‘Any Increase In Ticket Prices Must Be Avoided’: Q’s With Prof. Jens Michow, President Of German Promoters Association BDKV

BDKV president and CEO Prof. Jens Michow
Klaus Westermann
– BDKV president and CEO Prof. Jens Michow

Last year, the two promoters associations of Germany merged into one, bdv and VDKD became the Bundesverband der Konzert- und Veranstaltungswirtschaft (BDKV).

Prof. Jens Michow, who used to lead the bdv as president, kept his role at the new organization, where he is also CEO, alongside the other BDKV president Pascal Funke.  Pollstar caught up with Michow to get a sense of the German live entertainment market at the turn of the year.
What (audience) trends have shaped the way Germany’s promoters did business in 2018?
Prof. Jens Michow: Well, growing and tougher competition has definitely not made working in the German concert-business easier.
The overall turnover generated by the sector may have increased, but this is not due to a growing audience but simply due to increased ticket prices. That should be taken very seriously, in particular by artists and their management when calculating their revenues.
Festivals are still playing an important role in the concert business in Germany. However, festival promoters had to take note of the fact, that they cannot expect the market to grow constantly. A huge number of festivals is battling for customers and thus requires attractive and exclusive line ups. But negotiating regional exclusiveness with an artist requires higher offers. And higher fees naturally influence ticket price calculations.
Last but not least, German promoters as their colleagues in other European countries are most concerned of the growing secondary ticketing market. Our association started a visual campaign against secondary ticketing and keeps on fighting the touts wherever we can. But the one and only secure way to avoid third parties benefitting from the promoters’ work is to individualize tickets.

What will impact business in 2019?
There won’t be a big change compared to 2018: any increase in ticket prices must be avoided, and the promoters must be the only ones controlling the ticket price.
However, all parties involved need to understand that the promoter must have a fair chance of earning a living from their work. Artists and managers need to understand, that the growth in concert income won’t be infinite.
Once the height of artist-fees is maxed out, the risk of losses rises, promoters will have to be economical in other fields or they are left with not choice but to increase ticket prices again. None of that can be in the interest of agents, managers and their artists.
The bdv and VDKD just merged. What will this mean for the future?
The German promoters industries are speaking with one voice from now on. The Bundesverband der Konzert- und Veranstaltungswirtschaft (BDKV) – as the merged association is called now – represents almost 100 percent of the market, not just promoters in the fields of pop and rock music.
As opposed to the [former] bdv, the BDKV also represents the promoters and agents of classical artists and concerts. And, of course, the new association also represents promoters of comedy, cabaret, theatre, musicals, circus and also promoters of exhibitions like Tutanchamun, Magic City etc., just like the bdv used to.
Altogether, the BDKV is representing more than 500 companies, starting with the biggest like Live Nation, DEAG, Stage Entertainment or Semmel Concerts, right up to small one-man enterprises. We can now fall back on a bigger budget, even more impact and an even greater concentration of the live industry’s strengths.