagement; and Pop Goes Politics, with Fetsum (who came to Germany as a refugee), Büro für Offensivkultur founder Heinz Ratz and Global Citizen Festival Hamburg organiser Carolin Albrecht, which covers protest and political engagement in the pop world.

Music in the Middle East, meanwhile, will focus on the influence of music in a region afflicted by crises and war, with artists Shahin Najafi and Yasmine Hamdan and Cooking Vinyl/Palestine Music Expo founder Martin Goldschmidt.

All festival and conference events can be found on the Reeperbahn Festival website or the iOS and Android apps.


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€8.2m for music in Germany

The German government has approved €8.2 million in new funding for pop, rock and jazz music.

The figure – part of the €660m recently earmarked for cultural projects from 2017 – will be divided among Initiative Musik, the Live Musik Kommission (LiveKomm), the German Rock Music Association (Deutsche Rockmusik Stiftung), Musicboard Berlin and showcase festivals Reeperbahn, Pop-Kultur, c/o pop and jazzahead!, all of which will see an increase in funding, with export office Initiative Musik’s budget nearly doubled.

LiveKomm chairman Karsten Schölermann says his organisation’s share of the money will go partially towards its programme of modernising, or ‘digitising’, the audio, lighting and production equipment in smaller venues across Germany. He comments: “We can now continue to provide a better and more effective approach for performers of contemporary music.”

“The strengthening of culture is, above all, an investment in the future of our country”

Rüdiger Kruse (pictured), a culture spokesman for the German parliament (Bundestag)’s budget committee, says the decision demonstrates the government’s “high regard for culture in Germany”.

“In addition to the preservation of [our] cultural treasures, the strengthening of culture is above all an investment in the future of our country,” he comments. “We can see what happens when cultural education is neglected and art is given too little space in our society. We have to counter this in Germany.”

Holger Maack, of the Deutsche Rockmusik Stiftung, adds he is “delighted that [the association], with federal subsidies, will be able to create new rehearsal studios throughout Germany and counter the ever-increasing lack of practice space.”


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