Goals, Focuses of Support, and the Future of the Initiative Musik
Music isn’t just a cultural asset. It’s also an important factor in our country’s economy and image. For this reason, it was important to initiate the dialogue that lasted nearly two years between Bernd Neumann, Germany’s federal minister for culture and media, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and the music industry.
Since the launch of the Initiative Musik, I’ve been working alongside a supervisory board made up of six representatives from the world of politics as well as six from the music industry. For me, the decisive issue is that we work together to ensure that the Initiative Musik’s essential goal is firmly lodged in the public’s consciousness. That goal is the recognition that music has an inestimable value for our country, that it makes an enormous contribution to our gross national product, and that it is therefore of great economic importance to the nation.
Stopping the Drop in Value
Over the last decade, the value given to the music industry has been eroded on a daily basis to the point that it has gradually become invisible. One factor in this decline has been the economic slump in the music industry, whose digital sales can no longer match up with the revenues derived from the sales of audio recording and playback devices. As part of the process of digitalization, the value and thereby the esteem individuals give to copyrights has fallen in a bottomless abyss. The Initiative Musik’s goal is to fight back. It will do so by building structures that will draw music out of its shadowy existence, where it is neglected and underappreciated, and recharge it with new values. We plan to have a hand in seeing to it that musicians and their achievements are firmly anchored in the consciousness of music lovers and consumers. We will have structures that allow them to make real money again, rather than just peanuts.
In 2008, we have € 2 million at our disposal - €1 million from 2007 and €1 million from 2008. It’s not much when you compare it with the highly subsidized film industry. But it is a start and it’s not just limited to the funding provided by the Federal Government Commission for Culture and Media (BKM), the German Collecting Society for Performance Rights (GVL), and the German Music Authors’ Society (GEMA). On the other hand, we also want to see a growth in the support budgets from the political sphere and the music industry. Dear German companies, listen to our call. We are the people who help you when it comes to supporting the professional growth of the younger generations. Supplement our means, and let us speak with your departments responsible for corporate social responsibility. As Goethe said himself, “Wherefore ever ramble on? For the good is lying near.”
What do we do with the money?
We put it straight toward supporting contemporary music, from poetry to rock. Given that classical music from Germany is already an export powerhouse, we have intentionally excluded it from our support. Take this one example: Tickets for the Berlin Philharmonic’s debut concert in Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall were sold-out two months before the concert – at $360 per ticket! And such high prices were paid, despite the fact that the United States has no ticket subsidies. In Germany, the rule of thumb is that a standing-room-only ticket for a David Bowie concert costs the same amount as a highly subsidized seat at a concert with a 90-person first-class orchestra. Is that an equitable distribution? Is classical music more “cultural” than pop? No!
Two Support Programs
The Initiative Musik invests its money in two support programs that, to put it briefly, only scratch the music industry’s existing structures. Using these programs, we aim to support the crème de la crème of Germany’s next generation of music professionals. It’s our goal to help Germany’s next Duffy keep on track and gain an international foothold.