Concert industry: Bands without an audience


Jan Rößler plays trombone. Pretty good actually. He is the trombonist for Moop Mama, a brass band that has built quite a large live audience. “Up until 2019, the band was the main project for all of us,” he says. “We made a good living out of it.” During corona That wasn’t possible at times, but the concert industry is now running at full speed again. Images of packed festivals and sold-out mega concerts could be seen all summer long. Then Moop Mama can really get going again, right?

Rather not. “We were thrown back properly,” says Rößler. “Each of us has now taken other jobs, gives music lessons or plays gigs with other bands.” They can no longer make a living from working with Moop Mama alone. “And given the current situation, it’s also unclear whether that will change again.” Concert tickets are currently selling worse than ever. Rows of artists are canceling concerts or entire tours: Revolverheld, Querbeat, Swedish House Mafia – the list is long and there are no unknown names. Live shows are one of the last pillars with which one can still become a “full-time musician” in the music industry. This pillar is now crumbling – no one can say exactly how badly.

Jan Rößler plays trombone at Moop Mama.


Jan Rößler plays trombone at Moop Mama.
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Image: Picture Alliance


Only the young still buy tickets

There are many different reasons for this: the organizers are still catching up on many concerts that had to be postponed due to corona restrictions. And they are often well attended. But if you still have a lot of tickets from the last few years lying around anyway, don’t buy any new ones for now. In addition, it is not yet clear which infection protection measures will apply in winter, and the looming heating bills are not exactly an invitation to spend money. “People’s going-out behavior has changed fundamentally,” says Axel Ballreich. He runs two clubs in Nuremberg and is chairman of the Association of Music Venues in Germany. “Very young audiences still work well, but in all other age groups many people are very reluctant to buy tickets.”

Moop Mama’s audience is very mixed in age. “We had one or two almost sold-out concerts in the summer,” says Jan Rößler. This is too little. The band scrapped the plans for a tour in autumn, the risk was too big for them. As a brass band with a total of ten musicians on stage, the challenges are even greater. “We cover our costs from about 800 to 1000 spectators,” says Rößler. For smaller shows, they have no reserves at all. The entrepreneurial risk for the band increases. “And actually I don’t want to be an entrepreneur at all,” says the trombonist. “I want to be an artist.”

Benjamin Rose, singer of the band BenjRose:


Benjamin Rose, singer of the band BenjRose: “Now we’re starting from scratch again.”
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Image: Picture Alliance


Difficult scheduling

“In 2019, I actually thought, now the thing is rolling,” Rößler recalls. The pandemic has slowed Moop Mama down. Rolling again now takes a lot of strength and time. The band members also work as music teachers or play in other bands. Scheduling appointments with ten people is not easy anyway. If everyone now also has a part-time job, it will be almost impossible. “Not everyone can just keep a whole weekend free for the band anymore,” says Jan Rößler. Especially not if the gig might be cancelled.

Benjamin Rose also knows the problem with part-time jobs. He is the frontman of the band BenjRose. Rose himself sings in various cover bands in addition to his own band. Drummer Benno Müller vom Hofe works for WDR, guitarist Robert Schuller gives music lessons and works as a music producer. Before the pandemic, the Cologne rock band was actually doing pretty well. “We’ve all seen BenjRose as our main project for a few years,” says frontman Benjamin Rose. Step by step they wanted to get rid of their part-time jobs in order to start making their own music. You were there as an opening act pink on the road, have worked together with the keyboarder of the Foo Fighters: “Now we’re starting from scratch again.” In the Cologne area they have already played their own concerts with 400 to 500 spectators, now they are playing in the small clubs again.



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