HAMBURG — After staging 600 concerts by 412 acts from 51 nations over four days, the Reeperbahn Festival says it had its most successful year since launching in 2006. The event attracted 50,000 visitors, including 5,900 music industry professionals, organizers said.
“The music and its narrative power as an important instrument against populism could be seen and experienced just as much as in about 300 programmes for professionals, including topics such as gender equality, sound & society and more,” said Frehn Hawel, a spokesman for the festival.
Reeperbahn Festival CEO Alexander Schulz announced the new goals for the second phase of the international gender balance initiative in music at the Keychange 2.0 press conference. Among other initiatives, the declaration of intent, the so-called 50/50 pledge to offer gender-balanced programmes by 2022, will be extended from festivals to many other organizations in music, such as labels, venues, radio stations, orchestras and conservatories.
“In the process, gender equality in music was negotiated in almost all formats and individual events,” said Schulz.
The winner of this year’s international talent competition award, dubbed the Anchor, was Ukrainian rapper alyona alyona. The Anchor jury included Tony Visconti, Bob Rock, Peaches, Kate Nash, Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß and Australian radio presenter Zan Rowe attended the six nominees’ concerts over three evenings and selected the winner from nominees including soul singer Celeste (GB), alyona alyona, punk-pop band The Hormones (CN), post-punk trio DRAHLA (GB), songwriter Moyka (NO) and dream pop duo Feng Suave (NL).
Bob Rock, Anchor 2019 jury member, said of alyona alyona: “I got out of my chair, stood up, almost danced and took videos which I actually don’t think I’ve ever done before. I didn’t understand a word she was singing but it came out so powerful. It really blew my mind. And most importantly I would buy her record in a heartbeat.”
The “Australian Music Export Office Sounds Australia” presented 17 bands and artists as this year’s Reeperbahn Festival partner country. In addition, Australia was represented on the anchor-award 2019 jury and board by TV and radio presenter Zan Rowe and Maria Amato, managing director of the Australian Association Of Independent Record Labels.
Glenn Dickie, Export Music Producer, Sounds Australia: “After six years working with Australian artists at Reeperbahn Festival, we couldn’t be happier with how our year as focus country has played out. There was the incredible performance from Dope Lemon and an appearance of the Australian Deputy Ambassador to Germany, Simon Clayton and anchor judge Zan Rowe at ‘doors open.’ We had an absolutely huge edition of THE AUSSIE BBQ with 15 artists, a full house and a line down the street all day. Our artists and managers are excited by all of the business opportunities that have been presented to them and we are excited to continue this momentum in presenting great Australian music to the German market.”
New this year were two opening concerts by the BBC and a showcase by the Country Music Association, with Blanco Brown (US) and Rachel Wammack (US) including an accompanying panel session for trade visitors. For the first time, the theme “Film & Future” was offered, including two keynote interviews with actor Matt Dillon and an addition to the film screening programme, which included the European premiere of Creating Woodstock with Woodstock co-founder Joel Rosenman.
It was also at Reeperbahn that IMPALA, the independent music companies association, announced its new 32-member board, including six new members. The industry org elected Francesca Trainini of Italian independent music body PMI as its new chair. New member groups include Eleven Seven Label Group (U.S.), SCL/Lusitanian (Portugal), HAIL (Hungary), INDIERO (Romania), RUNDA (Balkans) and VTMÖ (Austria). Martin Mills of Beggars Group, Jérôme Roger of French association UPFI, Paul Pacifico from AIM and Dario Drastata of RUNDA were among those voted onto IMPALA’s management board.
New venues for this year were the Hamburg Planetarium with the Ólafur Arnald’s show Ekki Hugsa 360° and the Millerntor Stadium’s soccer player tunnel. For the first time, the Future Playground in the Festival Village presented sustainable social visions and the UN sustainability goals as well as the Music Makers Playground, where instrument manufacturers showcased their products. For the first time, the Next Generation module was aimed at 16 to 21-year-old Reeperbahn Festival visitors, who were able to gain an insight into the music industry on the festival Saturday.
Following the successful country partnership with Australia, the focus next year will be on Denmark, said spokesman Hawel. “Against the backdrop of the first German-Danish Cultural Friendship Year, Denmark presented its most exciting artists and, together with members of the Danish music industry, offered insights into the music market of our neighbouring country.”
The next Reeperbahn Festival will take place Sept. 16-19, 2020, with tickets already available.