As you are reading this, it is old news that Popkomm 2009 [link broken, 2016-03-10], (still) Germany’s most widely known music conference, has been cancelled.
Originally, I intended to go (and I really hoped to see Andrew Dubber over there) yet I began to hesitate as soon as I read the Preliminary Programme 2009 as of 11 May.
Apart from the fact that the so-called “Programme” hardly named any speaker potential issues and sessions were only sketched. Even a preliminary program should have had more. Only two persons were actually announced to participate in panels or sessions respectively: Lawyers.
Not to be disrespective, but I think it shows a certain undertone that appeared present if you read between the lines. There’s lots of crisis. Even some half-hearted effort at showing humour – “The banker always rings twice!” (exclamation mark by Popkomm – I wonder if they try to type emoticons with caps locked just to make sure they’re large enough). Actually, they even explicitly referenced The Pirate Bay when they called the meeting lounge The Data Bay. They strove towards it. But they didn’t make it. And I missed hands-on topics towards online business solutions.
While Dr. Ralf Kleinhenz, Popkomm GmbH Managing Director, has been rather vague as to why Popkomm 2009 [link broken, 2016-03-10] was cancelled, others claim obvious yet quite different reasons.
Dieter Gorny, one of the founders of Popkomm, and chairman of German’s Body of Music Industries BVMI, said “many companies can not afford to take part at Popkomm due to online thievery”. By the way, he is a true fan of France’s three strikes policy and demands the same for Germany, needless to say.
“Nonsense”. That’s Tim Renner‘s comment on Gorny’s statement. Renner has been CEO of Universal Music Germany (2001-2004) and is the founder of Motor Entertainment. Popkomm had been always been a place for the music industry to “indulge in celebrating itself”. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk Renner pointed out that the industry had missed out on the opportunity to instrumentalise Internet.
And here’s what I liked most:
“If you want to be successful in economy you have to be at least as good as your competitor. And it doesn’t matter whether your competitor is acting illegally.” (Tim Renner)
The lack of maintenance at Popkomm’s site, as well as the lack of service (two newsletters) and advertising in advance make me feel rather strange about it. A reasonable conclusion to be drawn could be that the management has been working towards the cancellation. Those who try to benefit from cancelling Popkomm are Gorny (BVMI), the Majors, and collection societies like GEMA. “If it wasn’t for online piracy, we could have given you Popkomm”. That’s the core claim to be communicated. Gorny tries to win the musicians’ vote against “lost sales” due to so-called piracy and most of all, the goal is to get politics to work for the Majors’ matter. Innovative business models and concepts that make use of the advantages of online media clearly are not on their list of favourites.
But, they should expect the cancellation to backfire.
As soon as I heard of the fact Popkomm was cancelled, I thought it to be a perfect opportunity for an impromptu event by the concept of Cologne Commons, a Creative Commons conference and festival just staged two weeks ago in Cologne.
Rumours had it that an alternative event was in the planning. Tentatively known as #unkomm, motor.de yesterday announced all2gethernow! (a2n) to be staged at exactly the same time Popkomm 2009 should have taken place. Initiators of the new event are newthinking communications, Motor Entertainment and RadialSystem V.