Musikmetropole Hamburg

The city of Hamburg is making it clear it’s more than just a substitute that can be pulled off the bench when Popkomm isn’t happening. The city is staking its own claim to stage Germany’s major music gathering.

The city’s Reeperbahn Festival and Campus conference, which was started last year after Popkomm canceled, will go head-to-head with the Berlin event in September.

The Reeperbahn events will be staged Sept. 23-25, two weeks after Popkomm, which has now been rolled up into Berlin Music Week (Sept. 6-12).

The sabre-rattling has begun as the northern city – under a “Musikmetropole Hamburg” banner – has set out its credentials to be Germany’s music capital.

The latest newsletter from “the music city of Hamburg” listed its credentials as the completion of the new 2,200-capacity Elbphilharmonie concert hall, its links with composer and the next staging of his “Der Ring des Nibelungen” at the state opera house, and the fact it was where The Beatles spent months honing their skills.

Detlef Schwarte from Inferno Events, one of the organisers of the Reeperbahn festival and conference, has taken to referring to that area of the city – probably the world’s most famous red light district – as “Germany’s most creative quarter.” The city is also home to the German Live Entertainment Awards.

The Reeperbahn event also has the backing of Hamburg Marketing, the state-funded organisation that promotes the city, which three years ago dropped euro 1 million (then US$ 1.47 million) helping fund the German leg of Live Earth and considered it to be “money well spent”.

This time the test is to develop an annual music business gathering that’s judged to be the country’s best, according to the number of international visitors it can attract.

In Berlin, where Popkomm now looks more like part of the city’s annual music week than a stand-alone event, there seems to be a renewed determination that the national capital will also win the inter-city scrap to be its music capital.

Popkomm founder Dieter Gorny now heads the Bundesverband Musikindustrie – the German equivalent of the BPI – and the organisation looks to have shifted behind Berlin Music Week.

Last year Gorny said the people in charge of Popkomm didn’t have the right plan to create “an international event relevant to the market.” Presumably he feels Berlin Music Week will fit the bill.

There have certainly been efforts to beef up the entertainment package as the booking of Berlin Festival, also part of Music Week, is now in the hands of Melt Festival chief Stefan Lehmkuhl.

It’s the second year that Lehmkuhl has booked the bill and he’ll be looking for attendance to rise again.In his first year of staging the event at Tempelhof Airport he upped the festival’s average daily crowd from 5,000 to a little more than 8,000.

Recent Popkomm lineups have held few attractions for international delegates, so much so that the booking team for 2009 was axed even before the event itself was canceled.

The event recently appointed Paul Cheetham from Berlin and Helsinki-based Clockwork Management, who has experience of working for the old Mean Fiddler Music Group in the UK and Live Nation in Finland, to curate the live entertainment.

Jesse from Finland and Norway’s The Megaphonic Thrift have already been named to play Berlin Festival and Popkomm, although the deadline for acts wanting to be on the latter bill has been extended to May 14.

Berlin Festival has named about a third of the 70 or so acts it’ll have on the bill, a list that includes Tricky, LCD Soundsystem, Wedding Present, Editors, Blood Red Shoes, Junip!, Fever Ray, Caribou, and Seabear.

Reeperbahn, which Inferno books in cahoots with Hamburg promoters Folkert Koopmans and Karsten Jahnke, has so far confirmed Schlachthofbronx, Captain Planet, Fehlfarben, Superpunk, Babylon Circus, Curry & Coco, Heroes & Zeros, and Marit Larsen, among others.