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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

Venue leaders optimistic for 2020 reopening

Venue professionals expressed confidence that doors will reopen before the end of the year, but shared doubts as to whether social distancing is the answer, in the latest IQ Focus panel.

Available to watch back now on the IQ website, as well as on Facebook and Youtube, the session saw John Langford (AEG Europe), Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event) reflect on when they will return to business and the tactics that venues will use to ensure the show goes on.

All panellists were optimistic that some shows will return before the end of 2020, although next year will see the true restart of indoor live events, with many speaking of “packed 2021 calendars”.

For Toth, CEO of the 6,500-capacity Rockhal in Luxembourg, smaller capacity shows with strict social distancing measures will be the most likely to restart before the new year. Rockhal’s intimate club venue, which typically has a capacity of 1,100, can hold 90 people with two metre distancing measures in place, but “we can increase capacity as we go”, said Toth.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021,” said Toth.

Rockhal is one of a number of venues in Luxembourg acting as a temporary medical facility.

For GOT Event, which operates nine venues in Sweden, sports fixtures are the most likely to return in 2020, with all matches played behind closed doors. “For music and other shows, I think it’ll be next year,” said Nibell.

Even though Sweden has not entered a full lockdown unlike many of its European counterparts, a ban on shows over 50 people has left the Swedish live industry in much the same position as elsewhere.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021”

ASM Global has already seen some success with the return of sporting events, hosting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events behind closed doors at venues in the United States.

Lynch said ASM Global’s VenueShield, a post-coronavirus reopening programme, has played a big part in allowing the sports powerhouse to get back up and running. “Next I’d like to see how, or if, we can introduce fans with social distancing and in a safe and clean environment.”

Social distancing has been a “hot topic” of late for the events industry, said Langford, asking Wizard Promotions’ Hoppe if it is a viable solution for event organisers.

While it may work for some kinds of shows and events, “I don’t think social distancing will be a part of what we will be looking at,” said Hoppe.  Drive-in concerts offer an example of social distancing success, added Hoppe, but “are horrible for an artist in my opinion”.

Noble, artistic and commercial director at London’s (5,272-cap.) Royal Albert Hall and chair of the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA), agreed that social distancing is not part of the plan for reopening as “it just doesn’t work financially”.

“We do know we can run our venues in world class ways to facilitate shows going on, be it by contact tracing, temperature checks, questionnaires, disinfectant mists etc.”

Noble noted the lack of clarity given to the live industry by the UK government, which is yet to give a date for when events of any size will be permitted again. “If they don’t give us clarity, then we need to give them clarity,” said Noble. “We are suggesting to them how we can operate.”

“I am really positive about the future of live events, but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, if it recurs”

The EAA has also taken up a lobbying position, working with the European Commission to develop a reopening plan for the live industry.

“We’ll be facing very different requirements and expectations from our customers,” said Toth. “Scenarios will be very different, from artist hospitality to audience experience, not even mentioning social distancing, so the ambition was to put major concerns out there and open up the discussion.”

Consumer demand has been another worry for the live industry, with surveys indicating a potential cautiousness on behalf of some about returning to public events. However, Toth pointed out that the majority of fans are holding on to tickets for postponed events, indicating that “people are looking forward to coming back”.

Noble said that the Royal Albert Hall is expecting confidence will take a while to return and is modelling accordingly.

“We certainly won’t be selling to full houses when we reopen,” said Noble. The venue is adjusting its programming to focus on shows that attract younger audiences first, the demographic most likely to make a quick return to events.

“I am really positive about the future of live events,” said Noble, “but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, and for if it recurs.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Innovation Session, is taking place on Thursday 28 May at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, chaired by Mike Malak (Paradigm), and featuring speakers Sheri Bryant (Sansar), Tommas Arnby (Locomotion Ent.), Amy Oldham (Dice), Ben Samuels (MelodyVR) and Prajit Gopal (Looped).

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.

 


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Venues in the spotlight for next IQ Focus panel

Following on from last week’s popular Festival Forum session, this week’s IQ Focus virtual panel will turn the attention to venues, discussing how the world’s many shuttered music venues can weather the Covid-19 storm, and emerge from life under lockdown.

Chaired by John Langford (AEG Europe), The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, will feature speakers Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).

