MXD visited the Berlin Ja Ja Ja Club Night at Musik & Frieden earlier this month to catch up with the Berlin industry professionals, sip in the atmosphere and investigate what makes the local industry interested in Danish and Nordic talent. An earlier article reporting from the event, including interviews with Christian Göbel from Motor Entertainment and Vivien Mierzkalla from Humming Records/Verstärker, can be found here.
The Ja Ja Ja showcase evening attracted a considerable amount of local industry, and among the names on the guest list were industry professionals from labels, blogs, agencies, promotors, managements and publishing houses, representing companies such as Berlin Music Week, Humming Records, Motor Entertainment, Prime Tours, Landstreicher Booking, City Slang and many, many more.
We met with Dennis Krause to talk about booking shows, the German music market and how to break it in Germany.
Dennis Krause – Prime Tours, Head of A&R
Dennis Krause is head of A&R at Prime Tours, a German booking agency booking artists in the pop, world and jazz genres. The company’s roster is a colourful mix of mostly international artists, although the only Danish artist is Caroline Henderson. Nordic names are Finnish/French Eva & Manu and Icelandic Útidúr. The rest of the names Prime Tours looks after include artists from France, Portugal, Poland, UK, Spain, Canada, US and many other countries. Among the top-selling names is Sophie Hunger, a Swiss pop artist.
‘Sophie Hunger is one of the artists we’ve been lucky to break. She plays venues in the 1500 tickets-per-show category, which means that she’s one of the most important names on our roster, economically speaking. We have a handful of that kind of artists and that’s how companies like us can survive’.
‘Most of our artists are still just selling a decent 100-200 tickets per show, which means we don’t make much money of them yet. Of course, we’re aiming at breaking them at some point.’
Your roster has over 50 artists – are all of them artist that you hope to break one day?
‘Yes, they are. We think they have the potential to sell out the big venues – but that doesn’t necessarily mean all of them are going to do it. It takes an enormous amount of hard work and patience, and a good input from the labels and promotion teams. With Sophie Hunger we made a five year plan and started working from there – and it was very successful.’
‘As a band it’s important to work with an agent who knows what kind of shows you need to play. I’ve seen artists who’ve lost their patience and turned to big international promoters. They’ve been guaranteed major festivals found on the promoters roster and they end up playing the 1 pm slots on Sunday afternoons. I’ve seen many careers go to waste that way.’
Dennis describes himself as something of an old-school guy when it comes to work in the music industry.
‘I admit that I’m looking very much at the numbers and figures. There has to be money in what we do – otherwise it’s literally not worth it. But it’s important to understand that if you want to make money, you will also have to invest your money in something, like new artists and markets.’
The live business is very concrete: it’s fees, ticket sales, pre-sales and production costs. Something that suits Dennis very well.
‘It’s fairly easy to see what works economically and what doesn’t. I have a friend who’s working very much in the digital field. Digital and online buzz definitely has its worth for emerging artists, but I’ve learned from my friend that it’s much harder to monetize – both for the people generating the buzz and for the artists.’
Although Prime Tours is working with artists across all of Europe, not many names on the roster hail from Scandinavia. Dennis says he’s very interested in the region and eager to find out more about what the Danish and Scandinavian music scene has to offer.