Marek Lieberberg Has Left The Building

German promoter Marek Lieberberg almost stole the German Live Entertainment Awards’ show by storming out of it, apparently unhappy because his company was beaten in a category that he thought it should have won.

Within days of the February 16th ceremony at Hamburg Fliegende Bauten, the incident escalated as Lieberberg released a statement saying the LEA jury was wrong to give the best festival award to the 10-year-old Sonne Mond Sterne electro fest. He said he felt it was a personal affront that it hadn’t gone to his Rock Am Ring.

The statement said the awards are "Selbstbedienungspreis" (self-serving) and were being shared around among a clique, and that his company wouldn’t be accepting the best promoter prize that it did win.

Jens Michow, president of the IDKV promoters association and responsible for the organization of the awards, then put out his own statement that was similar to one he’d issued to Pollstar the day after the ceremony.

The statement to Pollstar said: "Mr. Lieberberg is certainly one of the most successful German, and probably one of the most successful tour promoters in the world.

"His Rock Am Ring has written rock history and developed since 1985 to be undoubtedly Germany’s biggest festival.

"I therefore perfectly understand Mr. Lieberberg’s disappointment about not winning the ‘Best Festival’ category at this year’s LEA awards," the statement said. "However, the awards are granted strictly by the decision of the LEA jury, which is nine much-valued music business journalists. Their final decision is inevitably a subjective one. The particular decision makes it evident, that the LEA jury doesn’t get influenced either by the interest of associations or by anybody else.

"The awards want to show the full range of events and business skills of all branches of the German industry. Wouldn’t it be boring, if every year the same promoters would win in the same categories?

"I’m totally convinced that if we want to consolidate the prestige and credibility of the LEA awards, then we must resist every attempt to influence the autonomy of the jury, even if sometimes their votes may not be comprehensible to everyone.

"However, as you know, the LEA jury decided to grant Mr. Lieberberg the award for the Best Promoter 2006, which also covers his success as a festival promoter. Unfortunately, he’d already left the venue when this award was presented."

Lieberberg was quick to respond with a second statement that said Michael Russ, president of the VDKV promoters’ organization (which is also a shareholder in the LEA organization), and that some of the other German promoters present – including Marcel Avram, Ossy Hoppe and Mario Mendrzycki – were among those who agreed that the jury had it wrong.

The row had sparked off within seconds of the announcement that Sonne Mond Sterne had won the best festival category, beating Contour Music’s Summer Jam, Melt Festival and Rock Am Ring, which prompted Lieberberg to get up from his table and walk out with some of his staffers trailing in his wake.

Ten minutes later, another table of Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur people including Joe Rambock and Thorsten Schauf got a mobile call. They also upped sticks and left, which meant there was no one to collect the award for best promoter that Lieberberg won about half an hour later.

Michow said he’d be happier if Lieberberg had suggested constructive changes to the way the awards are judged and categorized, rather than just criticize in "a negative and destructive" way.

"The LEAs are like a young plant that has just started to grow, and I’m sure neither the jury nor the organisers ever intended to offend him," Michow explained.

However much of a talking point the incident became among the 560 or so music business people present on the night, it got short shrift from the German national papers. Most took only a sentence to say that the MLK chief had left because he wasn’t happy with a result.

Meanwhile, back at the ceremony, nobody complained when the lifetime achievement award went to veteran German promoter-turned-author Fritz Rau, who has spent years at the top of his profession and is now documenting it in such books as "50 Years Backstage."

Folkert Koopmans’ locally based FKP Scorpio was the only dual winner of the night, collecting "best club tour" for Revolverhead – in cooperation with Extratours – and the award for best musical with "Die 13 ½ Leben des Käpt’n Blaubär" – or "The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear."

"Best arena tour" went to Peter Rieger Konzertagentur for his George Michael shows, while the best venue was judged to be Munich Olympiapark.

DEAG’s Peter Schwenkow took "best show" with the classical extravaganza the company put on at Berlin Waldbühne, starring Anna Netrebko, Placido Domingo and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon.

Best manager went to Freddy Burger for his work with national superstar Udo Jürgens.

Despite the hoo-ha, the event was well attended. Karsten Jahnke, Dieter Semmelmann, Klaus Maack, Dirk Hohmeyer, Henning Toegel, and Harry Jenner from the Vienna-based Musicnet were among the 150 or so other promoters that turned up to support it.