Hamburg Eases Ahead

More than 900 delegates attended the Reeperbahn Festival and Campus conference in Hamburg Sept. 23-25, solidifying its position as a top destination for industry types.

A couple of weeks earlier, Popkomm returned to the conference circuit after canceling 2009 because of lack of interest. It hasn’t revealed how many delegates paid to visit its new venue at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.

Detlef Schwarte from Inferno Events, one of the organisers of the Hamburg event, said that, in only its second year, Reeperbahn has gone “from being a conference to an international business platform.” The total attendance including panelists and media people from the U.S. and all over Europe was 1,400.

Even before the results were known, the competition between Hamburg and Berlin started to look something of a phoney war when German culture minister Bernd Neumann opened Reeperbahn by saying it’s already “made a regional and international impact on the world of music.”

Getting regional and federal backing is crucial to creating an international music business platform in Germany. Neumann evidently understands the importance of such a platform as he pointed out the business produces revenues of about euro 15 billion ($20.2 billion), an amount he described as “not exactly peanuts.”

The regional and federal support comes on the back of the city’s efforts to re-invent the world-famous red light district as “Germany’s most creative quarter,” topping off an urban regeneration programme that’s transforming the St. Pauli dockside area.

The 5-year-old Reeperbahn Festival showed it’s building its own pulling power as the three days of showcase gigs staged across more than a dozen venues in the St. Pauli district – including a lap-dancing bar and a church – attracted 17,000. That equals last year’s record-breaking figures.

Alexander Schultz of Inferno, which booked the 190-act bill along with fellow Hamburg-based promoters Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion and FKP Scorpio, said this year it did it without any headline acts. He said the festival has further positioned itself as an event where people can discover quality talent.

The lesser-known acts hoping their quality will turn them into headliners included Marina & The Diamonds, ETEP winner FM Belfast, Blood Red Shoes, Cosmo Jarvis, Band Of Skulls, The Black Box Revelation, Johnossi, Edwyn Collins, Deer Tick, Stornoway, and The Megaphonic Thrift.

A subject that came up in a couple of panels was how the tragedy that killed 21 people at Love Parade in Duisburg July 24 is likely to impact on the outdoor market, although the general state of health of the European festival business also created a lot of discussion.