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Three Giants Fighting Over European Music, Part 2

"Today it's just about money, it's like an auction, the one who pays the most money for an artist gets the deal," says one of the largest concert promoters in Germany. This comment is in relation to the fight over European music between the three major entertainment companies. The German impresario, Karsten Jahnke, who sets up hundreds of concerts in Germany every year, is far from satisfied about how the music business is working today. As an independent promoter since 1959, he gradually belongs to a small and exclusive society of special promoters.

The number of music and entertainment agencies and promoters in Europe, which are independent and autonomous, is getting fewer every year. Three giant companies are buying up smaller companies in order to control the majority of the European music market. One of the giants is the American company Clear Channel Entertainment, until July known as SFX Entertainment, which today is the world's largest producer and marketer of live entertainment.

Clear Channel Entertainment is operating all over the world from the United States, Canada, Brazil, over 19 European countries to Australia, New Zealand, China and Russia. The music business in Germany is especially affected by the keen competition between the larger entertainment companies in the world. Besides the American company's operations, the two German companies DEAG, Deutsche Entertainment AG, and CTS Eventim, are striving to be considerable factors in European entertainment.

German rock for billions of marks

The annual turnover from rock and pop concerts in Germany is around 1.35 billion DM and both DEAG and CTS are buying up smaller concert promoters. Today Stella Musicals and the two major tour promoters CoCo Tours and Mama Concerts are owned by DEAG, which next year is expected to have a turnover of 680 million DM. CTS Eventim has reached the position of being the second largest concert group in Germany with a trade of 130 million DM.

The 63 year old impresario Karsten Jahnke can today look back on over 40 years of work with music, and now has a staff of 26 employees in Hamburg. The company has an annual turnover of nearly 35 million DM and sets up 500 concerts in Germany every year. The list of artists and bands which he is working with is extensive and contains names like Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Sting, Mark Knopfler, Herbert Grönemeyer, Peter Gabriel, The Cure and Depeche Mode. Karsten Jahnke has a reputation of letting artists perform even if there is no money in it, as long as he believes in them.

Destroyed rock business

The band Depeche Mode is an example of the magnanimity of Karsten Jahnke. In a portrait in Hamburger Abendblatt in July, he told the story of the upcoming band, which he gave the chance to perform for the first time ten years ago, when they could only play for 45 minutes.

But the concert business has become much harder now, Karsten Jahnke said to the Hamburger newspaper.
– The rock business has been systematically destroyed over the past years. Too many promoters undersell each other, so now it is like an auction, just about money. The one who offers the most money for a tour gets the deal. Even collaboration with an artist through many years does not help anymore. The audience today is paying any price for a top concert, and that supports this negative tendency, says Karsten Jahnke.

Since Karsten Jahnke expressed his opinion this summer, the huge entertainment companies have continued their efforts to build up powerful music bastions all over Europe and the world. All the time new bands and artists are born and participate in the struggle to be seen demanding an eternally developing music industry, which can promote, sell and organize.

The fact that music has big economic importance is being acknowledged all around the world. This importance is shown by, among others, the following examples: In Hamburg, a new musical centre is to receive financial support from among others the EU in order to keep the city as the German music capital. In Sweden, people from Hultsfred Festival have received money from the government to build up a huge Swedish musical centre, Rock City. In Denmark, a football club has just bought one of the biggest Danish festivals, Midtfyns Festival, because the club acknowledges that musical activity can support the football game.

With this series of articles, VIP-Booking wants to put focus on the future of the European live music scene. We want to initiate a debate on whether this hasty development is good or bad for the live music scene in Europe. If you have a viewpoint to this debate or some relevant experiences let us know by sending an e-mail to and we will contact you to discuss the matter further.