Achtung Baby: Informative state-of-play on the German Music Landscape

Achtung Baby: Informative state-of-play on the German Music Landscape

Presented by Music Passport

An informative briefing on the fourth largest music market in the world. Where and how is Australian music connecting in Germany? Recent APRA AMCOS reports are showing positive increase across all revenue categories, but what does that mean for you and your music?

Thursday 23rd November 11:15 to 12:15 at NGV Theatrette

Maria Amato – AIR (Moderator)

Michael Pohl- Kontor New Media

Justin Cosby – Inertia

Katrina Ivanovo -Sound Diplomacy

Nicholas Albanis – APRA AMCOS

Germany is the fourth largest recorded music market in the world, which combines an enduring, and robust physical sector with a fast-growing but intensely competitive streaming market. With enduring sales of physical formats, there is a hugely successful music festival market with approximately 71 contemporary music festivals a year. These range from small local boutique festivals to very large national festivals. Australia artists are successful in Germany, and include; AC/DC, Flume, You Am I and numerous Australia metal bands, which tend to fly under the radar bands.  This is also a great marketplace for singer songwriters as they can tour on a very limited budget once they have arrived in the territory. Niche bands and artists always seem to do well. Live performance return figures are skewed by the success of Australian music export mega-stars AC/DC on their recent tour. The advanced infrastructure of contemporary music in Germany is remarkable for its diversity. Ever since The Beatles arrived in Hamburg, Germany in 1962, the German music industry has grown to support a very healthy industry. Australia has a 50-year history with Germany, with Australian artists viewed very favourably by German fans.

The biggest logistical and most costly aspect for any Australian artist wishing to conduct business in Germany is physicality of travelling to Germany. It’s a good 22-hour flight from virtually anywhere in Australia, but once there it’s a valuable market in which to conduct business. Australian artists wishing to conduct business in Germany should register with APRA AMCOS overseas registration. GEMA is the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (English: Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights) and is the state-authorized collecting society and performance rights organization based in Germany, with administrative offices in Berlin and Munich. GEMA represents the usage rights stemming from authors’ rights (e.g., mechanical licensing, broadcast licensing, synchronization licensing) for the musical works of those composers, lyricists, and publishers who are members in the organization. It is the only such institution in Germany. There are details about how to undertake this process on the APRA website. The advice of the panel is to register with APRA AMCOS and GEMA and get paid. This applies to all artists and bands not just the big international touring acts. German’s are organised and even the smallest clubs or stage managers at festivals should have the claim forms for each performance. Playing music that you have written will result in great dividends. Returns are paid six to twelve months after the paperwork is lodged.

Germany has a population of approximately 83 million people in a landmass of 357,376 km². When you compare that to Australia’s 24 million people in a landmass of 7.692 million km², the density of the market is very attractive. For musicians, the German capital of Berlin is still a playground of inspiration and creativity. In recent years, Berlin has become a magnet for creative minds and extroverted artists, among them many Australians. According to the Federal Statistical Office, more than 12,000 Australians lived in Germany in 2016, over 4,000 of them in Berlin, and their numbers are increasing. Germany is more than the big three cities of Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. Artists should consider promoting and playing all over the country. There are a large number of publicly funded broadcasting corporations in Germany and virtually every one of which has a separate department for new music. These radio stations are a driving force behind the great diversity of Germany’s contemporary music sphere. There are over 400 universities in German all with music hungry audiences. Aim for university towns to build audiences.

As with any territory, it is vital to build those personal relationships and networks with venues, bookers and promoters. This can be done remotely from Australia prior to releasing or performing in Germany.  With its central position in Europe, both geographically and financially, Germany makes for a great beachhead to other European territories.  With budget airlines, many other other Euro cities are within easy reach. The panel recommends that artists recruit a local social media/PR expert or company. Promotion should be cost effective and must be mixed media, e.g. gigs, sales, promotion, the fully 360 degree package. If artists are signed/licensed to a German record company, then make sure you know and communicate with your product manager at least six months before promotions begin. Artists should also undertake their own social media, make it personal, to reinforce the promotions of record companies, distributors and promoters too. As with most other territories airplay is vital so leverage this medium as much as possible.

As with the rest of Europe, Germany has relaxed its Visa process. Australian citizens do not need to apply for a visa to visit and can stay for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. The 90 days can be used either for one long stay or several shorter stays, which is useful if you are touring to other European countries.  For longer periods, e.g. to study in Germany, then a student visa will be required. Many education institutions teach in English as well as German. Longer visas will need a business plan or proof of money to prove that you can support yourself. If you wish to prove that you are an artist, you will need a portfolio of work. As with any foreign travel, you will need to have proof of health insurance, which is expensive in Germany. If you have evidenced proof, then three months as Australian in Germany/Europe is relatively easy. Just because your act/art/band is not working in Australia don’t be put off trying to promote yourself across Europe/Germany, e.g. The Rubens broke in Germany way before their home market.

Written by Tim Dalton