– A no longer quite so new start to Danish-German music cooperation
The Danish NEUSTART project has been running for almost two years and is soon coming to its conclusion so far. It has been a collaboration between Danish music organisations to improve connections and Danish artists’ opportunities south of the border.
It all started shortly before 2022 with a Danish state visit to Berlin, where Crown Prince Frederik had a cold beer with the director of Musicboard Berlin at the venue Festsaal Kreuzberg. On behalf of the Danish genre organisations, Music Export Denmark and the Danish Embassy in Berlin, the then Minister of Culture Ane Halsboe welcomed a new start to Danish-German collaboration on residencies, knowledge sharing, networking events and concerts.
So, what have we, the Danish genre organisations, MXD, and the cultural section at the Danish embassy in Berlin, learnt about Germany over the past two years? And what have been highlights so far? Find out in four tips for those who want to do something with music in Germany.
Tip number 1: Create local partnerships
Whether you work alone as an artist or as part of an organisation, it pays to focus locally and build few select relationships. Germany is big. With 84 million people spread across 16 states and many large cities, NEUSTART’s experience is that it pays to focus where your community is, rather than spreading your energy too thinly.
Partnerships can be between organisations, as in the examples below, but if you’re an artist or working alone, it might also be the right strategy for you: choose those with whom you share an interest – show that you’re willing to invest time and resources in a collaboration and stick with it.
Art Music Denmark and Initiative Neue Musik
For the second year, Art Music Denmark has cooperated with Initiative Neue Musik in Berlin. Danish composers and artists have received direct advice locally from Berlin on how best to enter and further their careers in Germany.
A study trip of Danish composers and ensemble leaders with German colleagues went again in 2023 to the Month of Contemporary Music in Berlin, where they got a solid introduction to local new music and sound art communities and the opportunity to get to know people.
This year, a three-day residency between Danish and German resident artists was also organised at Akademie der Künste in collaboration with Initiative Neue Musik. Here, the selected participants have been working on climate and sustainability in art. The work was recently presented in Berlin at the Time to Listen conference, at Kulturmødet Mors and at Struer Tracks.
Future Female Sounds and Berlin Clubcommission
Throughout 2022, the Danish Embassy in Berlin, with NEUSTART funding, has supported the Danish organisation Future Female Sounds in organising DJ workshops for women and gender minorities in Berlin. The latest edition of their very popular workshop was held at the central interest organisation Berlin Clubcommission, which is responsible for distributing public cultural funds to its more than 250 member organisations. The workshop culminated in a Future Female Sounds club night at Tresor – a techno club with a central and historic role in Berlin.
Tip number 2: Invite the Germans to visit
The amount of German visits to Denmark in 2023 may tell you how much of a priority it is for the genre organisations and MXD to showcase Danish music in its native element. Showcasing Danish bands at the major industry festivals in Germany is a great opportunity, but it can also risk being drowned out by a great number of other international bands who have been offered the same opportunity. Therefore, it can also make sense to invite selected German industry professionals to come to Denmark. Even if you are a smaller player without an organisation behind you, it may be valuable for you to invite a selected partner to visit.
In 2023, NEUSTART organisations have had delegations from Germany visit in connection with:
Nordic Folk Alliance (Tempi)
Folk Baltica (Tempi)
Network meeting for Danish composers with Initiative Neue Musik (Art Music Denmark)
SPOT Festival (Tempi, ROSA, JazzDanmark)
German trade mission to Copenhagen (MXD, ROSA)
Visitor programmes for Aarhus and Copenhagen Jazz festivals (JazzDanmark)
Danish Music Awards blues (ROSA)
Struer Tracks (Art Music Denmark)
Tønder Festival (Tempi)
Kulturmødet Mors (Art Music Denmark)
The rest of the year, Danish artists and performers can expect German company:
In September, ROSA is organising the songwriting camp On Track in collaboration with Aarhus Calling.
JazzDanmark will invite you to a knowledge sharing meeting on the German market in collaboration with Deutsche Jazzunion.
Tempi will be hosting an industry day at the Resonator Festival in Odense with one of Germany’s leading sync experts.
And in December the NEUSTART collaboration will conclude with a joint theme day in Copenhagen where the learnings from NEUSTART will be summed up.
Tip number 3: Radio is important in Germany
When Art Music Denmark organised a network meeting for Danish composers at Musikhuset Copenhagen last year, German music professor Holger Schulze emphasised how crucial radio is for Germans. They listen to it a lot and are influenced by what both major and minor stations play. This year, MXD has again made radio a priority, after last year’s success in organising a live session with Lydmor on Radio Eins.
MXD has found another strong partner in Berlin’s FluxFM, which in October will host a live broadcast, large-scale Danish showcase evening curated by MXD, ROSA and Tempi.
Tempi also had radio high on the agenda when they got Danish band Víík the showcase at Rudolstadt festival – Europe’s largest roots and folk music festival. The festival also hosted the European Broadcasting Union, which provided a massive presence of European national radio stations, including DR P2, which recorded the concert in addition to German stations.
Smaller online radio stations and community radio also play a significant role in Germany, such as Berlin’s Refuge Worldwide, which earlier this year hosted Future Female Sounds’ director, Tia Korpe, and their local instructor in Berlin for an hour-long conversation and DJ set.
If you’re heading to Germany for a tour or a show, we strongly recommend that you find stations and radio journalists, both major and minor, and see if they can find space for you on air.
FluxFM, where MXD together with Tempi and ROSA showcases Danish bands at the Bergfest event in October 2023
Tip number four: Create music with locals
A great way for musicians to enter the German music scene is to make music with someone who already has a presence in Germany. Doing productions and performing with locally based colleagues helps draw on their relationships with the audience and the industry. The NEUSTART collaboration has worked towards making this happen, for example, with ROSA’s songwriting camp BauSongs in Berlin, when for the second time in collaboration with Tempi and local songwriters, Danish and German participants met in an intensive, folk high school-inspired programme where they have worked together to write new music. The hope is that the songwriters will want to continue working together after the camp ends.
JazzDanmark recently orchestrated the Copenhagen collective ILK to host one of the stages during Cologne Jazzweek, including improv sessions and mutual performances of work with German musicians. Tempi also brought Justine Hald Boesen and German Gerri Christiansen together to compose this year’s festival song during Folk Baltica in the spring.
The NEUSTART collaboration has been able to make a difference in these and other ways. But If you’re a musician or work in music and want to get through to Germany, this is one of our top tips:
– Find someone in Germany who has access to the scene you’re interested in and make a creative collaboration with them. That way, you’ll be recognised locally and the audience will have a stronger entry point to get to know you.
All in all:
– There is probably a lot more to say about how you can best become part of a music scene in Germany. Should you want to do just so, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to put you in touch with the right person in the genre organisations for a chat about how you can move forward. Also keep an eye out for events on neustartmusik.org and on our Instagram.
And why would you want to do that? Because Germany is the world’s third or fourth largest music market (depending on who is counting). There are venues and stages for all genres and a lively cultural debate where music plays a major role in current affairs. Music matters to Germans. At the same time, as a neighbouring country, it’s easy and climate responsible to travel frequently and maintain relationships and presence.
But don’t Germans have enough in German music? Do they even bother listening to Danish artists? Yes, they do. You have to remember that Germany is in the centre of Europe and borders several other language- and cultural areas. They have are used to outside influence. And they are particularly favourable towards Scandinavia and Denmark’s creativity in mixing and developing genres.
On behalf of the genre organisations Art Music Denmark, ROSA, Tempi and JazzDanmark, MXD and the Danish Embassy in Berlin, we wish you all the best on your adventure south of the border.