Sheeran, Schlager And The Summer Of A Century: Germany Is Hot Right Now

Ed Sheeran plays Hamburg
Kristian Sickinger
– Ed Sheeran plays Hamburg
FKP Scorpio says the Hamburg show in front of some 80,000 spectators was Sheeran
Whenever it is a World Cup or Euros year, Germany’s live entertainment professionals experience a dip in ticket sales. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing that Germany is among the world’s soccer-craziest nations. If Elvis returned from the dead to play a comeback concert that happened to clash with a group-stage fixture between Germany and Azerbaijan, most Germans would choose Die Mannschaft. 
This year was different. Whether it was the German team’s miserable performance at the World Cup in Russia, or the fact that the country experienced the summer of a century after years of miserable festival weather, is unknown. What is known is the fact that the country’s promoters had a stellar year.
One of them is Folkert Koopmans, founder of FKP Scorpio, which is headquartered in Hamburg but operates in most of Europe. He told Pollstar, that his company had “a very successful year – maybe even the best we ever had: We are looking back on a great festival season with perfect summer weather and extremely positive feedback from our guests and artists. We also organized very successfully sold-out tours with the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and The Rolling Stones, plus many more tours and concerts.”
Andre Lieberberg, president of Live Nation GSA, summed up 2018 as “dynamic and constantly evolving with a higher velocity than in previous years.”
He said, “the biggest difference compared to previous years has been the fact that we have had a very warm and dry summer, with no severe/inclement weather or other threat scenarios. Virtually no festival had to deal with interruptions, cancellations or any kind of force majeure related issue. As a result ticket sales for festivals already on sale for 2019 have gone up substantially across the board.”
Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion from Hamburg is looking back on “a very successful live year” as well. Company MD Ben Mitha said: “We started with a completely sold out run of eight Erasure dates, followed by the first ever arena tour of Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, sold out tours by Gianna Nannini and Randy Crawford, a very successful Elbjazz Festival and really phenomenal Stadtpark Open Air season with over 130,000 visitors. Our domestic acts such as Johannes Oerding, Max Giesinger, Michael Patrick Kelly or Fjort had a very busy festival season, so, overall, we can’t complain at all.”
Oliver Hoppe, managing director of Wizard Promotions, pointed out that the summer heatwave also brought certain difficulties with it – both financially and logistically. Nonetheless, it’s been a “very positive year” for Wizpro, since “a lot of traffic was coming through in the summer despite the World Cup,” according to Hoppe.
One of the biggest concert productions to ever hit the road in Germany was promoted by Semmel Concerts: 14 stadium shows by Helene Fischer, two of them in Austria and Switzerland, respectively, which sold a total of 550,000 tickets. Celine Kühnel, managing director at eps, who oversaw the tour, said: “Usually, when we’re on the road with a production of that size, it’s a U.S. or UK production.” 
Helene Fischer
Anelia Janeva
– Helene Fischer
Germany’s most successful entertainer

It may have been a wonderful summer for live events, but challenges remain. FKP Scorpio almost lost one Ed Sheeran gig in Germany, because the city of Düsseldorf denied it from going ahead last minute. “Big events like stadium concerts or festivals need a lot of planning. We notice that the amount of time, infrastructure and paperwork we need to put in to meet the requirements of the authorities when it comes to noise, traffic or security issues, is growing all the time,” Koopmans said.
Hoppe listed the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, secondary ticketing and dynamic scaling, as well as a general shift in consumer behavior as imminent challenges. “I personally embrace those challenges as we need to keep a cool head and be quick on our feet,” he said 
Mitha mentioned the difficulty of preparing for unpredictable and extreme weather, while also doing everything within one’s powers to operate as a green and sustainable company. He added that the demise of big daily newspapers or monthly magazines, combined with the emergence of many small and specialized music platforms “make it very hard sometimes to figure out which medium would be best to work with for our campaigns.”
According to Lieberberg, “one concrete challenge that we are facing are the substantial changes the festival landscape is undergoing. Camping is no longer a key factor in establishing new events. In addition to musical programming becoming more complex in the age of streaming, the ambience and lifeworld of a festival has also become a key factor. New concepts for metropolitan boutique / lifestyle events are more in demand than establishing mega-festivals in rural open-field locations. Generally speaking security and governmental regulations continue to be key challenges for our industry and we therefore treat with utmost priority.”
Change also creates opportunities, “a lot of them,” according to Hoppe, who said, “one of the key factors will be customer experience and giving the concertgoers a fuller experience, before the show, during the show and after.”
Said Mitha: “Right now, besides artistic content, a major key seems to be owning venues, festival grounds or open air sites. That’s why we’re currently working on several ideas and projects to get involved in more venue or open-air options.”
According to Lieberberg, “there are opportunities for creativity and growth in various areas of the live entertainment business and related value chains. The range includes areas such as Food & Beverage, brand and media partnerships or additional revenue streams opening up via VR/AR streaming and VOD opportunities.
“Generally I believe that we’re at the beginning of an era of bigger disruptions. Blockhain payment methodsor audio-visual and VR technologies are going to have an large impact on the way fans can purchase, experience, enhance and relive live entertainment.”