‘I See An Increase In Open-air Events Of Any Size’: Q’s With Semmel Concerts CEO Dieter Semmelmann

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Dieter Semmelmann, CEO of Semmel Concerts. (Picture by Kai Heimberg)

Semmel Concerts has been reporting the most ticket sales out of any German business to Pollstar since last year. Between Aug.1 ,2022, and July 31, 2023, it amounted to 2,664,867 tickets, grossing $161,855,379 – a significant contribution to parent company CTS Eventim’s tally on the top rank.

Pollstar reached out to Semmel Concerts CEO Dieter Semmelmann to ask all the main questions about the status quo of live entertainment in Germany.

Big Business & Small Struggles: Germany Returns To Full Strength

Pollstar: How would you sum up the state/health of the German live entertainment market in general at this point in time?
Dieter Semmelmann: I think this year was/is mainly characterized by an abundance of events of international big acts and an associated rather ‘wild’ price development. In addition, the cost explosions in the implementation of events of course remains a challenge. Nevertheless, solid and established themes continue to prevail, whereas smaller [acts] or newcomers are unfortunately having a hard time at the moment.

What’s the solution to the increased costs? Do you have room to increase ticket prices? Negotiate artist fees?
If you want to continue to hold events at a high level of quality, there is hardly any leeway here. An increase in ticket prices is also only feasible within a certain framework, at least for us.

What events andevent genres are selling best right now? Concerts, family shows, international or domestic artists?
I don’t know if you can make such a general assessment by genre. In my opinion, the parameters are different, as already mentioned above.

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Roland Kaiser is a true phenomenon, and one of the most successful Schlager
artists to ever take a stage. Here he’s seen celebrating the 20th anniversary of his
Kaisermania concert series in Dresden. (Picture by Frank Embacher)

Has customer behavior changed in any way compared to, say pre-COVID? Are they for example waiting longer to buy tickets? Is the demographic purchasing tickets shifting? Have VIP offerings gained in importance?
Only time will tell whether we can really deduce a change from the purchasing behavior of recent years. We are seeing trends for some topics, where there is a renewed impetus to buy tickets shortly before the events. But for topics that are in high demand, there is still an onrush to get the good tickets at the start of the pre-sales. The interest in VIP tickets, and treating oneself as part of a concert visit has been around for a while.

The stadium business seems to be in rude health, if you look at Europe in general. Do you see an uptake in entertainment taking place at stadiums, and does that benefit you?
I basically see an increase in open-air events of any size. We will also be going into some stadiums with Roland Kaiser next year. The live experience in a stadium is simply something very special, and there are also not that many open-air venues that have high seating capacities.

Taking all of the above into account: is there a noticeable difference between the festival business and the concert business? Is one tougher to promote than the other at the moment? And for what reasons?
Some festivals have struggled this year, which was certainly also due to the price development, and sometimes also due to the abundance of international acts on tour in Germany.

What recent successes would you like to highlight?
Fortunately, we have already had some successful tours and events this year. These include Hans Zimmer’s European tour, the indoor and open-air tours of Roland Kaiser, and Santiano, but also the open-air tours of Sarah Connor, and Nico Santos. Not to forget our exhibition “Disney100: The Exhibition”, which is traveling from Philadelphia to Chicago and from Munich to London.

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