Why concerts keep getting canceled

“Der Weg Eine Freiheit” may not be superstars of the German black metal scene, but they are firmly established. It was all the more surprising when the band posted an Instagram post announcing the cancellation of the Brixtom Festival in France. Quote: “Unfortunately, for most small and independent festivals and promoters, the photos on social media of sold-out festivals and halls do not reflect the reality.” For Nikita Kamprad, singer and guitarist of Der Weg Eine Freiheit, the decision to reveal the sad facts was an easy one.

Better to play with open cards

It was clear to him that if he posts the cancellation, it means “that people see: oh, Der Weg Eine Freiheit is not going so well, we won’t book it anymore.” But he wasn’t afraid of that. “I wanted to be really open and transparent about it and address the issue because I don’t think that’s happening often enough right now.”

In fact, Der Weg Eine Freiheit isn’t the only band struggling with sluggish concert ticket sales. The Hamburg rapper Ahzumjot recently had to cancel three concerts of his already scheduled tour due to poor advance sales. An article in Musikexpress Magazin described numerous similar cases in the German punk scene.

A whole target group dropped out

The band Smile & Burn brought up the theory that during the course of the pandemic a complete target group had left the live concert market: the over-30s with “alternative” music tastes. Birgit Widhopf, operator of the small Munich concert location Heppel & Ettlich, made a similar observation. “I think we’ve lost them. They haven’t come back to this day – and we need them urgently. Because of course they were very fond of music and were happy to buy records. In our small concert area, we simply depend on having a reasonably have a full house. Otherwise the whole thing doesn’t pay off”.

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Nikita Kamprad from the band Der Weg Eine Freiheit also suspects that many people who used to have an affinity for concerts changed their behavior during the long tour and festival break. He believes that people have subconsciously given up the habit of going to concerts. “And that’s difficult because it takes at least as much time to get used to it again. Humans are creatures of habit: once they’ve got used to something, it’s difficult to teach themselves to do it again.

Especially smaller bands affected

It is unclear whether a certain age group is actually responsible for the concert doldrums. It is a fact that smaller and less well-known bands in particular are affected by this problem. Whether for fear of a corona infection, for financial reasons, or because of the perceived oversupply of concerts after a forced break of two and a half years: many people in the music industry are afraid that the audience will not come back at all.

Birgit Widhopf from Heppel & Ettlich in Munich praises the support given to smaller clubs and venues by the German government’s new start culture initiative, but is also thoughtful. “In the aftermath, of course, you ask yourself whether what you’re doing is still relevant. Is the slump now due to Corona, or is it just leveling off at this level? I think that’s worked for everyone in the two years now. That people are now asking themselves: Where is my limit? When will that no longer work for me?”

Der Weg Eine Freiheit have booked a headline tour through Germany for September. The pre-sale figures, singer Nikita Kamprad admits, are not ideal. He is also confident in principle, but warns that the music landscape could face a difficult winter. As I said, it will probably take an extremely long time – at least as long as the pandemic has lasted so far – before the whole thing ends up back somewhere with normality.

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