PopKomm Ate My Brain, and other music news

Hmpf, I thought I’d have a lot more to say about PopKomm this year, but it was almost spectacularly uneventful. The trade show was put into larger quarters, which meant there were larger stands, but except for Sony/BMG, which had a huge, almost empty area all done in sparking white, none were terribly notable. There were almost no freebies (this is usually when I recharge my cigarette-lighter supply, but no luck this year), and almost no gimmicks, although the light-up martini glasses some Swedish company was using for their drinks were cool.

Overall, it seems attendance at the conference and trade-fair was down, and a number of countries whose export agencies are usually quite visible — most notably Ireland — were missing. For those of you who are interested, the export agencies are, obviously, government bodies in charge of promoting goods made in a given country to potential customers in the outside world. In a number of countries, particularly in Europe, pop music is perceived to be one of these potential exports, which means that a band or performer working abroad can, at least theoretically, get some support from the export agency, since any success will mean money for live shows and/or records coming into the country. It’s a good idea, and has worked well for Holland and France, to name just two.

In fact, the main event during PopKomm was one that didn’t happen there: Steve Jobs came to Berlin to hold a press conference announcing the iPhone partnership with T Mobile, and to talk about iTunes’ German store. (Hey, Steve, what about that Apple Store that’s been supposed to be opening here for the last five or six years?) This event is such a natural to have happen at PopKomm that I can only wonder why it didn’t. Has PopKomm got so little visibility in the international tech and music worlds that nobody at Apple knew about it? Is it visible but considered unimportant? It’s inconceivable that an event like that would ignore SXSW, the folks I was working for at PopKomm, because events like this are where the early adopters are — not to mention that iTunes is a music-biz behemoth.

Which brings me to yet another gripe, although not a PopKomm one, for the most part. Once again, the list of attendees with their contact information was on a CD-ROM, which is a bad idea because it’s so easily scanned by spammers, and once again that CD-ROM was Windows only. So was the DVD given away in the bags, called See the Music! Berlin’s Music Industry in a 3D City Model, developed for music-in-berlin.de by Berlin Partner, the Berlin KommunikationsForum e.V., the Senat’s Department for Economics, Technology, and Women’s issues, the Senat’s Department for Urban Development, and funds from the European Regional Development Fund. Any of whom could have walked around the room and noticed the disproportionate numbers of Macintosh computers in use, and most of whom, I would think, would also know that it doesn’t cost any more to put together something like this in a hybrid form. A complete and total waste of money the city doesn’t have. Which I’d probably also be saying if I could play the damn thing.

As always, I skipped the live music in the evenings and went home to rest up for my 7-hour shift at the SXSW stand during the day. PopKomm never brings in anything I want to see anyway (hell, I’m not interested in 90% of the stuff at SXSW, either; aging does have its up-side), and this year was certainly no different.

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Meanwhile, Tesla, whose troubles I outlined earlier, has decided to fight back. Here’s the latest press release from them, orthography and all intact:

call to action

in light of the current threat to t e s l a ‘s existence, we call upon artists, audience, and colleagues, to communicate to the state of berlin what the city risks to lose with this decision. learn more about the current situation at http://www.tesla-berlin.de , write a letter or an e mail to mr andre schmitz, the state secretary for cultural affairs, and please remember to send a copy to t e s l a , as well, for our documentation. you will find the necessary addresses at the end of this mail.

rather than generic protest letters, we particularly encourage qualified statements on the meaning and importance of media art, on the need for venues for artistic production, presentation, and reflection, on support for media art in berlin, and on t e s l a ‘s role in both a local and international context. in the coming months, we will increase our efforts to attain support from the state of berlin for this branch of the arts, and we hope that this action will make it clear that a real need and a broad interest exists.

we thank you for your support. we hope that this campaign will reach those responsible for cultural politics and demonstrate to them the vital need for a competent center for art and media in berlin. please forward this call trough your mailing list. please address any questions to moritz von rappard (pr and press) at 030. 247 49 788 or public@tesla-berlin.de.

andreas broeckmann, detlev schneider, carsten seiffarth

Herrn Staatssekretär André Schmitz
beim Regierenden Bürgermeister von Berlin
Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten
Brunnenstraße 188 – 190
10119 Berlin
andre.schmitz@senwfk.verwalt-berlin.de

t e s l a
media > art < laboratory
podewils’sches palais
klosterstraße 68
10179 berlin
public@tesla-berlin.de

I gotta say, I wish them well, but I’ve been here long enough to suspect this protest will be given polite attention and then ignored.

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