The touring world has changed dramatically since venue professionals came together for the Venue Summit at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March, as doors have been shuttered, countless concerts cancelled and many venues repurposed to help in the fight against the disease.

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far.

Looking to the future, the venue experts will also reflect on what the recovery process may look like and what will need to be done to keeps fans, staff and artists safe and get business back up and running in the crucial months ahead.

The session is taking place on Thursday 21 May at 3.30 (BST)/4.30 (CET). Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.


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‘The potential is immense’: DEAG buys into esports firm

Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) has become the latest major live music player to invest in the fast-growing esports sector, acquiring a minority stake in Ally4ever Entertainment, a specialist gaming events agency.

The investment, through DEAG subsidiaries Wizard Promotions and Handwerker Promotion, sees Deutsche Entertainment and Ally4ever partner to create a new esports stadium event in Germany. DEAG has the option to increase its minority stake in Verl-based Allyever by 2022.

The format of DEAG’s new event is “unique due to its concept”, says the company, combining a three-day event programme – viewable on television or online, as well as at the venue – with “extensive side attractions” for attendees and appearances by international music, film and sports stars, celebrities and influencers.

Players, meanwhile, will compete for a total prize pool of €3.5 million.

“The potential of the esports segment is immense,” says DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow. “For our company, this offers the opportunity of sustainable expansion into a new, fast-growing live entertainment segment with a young target audience.

“Our esports events are intended to represent the next generation of live entertainment in Europe”

“The objective for DEAG is to gain a knowledge and experience advantage with experienced partners for further growth opportunities in this rapidly growing entertainment format.

Other concert businesses which have an interest in the esports, or competitive videogaming, sports include AEG, Madison Square Garden Company, TEG and Vivendi.

Fred Handwerker, managing director of Handwerker Promotion, comments: “This new partnership sets standards in a still very young and rapidly developing live event sector. We are all the more pleased to be part of this trend-setting event.”

“Our esports events are intended to represent the next generation of live entertainment in Europe,” adds Oliver Hoppe, MD of Wizard Promotions, “and we are delighted to be part of this visionary project.”

DEAG promotes around 4,000 concerts and events, selling more than five million tickets, annually. The Berlin-based company reported 25% organic growth in the first quarter of 2019, with revenue climbing to €25.5m.

 


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Theatre producer Mehr-BB wins big at PRG LEA 2019

The 14th edition of the German Live Entertainment Awards (LEA) took place at the Frankfurt Festhalle last night (1 April), with theatrical producer Mehr-BB picking two awards for best show and best concert hall or arena.

Awards were presented across 15 categories to concert and show organisers, managers, agents and venue operators from German-speaking countries.

“The LEA is a red carpet event in our city,” says Frankfurt city councillor Markus Frank. “It is an honour for us to celebrate the top-class LEA gala in our traditional festival hall.”

The ceremony was presented for the eighth time by broadcast journalist Ingo Nommsen, with performances from Kiefer Sutherland, Stefanie Heinzmann, Mike Singer and electronic swing jazz band DelDap.

The ensemble of hit musical Starlight Express also performed on the night. Mehr-BB Entertainment received the award for show of the year for the musical, which has run for 30 consecutive years in the Starlight Express Theatre in Bochum.

Neue Deutsche Welle singer Nena closed the ceremony, who won Wizard Promotions the concert hall tour of the year award with her Nothing Missed tour.

“Live entertainment is now the leading entertainment market [in Germany] and the most highly consumed cultural product”

“In Germany, around five billion euros are spent each year on attending music events and other live entertainment,” reports Professor Jens Michow, president of the Federal Association of the Concerts and Events Industry (BDKV) and producer of the awards ceremony.

“With those figures, live entertainment is now the leading entertainment market and the most highly consumed cultural product [in the country],” adds Michow.

Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio picked up the biggest touring category award, winning the prize for the best stadium tour of the year for Ed Sheeran’s ÷ tour and Semmel concerts earned the arena tour of the year award for the Kelly Family We Got Love tour.

Wacken Open Air founders Thomas Jensen and Holger Hübner won the lifetime achievement award for their work developing the largest heavy-metal festival in the world, receiving the award from German rock band Scorpions and comedian Matze Knop.

