Playing Gigs in Germany
Check out our Greater Region Live Music Directory, with more than 300 concert bars, venues, festivals and concert organizers.
There is also a regional directory for Rhineland-Palatinate which can be found on the website of the LAG Rock & Pop and a national one hosted by Backstage Pro.
As far as festivals go, you might want to have a look at the Festivalguide & Festivalticker.
Further relevant information can be found on the website of the Deutsches Musiksinformationszentrum as well.
When you set out to play in a new territory, you certainly ask yourselves where to start. Here a few tips on what locations you might want to choose first and which partners to team up with:
Contact German acts which you like and which might attract a fanbase similar to yours. Co-organize and co-promote your shows on their and your territory respectively.
As a foreign act, you might want to consider playing festivals first. In Germany, a certain number of them are partly publicly funded and might have a mission to showcase emerging talent. Moreover, festivals are quite interesting due to an extensive promotion of their line-up and the larger audience they generally attract. Identify showcase, niche and small to medium-sized festivals as they might be more inclined to book unknown artists if their sound matches the taste of the festival audience. Some festivals might also have a history of cooperating with your national export bureau, which may grant you an easier access. Make sure to be ready, though, as playing a big festival stage might be an awe-inspiring experience the first time!
Obviously, booking agencies provide you with a service that comes at a certain cost: the booking fees (a negotiable percentage of your artist fee). Generally, you must claim a relevant background in DIY before getting their attention and should be represented by a legal entity registered in your home country, because this enables you to edit a proper invoice.
Pay to play:
In Germany, it's not uncommon that certain concert organizers apply a pay to play procedure for emerging acts.
Once you have identified a number of music professionals (bookers, agents) you intend to get in touch with, make sure to pay attention to these essential elements:
> make sure to present a decent concert curriculum (at least) in your country of origin
> locate the people with helpful resources & contacts:
Within the Greater Region, the members of the Multipistes network (in Rhineland-Palatinate: LAG Rock & Pop, in Saarland: Saarländischer Rockmusikerverband) are committed to deal with inquiries from their neighbours. You also might want to seek information at your export office about available support devices.
> identify and get to know the bookers and the local audience for your music
> always customize your correspondence:
- show your interest with the targeted venue with no particular flattery
- select and point out formally your significant live background
- be accurate and concise
- embed relevant links (audio, video, electronic press kit)
- record, track and follow your correspondence with care
> make the most of networking opportunities (music conferences like Sonic Visions for example):
Avoid wandering around with a pile of CDs (be creative & pragmatic regarding your promotional material) and schedule some meetings with targeted professionals.
> be polite, be on time, be responsive, adapt your social skills
Of course, contracts are always appreciated to settle the terms of a show between the act and the concert organizer, although in case of emerging acts email or oral agreements are often used.
As the artist, you should be aware of the following:
> make sure that the concert organizer pays the foreign tax for foreign acts (which lies at 15-30% of the fee). Fees under 250.- EUR are tax exempt.
> make sure that the organizer pays the German collecting society GEMA
> make sure that the organizer pays the Artist Social Security Fund - Künstlersozialkasse (mandatory for foreign acts as well, although those can never claim this money)
In Germany, the act is always being paid as a whole, the artists & technicians are thus not hired individually, like in France.
As you are leaving your homebase for a new territory, make sure your gigs are properly promoted, or else no one will notice you are around!
> work with the right promoters, which are into your style and have the credibility to sell your show
> have a decent EPK (electronic press kit), including contact information, short & extensive biographies, links to 2-3 representative tracks, link to a live video, high resolution photographs in different formats
> at a certain point of your career, you might want to consider hiring a professional PR agent for a specific territory you are touring in
> be clever: if you have a promotion deal for a certain territory already, with your label for ex., don't spend your money on extra PR/promo work. See what your label can do
> try to identify music, lifestyle and cultural blogs, check their contents and reputation. Remember that they reach a quality audience.
These practical info sheets have been edited in collaboration with our partners from the Multipistes network. The information contained in these sheets is based on the various presentations held during the "Oberkorn, it’s a small town - Touring in the Greater Region" workshop during the Sonic Visions Music Conference in 2014.