Q’s With A Pollstar Live! Panelist: Beatrice Stirnimann, CEO Of Baloise Session

Beatrice Stirnimann
Dominik Plüss
– Beatrice Stirnimann
CEO of Baloise Session
If you have never attended the Baloise Session in Basel, Switzerland, you’re missing out. It may be the most authentic concert series in an intimate New York style jazz club setting outside, well, New York. Miles Davis, James Brown, Pink, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Alicia Keys and Ms. Lauryn Hill are just a few of the big names that played the Session in the past.
Beatrice Stirnimann, the CEO of Baloise Session, will speak at the upcoming Pollstar Live! 2019 in Beverly Hills, on the panel “International Festivals: Juicing Up a Mature Marketplace”. It’s her fourth time attending the conference, and Stirnimann told Pollstar why it was always worth making the trip from Switzerland.
What are you most looking forward to about your panel, “International Festivals: Juicing Up a Mature Marketplace”?
It’s going to be exciting to talk about the rich history of some of the festivals abroad – Baloise Session, for instance, is in its 34th year now – and see the reaction from the audience, which, I’m assuming, is going to be mostly form the U.S. 
Which industry development has impacted your business the most in recent times? 
For a festival like ours, which only works with small capacities, it can be difficult to meet the demands of major touring artists, who are used to playing large-scale festivals with capacities of 50,000 people upwards.
Whether you’re talking artist fees, production or other aspects of the show, playing the Baloise Session is a completely different experience to any other festival. You can’t just drive a truck up to the stage, for example. 
A lot of what we do is explaining to artists and their teams exactly what type of intimate, boutique event we are, also because we’re still being compared to the largest-scale events despite our size.
Once an artist plays and understands the concept of the Baloise Session they probably fall in love with it, though, don’t they?
Exactly, the atmosphere is just great. Alicia Keys, for example, stood on stage and said that she really liked the vibe of the place, adding: “Why haven’t I played here before?”
What aspect are you most looking forward to at this year’s Pollstar Live! Conference and why?
Meeting and exchanging with people, and hear about experiences different to those you acquire in Europe. I really find that exciting. You obviously also meet a lot of people you already know, business partners and friends alike. It always generates business, seeing that I can meet all the agents when in LA. The panels are really good as well, so it’s always worth going.
What recent accomplishment are you most proud of?
Selling out Baloise Session 2018 four weeks in advance.
What was the live show or shows that most changed your life and why?
When I was 14 or 15 years old, I attended my first big concert at the Hallenstadion in Zurich: Falco.
In case you don’t know Falco, he was an Austrian singer and songwriter, and a superstar over here. He really was a phenomenon. His biggest hit was “Rock Me Amadeus”, you may know that one. 
The performance in Zurich had me standing there open-mouthed, thinking: ‘Wow!’
It was Falco that sparked my passion for concerts, and after that show I knew I wanted to help organize concerts for a living. It took a while for that to come true, obviously, since I was far too young back then.