Jazzopen organiser Opus, along with MCT Agency and the European Astronaut Centre, won the award for concert of the year. The trio had collaborated on a special Kraftwerk concert in Stuttgart which saw astronaut Alexander Gerst broadcast live from space.

Live Nation won promoter of the year, whereas the homegrown promoter prize went to Vaddi Concerts.

A full list of winners can be found below and a round-up of nominees is available here.

Stadium tour of the year
Ed Sheeran ÷ tour (FKP Scorpio)

Arena tour of the year
The Kelly Family, We Got Love tour (Semmel Concerts)

Concert hall tour of the year
Nena, Nothing Missed tour (Wizard Promotions)

Club tour of the year
Bosse, Everything is now tour (Undercover)

Festival of the year
Nature One, Pydna

Concert of the year
Kraftwerk + Special Guest Dr Alexander Gerst, Stuttgart (Opus Festival, MCT Agentur GmbH and EAC Köln)

Show of the year
30 Years Starlight Express, Bochum (Mehr-BB Entertainment)

Promoter of the year
Live Nation

Local promoter of the year
Vaddi Concerts

Concert hall/ arena of the year
Mehr Theater, Hamburg (Mehr-BB Entertainment)

Artist development of the year
Timo Birth

Manager/ agent of the year
Johannes Jakob Hofmann, Jay Music and Selective Artists

Jury prize
Jamel rockt den Förster (Grünes Forum Selbstverwaltung Förderverein)

Lifetime achievement award
Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen

Collaboration of the year
Aida-Schiffstaufe with David Guetta (Hannover Concerts, KG Betriebsgesellschaft, Aida Cruises, Four Artists Booking and Meyer Werft)

 


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Nominees announced for Germany’s PRG LEA 2019

The 14th PRG Live Entertainment Awards (LEA) take place on 1 April in Frankfurt, recognising the best in the German live music industry across 15 categories.

The annual awards celebrate concert and show organisers, managers, agents and theatre operators in German-speaking countries.

Around 1,400 guests are expected to attend the awards ceremony in Frankfurt’s Festhalle. Performances on the night will come from pop and soul singer Stefanie Heinzmann, Neue Deutsche Welle (German new wave) singer Nena, actor Kiefer Sutherland and singer-songwriter Mike Singer.

“It is a huge honour for me to be able to perform and present a prize at such an important awards show,” says Singer. “The LEA is something very close to my heart because it honours some very fundamental areas of our everyday musical lives.”

In the stadium tour of the year category, Wizard Promotions are up for Iron Maiden’s Legacy of the Beast tour, whereas Ed Sheeran’s ÷ concert tour has earned last year’s promoter of the year winner FKP Scorpio a nomination. Kikis Kleiner Tourneeservice (KKT) agency is the final nominee, for the Laune der Natour tour by Düsseldorf punk-rock group Die Toten Hosen.

Concert tours by German acts dominate the field of nominees in the arena tour of the year category. Four Artists Booking, Roland Temme, DEAG Concerts and Dirk Becker Entertainment in collaboration with Abenteuerland Music Management are included in the jury’s selection.

“The LEA is something very close to my heart because it honours some very fundamental areas of our everyday musical lives”

Semmel Concerts, winner of both concert hall tour and the jury prize in 2017, is also nominated for bringing the Kelly Family’s We Got Love Tour back to big venues.

Among the concert of the year nominees is FKP Scorpio for Burt Bacharach’s first-ever German concert. Opus, MCT and the European Astronaut Centre are nominated collectively for the Kraftwerk concert at Jazzopen in Stuttgart, which featured a broadcast from astronaut Alexander Gerst in outer space.

FKP Scorpio, DEAG Concerts and Wizard Promotions are also among the nominees for indoor tour of the year. Elsewhere, Airbeat One, Parookaville and Nature one are all up for festival of the year award, with a thematic focus on EDM.

No nominations are made for the organiser of the year, artist/newcomer of the year or artist manager/ agent of the year categories, or for the jury and lifetime achievement awards.

The main partners of the LEA are event technology supplier Production Resource Group (PRG), Prolight and Sound, Musikmesse Frankfurt, ticket distributor CTS Eventim and the city of Frankfurt am Main.

 


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