Talk Isn’t Cheap

The opening of Popkomm will give the first clue as to how well the German conference season is standing up to hard times and how many delegates are still prepared to fork out for such networking opportunities.

The Berlin event comes a couple of weeks before Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival (Sept. 22-24), now in its seventh year, which means the two gatherings compete for national and international delegates.

Detlef Schwarte from Inferno Events, which organises Reeperbahn, is quietly confident that ticket sales may go up.

“I imagine it is getting more difficult for national and international delegates to find the money to attend both events but we can only plan something that we think best suits the industry,” he said.

Last year’s Reeperbahn Festival attracted about 1,200 paying delegates and 350 media people. Schwarte says current ticket sales suggest the number of paying delegates will increase and the number of journalists will need to be capped.

One of the most intriguing sessions on the conference agenda appears to be from Professor Stefan Koelsch from Berlin University, who will give his take on “How the brain deals with music.”

He will tell delegates about the correlation between the perceived value of musical content resulting from emotional reactions and the decision for or against making a purchase.

Of a less cerebral nature, Greener Festivals and Yourope’s Health & Safety Group will examine how the event management industry will arm itself against risks like extreme weather, particularly in view of the recent stage collapses at Indiana State Fair in the U.S. and Belgium’s Pukkelpop Festival.

Belgian songstress Selah Sue, the UK’s Friendly Fires, Danish garage-rock duo The Raveonettes, and Dutch pop-rockers Go Back To The Zoo are among the better known of the 200 or so acts playing the evening showcases along and around the city’s Spielbundenplatz.

Popkomm is shy about giving out delegate numbers but eyewitness reports suggest that steadily falling attendance is now hitting what’s traditionally been its core support.

Michael Bisping from Hamburg-based ASS concerts, who spent five years on Popkomm’s advisory board, will be missing this year’s gathering.

“Last year I was disappointed,” he told Pollstar. “It’s only a small percentage of what it was before.”

He said he used to be able to visit Berlin for three days and would have as many as 40 people calling him to arrange business meetings. Now, he says he’d be lucky to get four calls.

The keynote will include contributions from Swedish export minister Ewa Björling, Hans-Joachim Otto from Germany’s economic ministry, former Berlin Mayor Harald Wolf, and Messe Berlin chief exec Raimund Hosch.

Since moving to Berlin’s old Tempelhof Airport, Popkomm has run in parallel with Berlin Music Week (Sept. 7-11) and Berlin Festival.

This year’s Berlin Festival (Sept. 9-10), the first since the UK’s Festival Republic bought a 51 percent share of the event in April, has Suede, Primal Scream, James Blake, Mogwai, Deus, Hercules & Love Affair, Public Enemy, and The Bloody Beetroots.