Popkomm Makes Move

Falling delegate numbers look to have persuaded Popkomm to move its conference and trade fair out of Messe Berlin and nearer to its festival venue in the city centre.

Popkomm press officer Susanne Tschenisch said the annual gathering has obviously been hit by the shrinking of the recorded music business, but reports suggest its efforts to pay more attention to the live side haven’t had much effect.

Tschenisch confirmed the organisation is looking for a more central venue for the conference and trade fair, but said she wasn’t able to give more detail until all the options have been considered. She says it’s unlikely there will be any announcements until the middle of January.

The event’s wooing of the live music industry became more ardent in 2005, the year after it moved from Cologne to Berlin, with Popkomm director Katja Bittner announcing “live music is booming,” as it shifted its agenda further towards the concert business.

One of the main panels was “The Increasing Popularity Of Concerts As A Complete Musical Experience.”

By 2007, Popkomm ramped up its efforts to attract more live music people by opening a day earlier to accommodate a new one-day conference on the subject.

“There is no substitute for live music. And Popkomm provides a real live music experience,” Bittner said, as London-based agent Carl-Leighton-Pope – who does the ILMC’s best-attended session – was invited along to make the keynote speech.

This year, 14,000 paid to go to the trade fare – about 1,000 less than last year –
which also entitles them to go to the conference, but reports suggest the number of live music people attending the latter has fallen sharply.

Although the conference still has a strong live music business focus, and the three-day festival showcased more 400 acts, only 150 seats were laid out for each conference panel and many of them weren’t filled.

Although Tschenisch said the decrease in the number of visitors is commensurate with the downsizing of a recorded music business that has seen EMI alone shed hundreds of jobs in a year, she declined to comment on the number of people attending the conference or how many of them come from the live sector.

Popkomm managing director Dr. Ralf Kleinhenz wasn’t available for comment at press time, but reports from Germany suggest that the plan is to find a conference venue that’s much nearer to the Berliner Kultubrauerei, where the showcase gigs take place.

It’s a 30-minute drive from the Popkomm conference to the concert venue, which means the event is much less compact than Eurosonic-Noorderslag in Groningen, Holland, where it’s only a 10-minute walk between the two.

Whichever venue is chosen for Popkomm 2009, it’s expected Messe Berlin – which has experience of running events outside of its own site, including the city’s Love Parade – will continue to have a big hand in organising it.