With both attendance and interest well above previous years, the Popkomm trade fair in Berlin paints a picture of a German entertainment industry on the rise.
Popkomm is both an industry showcase and a music festival
The Popkomm wound to a close Friday. This year's slogan "Meeting Music," was the vision behind the event which has become one of the world's -- and definitely Europe's -- biggest and most important entertainment industry gathering.
For three days, the 796 exhibitors from 48 countries attended the international platform for music and entertainment in the exhibition halls near western Berlin's radio tower, the Funkturm. This year's numbers mark a 20 percent increase compared with last year's exhibitor totals, organizers said.
Today your love, tomorrow the world
Leading industry names, such as Universal Music, Warner Music and Nokia, took part, along with small independent labels and music groups from Germany and abroad, particularly from this year's partner country, Spain. Vodafone, Apple iTunes, Musicload, Napster and MSN Music International also had stands at the fair.
Telecommunications companies, brand names and games people "are all part of the makeup of Popkomm's attendance," Popkomm director Katja Bittner said. "We need people who not only create music or work in music as their core business, but also see music as a new chance to develop their own business."
At home in Berlin
The singer Leo, "La Bestia" of the Spanish group Stravaganzza sang on Wednesday at Popkomm's "Spanish Night"
In its second year since moving to Berlin -- after 15 years in Cologne -- Popkomm's organizers see the German capital as an ideal starting block for a confab that has endured some difficult times. Converting Popkomm skeptics into believers has been just one of the main challenges for organizers.
"The plan was to give the conference a new profile -- of being a business platform for the music and entertainment industry. We wanted to create an event where people could get the most benefit through preparation," Bittner said.
In the past, she acknowledged, Popkomm was often viewed as a party for the music industry where business came second.
More then just a "trade show"
The key to Popkomm's success is its triple threat line-up as a trade fair, a conference and a music festival. This year organizers also again opted for a later starting date for the event. In previous years, the conference took place during the peak summer month of August -- a traditional soft spot for European business when executives typically take annual leave.
One of the high notes of this year's festival was its focus on live music. Perhaps taking a cue from other successful music festivals such as America's South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, the 2005 Popkomm spread live acts around 30 clubs and venues across Berlin.
On Wednesday, Popkomm hosted the IMEA 2005 Awards (Innovation in Music & Entertainment Awards). The New York-based KSolo received the first prize by for their interactive Internet karaoke service, which is considered a breakthrough in the karaoke business.
For the first time ever, gospel artists will be honored in an awards ceremony on Friday, when the fair closes its doors until next year. Then get ready for more Latin tunes from Berlin, as Brazil will be Popkomm's partner country in 2006.