Q: What drove you to get involved in Music and ticketing?
A: I visited a show of Pink Floyd in Vienna when I was 13. It was incredibly impressive. So when I was 15/16 I started, together with some friends, to promote parties and concerts at school and small local venues. Ticketing only became important some 20 years later, when we as promoters found out that ticket offices were basically the biggest scalpers in the business and we wanted to change this. And we did.
Q: How was the music scene in Austria at the time vs nowadays?
A: There were relatively few shows of international artists in Vienna, maybe 10-15 per year. There were no clubs, no open airs, Vienna was a dull and grey city. And rock and pop music was only listened to by young alternative people. Today it is mass entertainment, most major artists have three generations of audience – grandparents take their kids and grandchilds to a Stones show…
Q: What inspired you to grow your company and to sell it to CTS Eventim?
A: We were young, innocent and broke… or, to be more correct: It was always clear that ticketing is a business of scale. So we included through a network of subsidiaries a number of local promoters into our group of companies and thus had a fast growth. After 4 years we were about to make a joint venture with our competitor, belonging to 5 banks, the city of Vienna and the chamber of commerce. Luckily their arrogance led them to decline our offer. This was also the moment when I met Klaus Peter Schulenberg for the first time – introduced actually by Peter Schwenkow (founder of the now competing DEAG), funny enough. CTS bought 75% of our shares, capitalizing the company and, one year later, introducing their new software product to the market. CTS went public in February 2000, with our company being the first international subsidiary.
Q: How does it feel like being part of a global group vs. running your local company?
A: It was – and is – actually a great feeling being part of the Eventim family. I respect Klaus-Peter Schulenberg a lot, he built and runs a multimillion dollar business and when discussing business with him you will find that he is still into the very detail of each business case. To exchange views, business cases and to make friends within the Eventim family is always a pleasure. The motto is “Business is local” so that the specialties of each country are fully respected whilst we are able to use the huge resources of an international company.
Q: Which have been your most important decisions?
A: To join the music industry, to quit promoting when I felt that I am not as fascinated by it anymore and to join Eventim.
Q: Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?
A: Whoever says that he or she never made a wrong decision has either no brains or no memory or neither of both… As I hope to have kept some of my brains and a bit of my memory – sure I know some things better in hindsight. But overall I am more than satisfied with the things and privileges my life has brought to me.
Q: Are there any concerts that specifically stick out in your memory (not as a member of the general public, but as a professional in the industry)? Why?
A: Absolutely. There was the show of U2 in Sarajevo, right after the end of the war in a destroyed city with production and audience coming from all over Europe. There were the shows were we as promoters opened new venues to the public, like Pink Floyd on the Airfield of Wiener Neustadt, José Carreras in front of the Castle of Schönbrunn, The Rolling Stones on the Formula One Racetrack (they will perform there this year again) and last but not least the “Lichtermeer”, a demonstration against racism and xenophobia in Vienna on the Heldenplatz – this is the square where Hitler had his speech after entering Vienna in 1938. We had 250,000 people there – and that was more than Hitler ever had… Unfortunately the times of nationalism seem to come back – we all have to stand together and fight these tendencies.
Q: What is the highlight for you over these last twenty years in the sector?
A: The “Lichtermeer” as above.
Q: What do Spanish promoters and Austrian promoters have in common?
A: Not really knowing Spanish promoters I would guess it is the risk, the fun, the victories and the defeats that we all experience. And the promoters in both countries can rely on a strong partner in good times as well as in bad times: Eventim.
Q: What should music industry players in general be most conscious about in the current context?
A: The answer to this question is a book and this book is not written by me… But generally spoken I think that all of us have to be aware that our business is pure people’s business – human beeing’s business. It is about the magic moments artists and audience spend together. And we must take care that these magic moments are not sacrificed on the altars built by corporations who have nothing to do with the industry and have nothing but money on their mind. It is up to us, the promoters, agents, ticketers who share the passion for music to keep this passion alive and to pass it on. This is why we at Eventim say: “Sharing the Passion”.