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Global Economy

The concert industry has 'Long Covid'

The Cologne band "Kasalla" has long since filled entire stadiums with their Kölsch rock. Most of the last concerts and tours in Germany and neighboring countries were sold out. In June, the four Cologne musicians played in front of 41,000 cheering people – a concert made up for which tickets had been sold before the pandemic.

But now the Kölschrockers had to cancel a tour planned for autumn. "The reason is simple and just as painful: we had sold too few tickets in cities like Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, where the band played to full houses before the pandemic," says lead singer Bastian Campmann.

A heavy blow. Nevertheless, the band decides to go offensive with it. "Of course we struggled with each other for a long time, because the bottom line is that it's also a loss of image. But now we want to communicate this openly because we know that it's the same in many places in the industry," he says.

Smaller bands have problems

Like "Kasalla" it's the same with other groups. Small and medium-sized bands in particular are troubled by poor ticket sales. The impression of the event summer 2022 with full stadiums is deceptive, explains the music journalist Linus Volkmann: "If you're not a really big number or have a lot of hype, you're pretty much left in the dark."

The industry is not doing well, says Jens Michow from the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry. It was hit harder in the pandemic than other sectors of the economy and is only recovering slowly. "It gives the impression that everything is quite normal because we see full concerts and stadiums, but these are concerts whose tickets were sold before the pandemic and were calculated on the basis of the price level at the time. The organizers don't make much money from it, because Since then, everything has become more expensive. Unfortunately, all the new concerts that are held are not sold out," says Michow.

In addition to the artists and musicians, bookers, tour guides, roadies and stage hands are also suffering. A whole branch of culture threatens to falter. Other sectors of the economy have recovered and are working as they did before the pandemic, but not the cultural sector, says Michow. The aid will now expire in the summer, but the industry will actually continue to be dependent on financial support.

retreat into the private sphere

There are many reasons for the sluggish ticket sales: Concern about rising prices plays a role, as does the fear of getting infected, and leisure behavior has changed, says psychiatrist Volker Busch, who has been dealing with the consequences of the pandemic. People hesitated and didn't like to commit themselves. "We've also learned to set it up at home." Many people have discovered streaming platforms and retreated into private life. "The cultural scene is in a kind of long-Covid syndrome and hasn't fully recovered yet. We're in a state of exhaustion after that, and it will take a while."

In an urgent appeal, the Hamburg artist Rocko Schamoni warns of the extinction of species in culture: he fears that it could primarily affect smaller groups and artists. "They go first because they don't have any reserves. Get off the sofa!" is his appeal. The musicians of the Cologne band "Kasalla" hope that things will actually go back to the way they used to be. Because otherwise the entire culture industry would have a huge problem.

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