Berlin club scene could "change dramatically" under new fees

Image for Berlin club scene could "change dramatically" under new fees

Hefty licence fees are something the Australian club scene has long been familiar with, and now the world’s most vital destination for electronic music is facing its own fight. As reported by Billboard, a fleet of German club owners are protesting a planned tariff structure from the German collections society GEMA, which could see tariffs rise up to 1,000 percent. The changes are due to be implemented in 2013. They will be charged as a percentage of the ticket price and size of the venue, with a 50-percent surcharge for events that last longer than five hours – in other words, just about every dance party in Germany.

German paper Spiegel gives this hypothetical: “For an average Berlin club with 410 square meters of space, charging €8 entrance and running two events per week from 10 p.m. until 5. a.m, the price paid to GEMA will rise from the current €14,500 to some €95,000.”

Over 5,000 people demonstrated in Berlin on Monday, with several prominent scene identities in attendance. Norbert Thormann and Michael Teufele, the directors of hallowed techno temple Berghain, voiced their concerns to Billboard. “The new tariffs mean that we discotheques would have to pay more than 1,400 percent to GEMA, which would put the very existence of many clubs at risk. If this change in the tariff actually becomes reality in 2013, the club landscape will change dramatically. There will be a huge increase in admission charges with an end result that many guests will no longer be able to afford to go clubbing.”

Naturally, the people at GEMA have a different take. “The way I see it, they’ve been paying far too little in the past,” GEMA regional manager Lorenz Schmid argues. “I see no problem for a club manager if he has to pay €1.20 out of €12.”

An online petition against the tariffs is climbing towards 200,000 signees.

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