Fantastischen Vier, Wincent Weiss, Fae August and Dj Thomilla were due to perform at the first major “Ferro.Live” pop festival in central Germany on August 28 – largely without the known restrictions of the pandemic, such as the requirement to wear masks and distance requirements. But the growing incidence prompted the organizer to …
Fantastischen Vier, Wincent Weiss, Fae August and Dj Thomilla were due to perform at the first major “Ferro.Live” pop festival in central Germany on August 28 – largely without the known restrictions of the pandemic, such as the requirement to wear masks and distance requirements. But the growing incidence prompted organizers to cancel the long-awaited event. When Freie Presse spoke to Mirko Roßner, Managing Director of the organizing company Goodlive GmbH, Berlin, he always assumed that the pop festival would be a success. Tim Hofmann asked the questions.
: Football has long been allowed to take place in front of an audience. Why is it so difficult for outdoor cultivation?
Mirko Roßner: Football has different framework conditions: separate entrances and fixed seats allow a better organization of walking routes. The associations started to discuss these concepts very early in a dialogue with the health authorities. Good networking in politics has certainly helped. As organizers, we first had to make our voices heard in order to be able to discuss our concepts.
Experts firmly expect a fourth wave. How stable are the current concert plans, even with good concepts?
Of course, we too are skeptical about a possible fourth wave and hope that advances in vaccination in particular will reduce the severity of the disease. About 54% of the population is currently fully immunized – and intensive care units and the associated burden on our healthcare system are low. We are convinced that we will also have to live with the virus in the future. But there are concepts that allow a controlled return to culture, concerts and festivals. The reasons, such as protecting groups at risk or the health system, are understandable and correct. Our employees and we as entrepreneurs have done everything in recent months to design a safe concept for this new start. We now need to check the resilience of these concepts, readjust them if necessary and thus show that again there can be events with 100 percent capacity.
The live industry had perhaps become the most important pillar of the music industry over the past 20 years. For a long time in the pandemic, it was assumed that there would be a “starvation effect” among the public, which would ensure rapid resuscitation. Meanwhile, however, there are also voices that assume a long-term weakening in demand for concerts due to a change in entertainment behavior. What are you saying, how will the concert market evolve with and after Corona?
We have just evaluated the results of our survey on attitudes towards live entertainment. Here we clearly see a different picture: people say they want to go to more concerts and more festivals. People miss the emotions and the closeness to their artists. Blankets, beach chairs, or other measures are not a substitute for what most people understand about a concert experience. We see very strong demand for 2022 and uncertainties this year. As soon as there are clear signals from politics, there will be a banknote rush, as is currently the case in England.
The festival business was already heading towards saturation in recent years. Is the pandemic also an opportunity to thoroughly rethink offers that have become expensive, but perhaps also rusty?
The festival market has changed a lot in recent years. There are more and more festivals and this increases the competition. It is no longer enough to stage artists. People want more sustainable concepts, good food and drink offerings, diverse offerings in addition to stages, an overall experience coordinated with comfort. We have always seen a festival as a total work of art where all the wheels have to fit together in order to create the perfect moment for our visitors – we have always tried to look at our festivals through the eyes of our visitors. It helps us as Goodlive and will make festivals that don’t fit go away.
What has saved companies like yours from the Corona crisis so far?
Aid programs have of course helped alleviate the biggest damage and we have always grown very organically, without loans or whatever. During the crisis, we had to continue working with our entire team, rescheduling tours, ensuring communication with visitors, processing tickets or working on concepts. We cannot leave everything and we have invested money for it. Ultimately, we will need more than two years to recover the investments.
In politics, the pop culture entertainment sector has not been noticed or taken seriously for a long time. Has that changed now after campaigns like ‘It’s Quiet Without Us’, which perhaps made the industry really visible for the first time?
We have painfully realized how weak our position in politics is. Campaigns have gone a long way to show how complex our industry is. An industry in which people who love their job are active, but also an industry that is a major economic and tourist factor. The live industry plays a very important role in and around Chemnitz in particular. Many companies are based there and employ people, pay taxes and are an economic factor. We will continue to seek dialogue with politicians, to have met interlocutors through the campaigns and to exchange ideas. Everyone understands that culture is essential and that society needs this entertainment.
Mirko Roßneri is entrepreneur and managing director of Goodlive GmbH, Berlin, and founding member of the Splash Festival, which first took place in 1998 at the power station on Zwickauer Strasse in Chemnitz, subsequently attracted up to 35,000 visitors at the Oberrabenstein reservoir. and today in Ferropolis in Saxony-Anhalt is home. The 47-year-old festival is now considered one of the biggest hi-hop events in the world.