The organizer of the Open Air St.Gallen also changes hands abroad. The pressure in the industry is enormous.
Organizing music festivals is an expensive – and risky business. If the audience stays away because the weather may not be right, it can mean financial ruin. Because the fixed costs for infrastructure and big bands are high. Accordingly, organizers have repeatedly merged in recent years in order to better cushion the risks.
The “Gadget ABC Entertainment Group” is now undergoing a major merger. Also included is «Wepromote», a group of several organizers and organizers of the St. Gallen open air. A sensible step, Wepromote boss Christoph Huber is convinced: «It is a stabilization. In a larger company, it helps to ensure its continued existence. »
It doesn’t get any easier for a small festival like the cheerful open air.
It sounds similar with Eric Kramer, the founder of “Gadget”. The agency has a number of Swiss musicians under contract. «The market is getting tighter, bigger and bigger companies are coming. In a large network, you have a lot more options. »
“The decisions are made in Switzerland”
The strongest partner in the new network is likely to be “ABC Production”. It is controlled by the German entertainment group “CTS Eventim”. The latter also has a 50 percent stake in the ticket provider “Ticketcorner”.
This group has great market power in the music business, says Michael Schuler, head of the Pop and Rock editorial department at Radio SRF: «CTS Eventim produces concerts in 21 countries. It has market and audience data that can be evaluated for Switzerland. »
André Bechir, the influential boss of ABC so far, does not believe that the Swiss festivals are now controlled directly from abroad. «The decisions are made in Switzerland. There is a lot to do, but we will do it. »
The cheerful open air in Zofingen is one of the smaller, so far independent festivals. Its boss Christoph Bill observes the new concert group with mixed feelings. «This provider creates a conglomeration in terms of ticketing, events, booking and management. It won’t be easier for a small festival like the cheerful open air. »
He relies on niches, similar to beer: the large Swiss breweries were also bought up by large foreign companies – and there was space for many small breweries.
Are certain bands disadvantaged?
Andreas Ryser, the president of «Indiesuisse», the association of small, independent music providers, is more skeptical. “Until now, a booking agency has offered a band to a festival. But if the booking agency and the festival are managed by the same company, it is logical that these bands have better cards. »
SRF music specialist Schuler assumes that there will still be room for good Swiss bands. “But the new companies can dominate the price even better, that is, the fee for the artists.”
That means: Thanks to the event giant, more big international bands will play on the festival stages. And many small Swiss bands only play for a sandwich. It is still unclear whether and how this new dominance will also affect ticket prices for the festivals.