Q’s With Detlef Schwarte And Alexander Schulz Of Reeperbahn Festival

Reeperbahn Festival 2018
Rieka Anscheit
– Reeperbahn Festival 2018
We spoke with director Detlef Schwarte and general manager Alexander Schulz

Reeperbahn Festival is celebrating its 13th edition in Hamburg, Germany, this year. We spoke with two men in charge of the event, about what it takes to become the most important market-place for live entertainment in Europe.
Where do you see Reeperbahn Festival positioned at the moment as far as international talent festivals are concerned, and where would you like to take it going forward?
Detlef Schwarte: Reeperbahn Festival is the only music industry event in Europe that serves as a serious meeting point for all parts of the music economy: recorded music, live entertainment and the mainly rights related segment. Regarding the pure numbers – public audience, trade visitors and variety and extend of the programme – the event is as far as we know currently the largest of its kind in Europe and, of course, we would like to keep this position in the future.
Alexander Schulz: Coming from this status and knowing, that Reeperbahn Festival’s organization has the international network, it could be an option to set up more spin-offs for small and mid-sized music business from Europe under our well-recommended brand. 
What does the German government’s recent financial commitment ($32 million for five years) to Reeperbahn Festival mean for the event?
Alex Schulz: With the additional funding for our event from 2019 the federal government makes a general statement for the importance of the music(-business) in comparison to literature and film. For the first time ever, it is supporting an internationally well recognized event for the music-business, after supporting the Frankfurt book fair or the Berlinale before. 
It will give Reeperbahn Festival the chance to promote relevant additional measures and topics, or to initiate them for the first time, amongst others the international campaign “Keychange“ for gender diversity in music economy, commissioned productions and premieres to German artists or collectives for genre-spanning productions, formats that bring the music industry closer to neighbouring and economically relevant markets, or International spin-offs of Reeperbahn Festival that support firstly small and medium-sized music companies seeking entry into international markets.
Would you like to grow the event in Hamburg? Has it reached maximum capacity? How many people do you expect in 2018, and what’s new at the 2018 edition?
Alex Schulz: It is not first and foremost about growth in figures, but about increasing quality of the services we provide to our guests and the program that we present. So there is still space for more people and more program, but whether we will use this potential depends on content decisions.
In 2018 we expect 42,000 visitors including nearly 5,000 professionals from 50 nations. That is a moderate growth of five to 10 percent that corresponds with the growth of previous years.
Detlef Schwarte: What’s new is that we will have three conference rooms in the East Hotel that will become a sort of second conference hub besides the official Festival Hotel Arcotel Onyx where delegates still will find a good spot to meet, but also have the opportunity to visit a tech exhibition that will give an idea how rights can be managed in the future.
And I’d like to mention a new show that we will realize in cooperation with our colleagues of Eurosonic Noorderslag and supported by the European Commission: That will be a highly entertaining format that celebrates new European music and is the prelude for the new Music Moves Europe Talent Award that will be awarded in January in Groningen.
How do you evaluate the New York editions of Reeperbahn Festival? Did they yield new business opportunities for both professionals and artists?
Alex Schulz: According to the evaluations of the companies from Germany and Europe, who are attending the New York editions of Reeperbahn Festival, especially the fact that we are connected with the A2IM Indie Week and guarantee access to the matchmakings makes a lot of sense to them. Only a few of these small and mid-sized companies that are seeking entry into the U.S. recorded market would in addition also present an artist within the Reeperbahn Festival showcase in New York, which is open for professionals and the public as well. Those who do, report that the fact that all Reeperbahn activities in NYC, especially the showcases, are covered by U.S. media partners, added a sustainable aspect to an artist presentation. 

Liam Gallagher at Reeperbahn Festival 2017
Lisa Meinen
– Liam Gallagher at Reeperbahn Festival 2017
The event may be showcasing some 400 new acts each year, but that doesn’t mean the veterans of the game don’t like to show up

Why should the U.S. industry come to Hamburg in September?

Alex Schulz: As Reeperbahn Festival is the biggest market-place for recorded music, live entertainment and publishing in continental Europe and for music-businesses especially from this territory and not only for the German industry, visiting the event could be very effective for companies from the U.S., who are seeking business-partners, especially in Europe. 
Whereas buyers who are looking out for talent from Germany in particular, may also have the chance to apply for travel-subsidies by taking part in our program “Wunderkinder,” that is presenting export-ready acts to talent-buyers from outside territories. 
Detlef Schwarte: I’d like to take the opportunity to mention a few highlights a trade visitor should not miss: There’s firstly the opening event on Wednesday evening in Schmidt’s Tivoli that will be bigger and more glamorous than in the past years, including live performances of e.g. Jungle. The opening will on the one hand introduce this year’s focus country France and on the other hand the eight nominees and the judges of our international talent contest ‘Anchor’ to the audience. This year’s jury that is judging the eight talents’ live performances consists of: Tony Visconti (producer), Linda  Perry (musician, author, producer), Jason Bentley (music director, KCRW), Skye Edwards (musician), Cassandra Steen (musician). So that will be a great start into the festival for all professionals.
The session program with its 12 thematic threads and several keynotes by e.g. Daniel Lieberberg (Sony), Peter Schwenkow (DEAG), Imogen Heap (Mycelia), Harvey Goldsmith (HG Int.), Eliah Seton (ADA) or Jackie Wilgar (Live Nation) takes place mainly on Thursday and Friday and offers all in all more than 150 panels and talks.
Besides the specialist programme we present 50 showcases from Korea to Canada, from Kenya to Finland and even more receptions of partners where you can connect with companies like Amazon, Apple, Deezer, Spotify, or Youtube.