The Reeperbahn Festival

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An article from Horus Music’s Business Development Manager, Nina Condron.

A few months ago I attended the annual Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg Germany. The Reeperbahn Festival is held along the Reeperbahn strip. This is one long road made up of live music venues, clubs, bars, sex shops and strip joints.

It fits in perfectly with the stereotypical – and not necessarily true – view that the music industry revolves around sex drugs and rock and roll. I attended Reeperbahn with The BPI, MPA and the UKTI. All of these companies do a great job, putting on missions around the world, and supporting and promoting British music.

I have to confess that before attending the Reeperbahn Festival, Germany was a territory that I knew very little about. The British delegates on the mission arrived at the event a couple of days before the festival began. The Trade Mission organisers had arranged seminars from some of the big players in the German music industry for us. They spoke openly about the differences between the UK and German territories. There were lots of different speakers who took part from companies including: sync agents, booking agents, managers, and music publishers.

What Happened at Reeperbahn Festival?

We had talks from GVL (German collection agency similar to PRS for Music) and from companies such as: Island Records, Warner Chapel and White Horse Publishing. These talks were really insightful and invaluable to learn about the German music market.

I attended to understand the market better, discover what opportunities there are for our artists and to approach new stores. The festival is a great opportunity to network and find out about different business models and how they help artists.

The main things that I took away from the mission were the differences between our different territories. Germany is primarily a physical market with digital accounting for only 30% of revenue. Streaming is only just starting to take off, with Spotify being the main player in the market.

By comparison, in the UK the music market is 56% digital with streaming being a dominant force and 44% physical. Within Germany, the main genres are indie/rock and dance. Different parts of Germany even have different music scenes. For example in Berlin, where Beatport is based, there is a large dance community as opposed to Hamburg which is more rock orientated. Beatport who we distribute to are one of the biggest dance stores in the world.

Throughout the Reeperbahn Festival there was much debate about the music industry. The majority of these panels were filmed and are available to view over at the Reeperbahn festival website.

Reeperbahn Festival was fantastic with cracking bands playing such as ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’ ‘Skinny Lister’ and ‘Public Service Broadcasting’. I saw great emerging acts such as ‘Boreal Sons’ and ‘Chic Gamine’ from Canada and ‘The Kings Parade’ from the UK.

Highlights for me were the GGM invite only event from ‘Golden Gate Management’. They hosted a networking event which involved free beer, DJ’s and a boat that went around the Hamburg Harbour. The best part was that despite the fact that alcohol and open water sounds like an accident waiting to happen nobody fell in, not even me!

More seriously though there were some great people on board the boat, the sun was shining, the water was blue, the DJ was great and I had some really interesting conversations about the music industry and where it’s heading.

Breaking into Germany

I would advise any young band that is looking to try and break into the German market to seriously consider trying to get involved with the Reeperbahn Festival. There are so many great venues and it is world-renowned due to the fact that ‘The Beatles’ played there before they were hugely popular. John Lennon has famously been quoted as saying ‘I may have been born in Liverpool but I grew up in Hamburg.’ If it’s good enough for the Beatles it’s good enough for me.