Popkomm Returns

Having tucked itself under the wing of Berlin Music Week, Popkomm returns to the conference calendar at the city’s Tempelhof Airport Sept. 8-10.

Last year’s event was scrapped because of lack of trade and delegate interest, which caused a furor in a German music industry forced to face the fact it couldn’t sustain an international conference platform.

At least that was the case until Hamburg Reeperbahn festival bolted on a three-day conference called Campus to try to plug the gap. Popkomm’s return means the two will go head-to-head to become the country’s major international music biz gathering.

Popkomm clearly held that position, particularly when it was held in Cologne, but its significance was on the wane long before the Reeperbahn event became the new kid on the block.

Its agenda appeared to hold more interest for record companies and publishers than for those on the live side of the business. As piracy and later the economic situation hit sales, the record companies drew in their horns and Popkomm’s target market dwindled.

Paul Cheetham from Germany’s Clockwork Management, who has taken over as manager of the Popkomm showcase festival, has a live music background that includes time with the UK’s now-defunct Mean Fiddler Organisation and Live Nation Finland.

He’s already said this year’s event has taken “a radical approach” to “break the perception of what Popkomm was in the past.” If it wants to be Germany’s No. 1 international conference, Cheetham knows Popkomm will need to capture the imagination of at least the European live music market.

Bolting it onto Berlin Music Week, which coincides with a Berlin Festival (Sept. 10-11) booked by Melt Festival chief Stefan Lehmkuhl, should help. Lehmkuhl’s lineup already includes Editors, Fatboy Slim, LCD Soundsystem, Blood Red Shoes, Hot Chip, Soulwax, Gang Of Four, Tricky and Edwyn Collins.

Tickets to the Berlin Festival include free admission to the first day of Popkomm.

In Hamburg Reeperbahn Campus appears to have no problem appealing to the live music sector, having been launched on the back of the festival that locally based promoters Karsten Jahnke and Inferno Events chief Alexander Schulz started in 2006.

This year the speakers it’s attracted from outside the live music sector include U.S. entrepreneur and Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein and BVMI chief exec Dieter Gorny.

At the moment both Popkomm and Reeperbahn are keeping quiet about how many tickets they’ve sold.
This year’s Reeperbahn Festival and Campus conference is Sept. 23-25.