IMPACT INTERNATIONAL: UK/EURO HONORS
Founder & CEO, FKP Scorpio
Weathering Storms Together: Folkert Koopmans On The Great Comeback
Folkert Koopmans started collecting records when he was 12 years old, preferably live recordings. It wasn’t until a good few years later that he attended his first real concert. “The only reason for the delay being the fact that there simply wasn’t much going on in the rural area I lived in,” Koopmans says, referring to the village of Marienhafe in Eastern Friesland, Germany, where he grew up on a farm. It is also where he promoted his first concert, local rock band Amuthon at the local youth center in 1981, when he was 17 years old.
Koopmans still owns a farm today – it is one of his three favorite things in life – but lives just outside of Hamburg, one of the busiest cities in Germany when it comes to live entertainment. His own company, FKP Scorpio, founded in 1990 in the famous harbor city, has a lot to do with that. Koopmans was already shaping the city’s live entertainment scene in the years leading up to FKP Scorpio’s foundation, as booker for the iconic Hamburg venues Große Freiheit 36 and Docks. But the launch of his own business changed the entire game.
The roster of artists FKP promotes in various European markets today includes major acts like The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, Sam Fender, Dermot Kennedy, George Ezra, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber and more. Many of them were finally able to tour Europe again in 2022, making this past year one of the busiest in company history.
Koopmans, known for his humility, doesn’t take it for granted. “To have had a comeback such as ours was indeed something special and it’s important to point out that many factors played a role in this: Given that we’re more than 30 years in business, we have simply gained the trust of many artists,” he says. “Additionally, we acquired a vast network of contacts and partners that enables us to plan and implement complex events even in difficult circumstances.”
Through key acquisitions and appointments in the past two years, FKP Scorpio enhanced its business in most of its major markets, including Germany, the UK, and the Nordics. Twin German festivals Hurricane and Southside, which have become mainstays in the calendars of music fans across Europe, returned for the first time in three years, June 17-19, with sold-out editions, welcoming 78,000, and 65,000 daily guests, respectively. The festivals were headlined by Twenty One Pilots, The Killers, Rise Against, Kings of Leon, Martin Garrix, and German superstars Seeed, and K.I.Z. Tempelhof Sounds, a joint production with DreamHaus, premiered in Berlin, June 10-12, turning over 43,000 tickets for its first edition with a lineup that included Florence + The Machine, Muse, alt-J, The Strokes and Interpol, just to name a few.
Blockbuster tours promoted by FKP Scorpio in 2022 include Ed Sheeran and The Rolling Stones. Upcoming highlights include tours by Bring Me The Horizon, as well as new show formats like “The Masked Singer,” which will be the first production helmed by FKP Show Creations launched earlier this year, only a few months after the opening of an in-house spoken word and comedy touring department. FKP Scorpio’s portfolio has never been more diverse.
Aside from expanding business, “The fact that we’ve enjoyed some very successful years before the pandemic, making it possible to amass the necessary funds to fall back on, is also helpful,” he says. “Lastly, I’m more than happy that our teams in every country are reliable and continue to show outstanding motivation in these uncertain times, something that’s not taken for granted and that I’m very thankful for.”
Koopmans says he’s fully aware that only a team effort could make it seem like business was back to pre-pandemic levels, which in FKP Scorpio’s case meant more than half a million visitors and close to $60 million in revenue across one weekend, as recorded in June of 2019. It ranked ninth on Pollstar’s Q3 promoters chart that year by gross ($136,825,036). At the end of September 2022, FKP Scorpio ranked fifth on the chart, with a reported gross of $237,260,364.
Koopmans kept his teams motivated the only way he knew, “As best as I could. I don’t want to sound like we had a master plan for this, but after the pandemic hit, we saw early on how important honesty and transparency would be. So, we set up a regular newsletter as well as digital Q&As and other team activities,” he explains. In addition, the company offers professional mental counseling for employees, completely anonymous and handled by an external institution that can be reached easily and quickly for a first consultation. “We also made it clear from the start that we will weather through this storm together, including the promise that all jobs would be safe,” he says. “Of course, openness towards your employees is always a good idea, [and that] remains especially important in regard to what lies ahead.”
The promise has been kept and the storm weathered. Yet, instead of being able to sail on calm waters for a while, the next one is already brewing on the horizon. “It’s true that the last crisis wasn’t really over when the next one started,” he says. “While the demand for culture is still somewhat dampened after the pandemic, especially noticeable for smaller and middle-sized concerts, Russia’s horrible war in Ukraine has changed everything. With energy prices skyrocketing at an unprecedented rate, all products and services are getting more expensive. As a result of this and the economic impact of the pandemic, global inflation is soaring, resulting in less demand, and rising production costs for the event industry. We’re talking about a 30percent cost increase – a level that cannot be ignored, but also not just passed on to our customers. In conclusion, the coming year won’t be a smooth ride either: margins, if any, will be small. That being said, we’re very confident that we’ll overcome yet another challenge, given the fact that we’ll have some very strong acts on our stages.”
While a lot has changed on the outside over the course of the last three years, Koopmans’ “attitude and love for what I do hasn’t changed at all,” he says. “The ‘Why’ has always remained the same: to create a special place for people and enable them to forge memories lasting a lifetime – that gives me and the whole team goosebumps every single time.”
By now, it should have become clear that music is one of Koopmans’ three favorite things in life, along with his family and farm. Koopmans adds, “It’s the combination of those things I value the most.”