• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

New royalties charges threaten Berlin clubs

The Local · 5 Jul 2012, 08:23

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.

Story continues below…

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
 'One dead and two injured' in Germany machete attack
News channel NTV said there were scenes of panic in the city centre following the attack. Photo: DPA

A 21-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman and injured two people with a machete Sunday in the southwest German city of Reutlingen in an incident local police said did not bear the hallmarks of a "terrorist attack".

Munich gunman planned attacks for one year: officials
Vigils continue in Munich to commemorate the victims, seven of whom were teenagers. Photo: DPA

The teenage gunman who killed nine people in Munich on Friday had been planning his attack for a year, according to German authorities.

Germany grapples with enigma of Munich gunman
A debate is already underway as to whether Germany's gun laws, which are already strict, should be tightened further. Photo: AFP

Investigators were seeking clues on Sunday into the mind of gunman David Ali Sonboly, the teen author of one of Germany's bloodiest killing sprees.

Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,742
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd