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Vip Magazine: Interview to bdv President Jens Michow


He is the president of the Federal German Association for the Promoters and Event Business (bdv), the executive producer of the Live Entertainment Award (LEA), a Supervisory Board member of the federal government‘s funding agency Initiative Musik and professor for law at the Music Academy in Munich. Prof. Jens Michow spoke with VIP-News about the challenges in the German music market and about his future plans.

Prof. Michow, this year the LEA is taking place for the 12th time. What makes this event still special for you?
– The LEA is THE annual meeting of the whole German speaking event industry. It’s an unique chance to show to the public, the media and the politics that live entertainment plays a main role in the Music Business. This was the main reason why we’ve started the show and after so many years with so many sorrows, my enthusiasm has never stopped as it brings some great memories back to the time when I was promoting shows and concerts.

The LEA is also a review of the previous year. How would you sum up 2016?
– It was the most dif cult year for German promoters. The cancellation and termination of festivals due to storm, lightning and ood rains, and the necessary measures to protect the audience against terror attacks were huge challenges. As a consequence of this, higher insurance costs, additional costs for danger defense and a weatherproof preparation of the festival grounds made festivals much more expensive and resulted

in higher ticket prices. That’s the reason why some of the bigger German festivals weren’t sold out this year as quickly as they usually are.

According to the 2015 published survey “Musikwirtschaftsstudie” the German Music market achieved total revenue of 11 Billion Euro. The gross value of the live entertainment was about 27 percent. Could you please explain the impact of that market?

– The German music market ranks on the worldwide scale just behind the US and Japan – amazingly before Great Britain. And live music has the major share of the music market in total. However, all these gures are based on turnover. And besides the fact, that the record sales after most dif cult years are at best stagnating, it’s easy to understand, that the ticket price volume is such much higher than just buying a CD. Even if the consumer buys at the same time in the same period both, a record and a concert ticket, this would raise a higher turnover on the concert side. So you can’t compare just the turnover to judge the impact of the one and the other. I’m pretty sure, that the comparison of the related expenses would show a much higher expense factor on the side of the promoters.

Anyway, promoters don’t complain about the demand in tickets. However, they have to watch very carefully the development of ticket prices, which have their reason in constantly rising artist fees and production costs. If we don’t succeed to stop this development, it might be quite likely that also the concert end event market might have to face a downturn, as we can observe it already in the festival market.

In 2016 the bdv, together with the Italian association Assomusica, developed the European umbrella organization ELMA. What‘s the aim of that partnership?

– As an international non-pro t association the European Live Music Association ELMA operates between associations, complementary European networks, organizations and professionals to give a voice to professionals involved in the live music. It was started by Assomusica, who’s president Vincenzo Spera is the president of ELMA, and I have the honor to be the vice president.

Talking about associations, one big news in 2016 was about the fusion of the two German promoter associations bdv and VDKD (Verband der Deutschen Konzertdirektionen). How would the structure look like?

– The members of both associations decided that bdv and VDKD will merge at the end of 2018. I committed myself to stay president of the merged association till 2021. In those three years we will have to nd, hire and train an executive manager.

At the beginning of this year the rst collecting society for the neighboring rights of promoters in Europe GWVR (Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Veranstalterrechten) published it’s rst tariffs. Who can take part of it?

– If a concert gets recorded and distributed by a record company or transmitted by a TV or radio station, or YouTube and Spotify, most promoters might not even know that the German Law grants them an equivalent right on their productions. This right will be from now on controlled by the GWVR, the same way as GEMA controls the use of author rights or GVL collects the compensation for

the use of the rights of performing artists and record companies. The sole owner an initiator of GWVR is the bdv.
In my opinion, this is the biggest thing we have ever done – it’s a revolution in the live entertainment business. Promoters are not any longer just depending on the economic success of their shows, they bene t from rights as record companies or artists do. And, by the way, this legal right is not new. It just has never been properly exercised.

What do the rst tariffs cover?

– The GWVR published their rst tariffs for the use of live recording on albums and recorded products. It foresees compensation of 7 percent, if live content is more than 50 percent of the whole, dropping to 4,5 percent, if live content is between 25-50 percent, and a rate of 3,5 percent, if live content is below 25 percent.

2016 seemed very busy. What are your plans for the upcoming year?
– The bdv is just about to plan a music business conference called “Music Agenda 2017/18” in Berlin. It’s a unique concept as it’s the rst time, that all trade associations of the market shall get a forum to stress the problems, visions and demands of their sector – live entertainment, the record industry, the publishers, the venues and music clubs etc.

After all these projects, you are more active than ever before. What‘s your secret to handle all these things?
– If you feel, that you can move things, and as long as you like what you do, it’s ne. And if you have such a wonderful staff as I do, which keeps the ship sailing even when I’m on the road, you can afford to work on so many levels.