• Germany's news in English
 
New royalties charges threaten Berlin clubs
Photo: DPA

New royalties charges threaten Berlin clubs

Published: 05 Jul 2012 08:23 GMT+02:00

The head of the public-private marketing group Visit Berlin, Burkhard Kieker, said the German capital's renowned nightlife remained one of its biggest draws and warned against a planned hike in levies on discos.

GEMA, the country's feared music rights agency which has a reputation in the industry as one of Europe's most aggressive in collecting royalties, announced in April plans to impose a 10-percent levy on all cover charges for bars and clubs as part of a reworking of its usual fee structure.

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association estimates that GEMA payments will rise as a result by an average of 400 to 600 percent from January 1 and warned that many locations will go out of business.

Kieker said he was not worried about Berlin losing its appeal to ravers from across Europe and around the world, but said club operators may have to get creative like in the years just after the Wall fell.

"One-third of the people who visit us here in the city also come because of the nightlife," he said.

"GEMA - they are robber barons, driven by lawyers who ask what can we get and then grab it. But if I know Berlin, it will go back to an era like the 1990s when we had a lot of illegal clubs and where the GEMA agent will have to hunt for the door to get into the cellar to find out what music is playing."

He added: "That's Berlin - the scene is like quicksilver and if it doesn't work in one place, it will go to another."

GEMA argues that the royalties are essential to help artists, labels and publishers in the ailing music industry and calls the levy "fair."

Last month hundreds of clubs across the country let the decks fall silent for five minutes on a Saturday night to protest GEMA's plans and a petition campaign has already registered 200,000 signatures.

Berlin's clubs including Berghain and Watergate have won a world-class reputation among ravers for top DJs, remarkable locations and parties that start late and end well into the next day.

After the Berlin Wall tumbled in 1989, the techno scene had a heyday in the post-industrial spaces of the former communist east and help feed a fascination with a city that has fuelled a lasting tourism boom.

The most popular draws were often in squatted buildings and hopped to a new location as soon as the operators were evicted. But in recent years they have become more established.

Last year Berlin had 22.5 million overnight stays and Kieker said the city expected to rival Paris with its tally of around 30 million by 2018.

AFP/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:46 July 5, 2012 by DoubleDTown
I take issue with Kieker's assertion that GEMA is "driven by lawyers". Lawyers are only tools, not policy drivers. What drives GEMA's lust for money is politicians that like spending it on all the social programs those ravers love -- e.g. essentially free university education.
09:02 July 5, 2012 by jpl82
@ doubledtown

You must be a troll, GEMA is a private organisation. They spend the money as they see fit and they're not known for being generious.
09:30 July 5, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ jpl82

GEMA is a private organization that probably pays a 50-percent levy on its profits to taxes that pay for social programs. Just like any corporate tax, the added cost gets passed along to the consumer. Businesses don't pay taxes, consumers do. As much fun as it is for idiots to revel in high corporate tax rates for Evil Corporations to pay for the Social Netz. The fact is, it just means an overall increase in the cost of living for everybody.
11:26 July 5, 2012 by chicagolive
Well as being a recording artist and a DJ GEMA is the worst trash on the planet. Half the time the artist that they are so called protecting don't even get the money that is owed to them. Suing is like trying the sue the police here nearly impossible.
11:27 July 5, 2012 by DocEllis
This will work for clubs.

Free entrance, you must buy at least 3 drinks to cover the money not collected at the door. Cute uh.
12:10 July 6, 2012 by MunichMag
@UncleVanya

The problem is GEMA want the money whether music being played is GEMA protected or not, hence the levy on all entrance fees regardless of what's being played.
15:21 July 8, 2012 by function key
it makes sense to collect money for works being played, but gema does not do that. those behind hte music played at the clubs do not receive the money because the system is designed to reward those that are already at the top of mainstream charts. why should mainstream song writers receive money when non of their music is being played at these clubs?

why does the president of gema earn more money than the kanzlerin?

furthermore, gema is charging on the basis of everyone paying full price admission and a full house, not just a full dancefloor. Tiered admission prices and acoustic deadzones do not matter to them.

never forget, gema is the same organization that sought ot have kindergartens pay when the kids sing happy birthday
Today's headlines
LG offices raided over suspected vandalism
A Sumsung washing machine. Photo: DPA

LG offices raided over suspected vandalism

South Korean prosecutors raided the Seoul headquarters of LG Electronics on Friday following allegations that the firm's executives vandalised their rival Samsung's washing machines at a trade fair in Germany, company officials said. READ  

Neuer cautious over Ballon d'Or prospects
Photo: DPA

Neuer cautious over Ballon d'Or prospects

Germany's World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on Friday played down his prospects of securing the World Player of the Year award over holder Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. READ  

News Feature
No Boxing Day football tradition for Germans
Germans football fans will have nothing to watch this Boxing Day Photo: DPA

No Boxing Day football tradition for Germans

Defying national stereotypes, it is British footballers who will be braving the freezing cold to take to the pitch on Boxing Day, whilst Germany's players are already sunning themselves on their winter break until the end of January. READ  

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement
Demonstrators protest against PEGIDA. Photo: DPA

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement

Business leaders, the political class and average Germans are pushing back against a growing anti-immigrant movement, saying it threatens the values and image the country fought hard to establish since the war. READ  

German president urges refugee compassion
Photo: DPA

German president urges refugee compassion

Germany's president appealed in a Christmas message for compassion and openness towards refugees coming to the country, which is grappling with a growing anti-Islam movement. READ  

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon
A female homing pigeon. Photo: DPA

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon

A breeder in Düsseldorf has offered a €10,000 reward after thieves stole a homing pigeon worth €150,000 from his aviary. READ  

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit
The vestibule of the Schloss Charlottenburg, which reopens on Boxing Day Photo: DPA

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit

The royal palace of Fredrick the Great in Berlin is to fully reopen to visitors on Boxing Day after a 4.5 million euro refit. READ  

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad
Bertolt Brecht and his salad. Photo: DPA

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad

Bertolt Brecht's statue in front of the Berliner Ensemble theatre was splattered with potato salad by pranksters early on Tuesday morning, in a protest against supposed gentrification of the capital by wealthy southerners. READ  

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire
The ferris wheel at Alexa Christmas Market where a man fell to his death last week Photo: DPA

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire

A blaze at one of Berlin's biggest Christmas markets has caused locals to wonder if the place is cursed. READ  

JobTalk Germany: Entrepreneur series
'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'
Taulia co-founder Bertram Meyer. Photo: DPA

'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'

In our weekly feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Bertram Meyer, one of the four German co-founders of Taulia. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,162
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd