BLVTH © Lisa Meinen

Press Release
21 June 2021


Reeperbahn Festival builds digital transatlantic bridge to New York


As part of A2IM’s Indie Week, the largest conference of independent music companies in North America, Reeperbahn Festival International enabled a delegation of 40 participants from the European music industry to access to the American Association of Independent Music’s (A2IM) conference, even under pandemic conditions, which is otherwise only accessible by its members.  

For the sixth time, the New York Edition, which was supported by the Federal Foreign Office and ran from 14 to 17 June, offered the delegation the opportunity to take part in panel discussions, matchmaking sessions, company visits and workshops which not only enabled them to gain deeper insights into the US music market, but also to effectively strengthen their US networks through tailored meetings.  

The organizers immediately kicked things off with a highlight and presented a hybrid showcase at the club Knust in Hamburg with three acts from Europe and the USA. The German artists Albertine Sarges (GER) and BLVTH (GER) performed live on site, while the US artist Margaret Glaspy (USA) joined via video. The showcase reached 560,000 viewers on Facebook. The look behind the scenes of renowned key players of the New York music and creative scene, which is always much appreciated by the delegation, was of course not to be missed this year.  

The Entertainment label 300, founded by ex-Warner Music top executive Lyor Cohen, and the Secretly Group, who are co-responsible for the success of artists like Antony and the Johnsons or Yoko Ono among others, also opened their gates and invited to a digital visit.  

As part of the A2IM Indie Week program, the panel presented by Reeperbahn Festival was dedicated to one of the most challenging topics of our time: “How the climate crisis will hit the music sector”. Moderated by the German journalist Emily Whigham, Jacob Bilabel (THEMA1), Helen Smith (Executive Chairperson at IMPALA), Horst Weidenmüller (CEO of K7 Music, Board Member at IMPALA) and Tanner Watt (Director of Partnerships at REVERB) discussed the economic effects the climate crisis will have on the individual sub-markets of the music industry. They discussed not only the possible effects on touring and the festival business, but also how streaming and especially blockchain technology might influence energy consumption.  

 Following the destinations Beijing, Nashville and Pan-Africa, the New York Edition now concludes the networking events for the first half of 2021. The continuation will follow on 25 to 27 November with the Johannesburg Edition focusing on ACCES (Music in Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases).   

From 21 to 23 April, Reeperbahn Festival immersed itself alongside a 40-person delegation of representatives from the German and European music industry in the Chinese music, tech and creative industries at the Hamburg club Nochtspeicher.

In cooperation with WISE – The Future Festival & Think Tank and with the support of the Federal Foreign Office, the Hamburg delegates presented a broad program as part of the first guest performance abroad this year to facilitate an economic and cultural dialogue with the music scene in China. Due to the pandemic, the delegation visit to Beijing had to be cancelled, instead taking place as a digital/hybrid event.

The official kick-off on 21 April was followed by digital company visits to the leading consulting agency for the Chinese music industry, Kanjian, and the globally acting company Live Nation in Beijing. Here, decision-makers gave the European delegation insights into their work and into the Chinese music and creative industries in general. Digital video tours offered an authentic look directly into the office life of modern Chinese companies and gave the delegates an opportunity to ask the very informative company representatives a plethora of questions.

A hybrid showcase event featuring the up-and-coming European and Chinese acts Lie Ning (GER) and Bohan Phoenix (CHN) was broadcast live from the Nochtspeicher on the evening of the first day. Due to one of the band members testing positive to COVID-19, Ava Vegas (GER) was unfortunately unable to perform in person. However, a live interview along with her last appearance from this year's Eurosonic were integrated into the stream, which was broadcasted live on Facebook and drew upwards of 55,000 viewers.

On Thursday, digital talks and panels on the topics of “music marketing in China, touring and festivals in China” and “future trends in music and tech” were all part of the session’s program plan.

Top executives Jane Polubotko (international marketing manager, Kanjian / Music Ally) and Shan Wie (chief director, Midi Festival) were part of the subsequent Q&A session, which had to be extended due to the high level of participation.

With a total of five additional digital stations in Nashville, Pan-Africa and New York until June 2021, as well as a two further planned face-to-face events in Los Angeles and Dar es Salaam in fall, Reeperbahn Festival International program is more extensive this year than it has ever been.



Statements of members of the New York delegation:

Jacob Sylvester Bilabel, Founder Green Music Initiative & Everywh2ere Hydrogen, Germany

"With the industry in forced full stop in these crazy pandemic times it became even clearer that we have to build back better if we want a sustainable future for the sector. These needed transformations call for a cross sectoral  approach getting all the brains, hands and hearts on the table. Reeperbahn Festival ́s cooperation with A2IM offered great opportunities to kick-start these processes from a transatlantic perspective. The digital delivery of the different formats was flawless and gave me even more opportunities to get in contact with new, innovative initiatives from the US than if these meetings had taken place in real life. Thank you A2IM and Reeperbahn Festival!“


Simone Schiborr, Senior Manager Editorial & Label Relations Deezer, Germany

“This is now my second time as a Reeperbahn Festival International delegate at the A2IM Indie Week. I was already impressed by the professional implementation of the conference last year, which had to take place virtually at short notice due to the pandemic. I was once again amazed to see how Reeperbahn Festival managed to organize the digital company visits this year. I found the insights into the work of US labels particularly exciting. I was amazed by the matchmaking sessions at A2IM Indie Week, where I got to meet members of the international music industry. Thank you, dear Reeperbahn Festival team, for the wide view across the usual borders!”  


Victor Mihailescu, Founder Underdog Records, Loud Biscuit, Romania

"For a long time, I thought Reeperbahn Festival to be some kind of unattainable wild-dream, I could not fathom becoming a delegate.  
When I finally mustered the courage to apply, we were at the start of the pandemic and I thought to myself: when things are at their worst, that is when we need to get out of the comfort zone and reach out, unite, ask people for help. I needed to feel part of the industry and get out of the sidelines, and where better to get involved if not at Reeperbahn Festival?   
The digital event was for me a two-sided premiere, being the first international music industry conference I ever attended, but also a digital one. It was flawless! Actually, I imagine that a physical event would have meant missing out on information or events, which was definitely not the case here - I got to witness every panel, in crisp audio quality and meeting people I otherwise would have been to shy to approach. Win-win for introverts like me. The impact the whole conference has had on me and my activities since then was profound: I finally gave in and started manufacturing and distributing vinyls (with great success), started a music publisher to complement the label side (also with positive acclaim by the media), and formed business relations with international colleagues I would have probably never met otherwise. In this ever-changing music and business landscape, I am curious what new information I will discover and where this Edition will take me one year from now. Thanks for everything!”   


Vincent Wilms, CEO cloudshaper, Belgium

“I joined Reeperbahn Festival New York, because one of the artists on my roster has more fans in the USA than in Belgium (where cloudshaper is based). This event is a perfect way to find the right contacts that are very hard to reach as a company based in Belgium. The delegates database, the company visits, and the networking opportunities are gifts for the future. I did a few digital conferences last month, and I must say that the Reeperbahn Festival events are always very down to earth, social, and splendidly organized and coordinated. The panels and company visits are always top edge and share the exact values and contacts I was looking for.“


Kaylee Wesley-Pearson, owner Happy Duck Label, Denmark

“I joined Reeperbahn Festival New York to get inspired, learn and connect with people from all over the world.  The digital platform made it super easy to reach out to the other delegates, and the seminars and showcases also worked really well digitally. I am very happy to have been part of this edition; I learned a lot, connected with a ton of people whilst saving money and the environment as it was all digital.” 

Reeperbahn Festival Website

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