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United we stand!

Berlin’s MusicTech-industry in times of the Corona crisis


With the first news of Coronavirus heading towards Europe in the beginning of 2020 hardly anyone of us would have suspected that, only a couple weeks later, all of our lives would be so greatly impacted by the outbreak. Our routines were drastically changed with public life essentially coming to a halt.
With the virus’ primary threat being towards a person’s health it has ironically taken a tremendous toll on the health of the world economy as we have put forth our best efforts in protecting ourselves.

Corona’s impact on Berlin’s economy

Businesses of every size are feeling the impact of the lockdown through revenue loss and employee layoffs.
Berlin’s MusicTech-industry is no exception. With the prohibition of social gatherings larger than two people and a necessary distance of 1,50m between each person, the German government forced all cultural venues, music festivals, as well as Berlin’s famous nightlife to close its doors. With some having managed to move online, this has ultimately left industry professionals, as well as the crowds, without a place to go.

Both “Superbooth” and “Loop” decided to take the year off and hold their next conferences in April 2021. 

Covid-19’s impact on Berlin’s social and economic activity might make it seem like the city’s cultural life has become nonexistent, but Berlin’s scene is very much alive as the city always finds a way to rise to the occasion.

“Help is on the way!”

Struggling, of course, but navigating through the crisis with through the help of the MusicTech sector. The locations might have changed from the venues into online spaces, but there’s still a lot happening.

Countless initiatives and fundraisers have been created to support artists, small business owners and or NGOs such as Sea Watch via livestream platforms, which allow donations directly to the person or business in need.
A lot of the initiatives mentioned below focus on supporting struggling businesses and venues but there is also help for artists, freelancers and small businesses with up to ten employees where up to 15,000€ in state-funded financial aids is available. For more detailed information about how to apply for emergency aid and various loan options please check out the websites of Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie, the Federal ministry of economy and the Investitionsbank Berlin (application possible until 31.5.2020). These sites speak volumes to how highly cultural life in Berlin is being valued, via the speed and efficiency of which emergency aid has been provided.

On top of that, a helpful resource to look for open job positions and new employees during the crisis is the job matching platform “Berliner Heldinnen”. Skilled workers can find new jobs in all essential professions, especially the medical sector.

Streams, podcasts and more

But more than the government, the people of Berlin came together to help out their neighbors in need:
Helfen.Berlin”, for example, is an online shop that focuses on selling gift cards for every shop and location that is registered with them. The aim is to give Berliners a chance to support their favorite spots by buying gift cards now and exchanging them for the goods and services provided by the businesses once they are allowed to re-open. Such gift cards can also be purchased for cultural institutions and events, for example a ballet show or a jazz bar.

For fans of the theater, the city’s biggest and most well-known theaters are streaming live from their stages. Institutions like the “Deutsche Theater”, the “Maxim Gorki Theater” or “Ensemble Berlin” are supplying a constant stream of high-quality entertainment directly into the homes of Berlin. And let’s not forget the city’s vibrant subculture of drag shows: The weekly drag show, “The House of” presented by Pansy moved their stage from a karaoke bar in Friedrichshain onto a twitch channel were the queens are performing and raising donations.

Whoever is looking for a sophisticated cultural experience online to keep them entertained through self-isolation can find exactly that on the websites of Berlin’s two biggest concert halls: Konzerthaus Berlin at #konzertZUhaus or the Digital Concert Hall curated by the Berliner Philharmonie. The Berlin-based streaming company for classical music “Idagio” is also putting on a free real-time video series called “IdagioLIVE” that connects artists and their audiences directly from home. The international artists featured are offering exclusive behind the scenes material, discussions and Q&As.

Berlin’s famous nightlife

The niche within Berlin’s music scene that is using the online realm the most is the electronic music genre. With all bars and clubs being closed, up to 9,000 nightlife workers are facing an uncertain future. Berlin’s nightlife is also incredibly important for the city’s tourism sector, as they are a big pull-factor for young travelers to visit the city.

To help the clubs survive and keep their employees on payroll, the community came together to create various streaming events and podcasts to simultaneously bring attention to fundraising campaigns as well as provide a platform for artists to promote their music.

Amongst the most widely known streams are “United We Stream”, “Berlin Culture Cast” and “Block Party Berlin”.

Berlin Culture Cast” focuses on live concerts, “Block Party Berlin” accommodates the Hip-hop fans in town, and the charity project “United We Stream”, the most popular,  is now also broadcasting out of clubs throughout Europe after having started in Berlin night clubs such as “Griessmühle”, “Kater Blau” or “SchwuZ”. As an initiative from the “Berliner Clubcommission”, “Berlin Worx” and “Reclaim Club Culture” the stream goes online daily through the help of many media partners such as “Arte Concert”, “radioeins” and the “ifbbw”.

The company behind the stream

Founded in Berlin in 2010 the “ifbbw” or “Institut für Bildbewegung“ is operating out of the German capital, as well as a newer office in Düsseldorf. The “ifbbw” specializes in recording and broadcasting video content for live streams and social media. Having worked with well-established clients like Universal Studios, YouTube and Red Bull, “ifbbw” clearly belongs to the winners of the Corona-crisis. Now they are supporting “United We Stream” on their mission to help preserve Berlin club culture throughout the crisis by supplying collaborating partners with the necessary know-how and technology to set up and record performances, as well as the coding for streaming. It’s tremendous success, with over one million clicks on the first evening alone, is truly remarkable.

Sure, during a crisis, there will always be a winning and a losing side. While we want to highlight companies like the “ifbbw” or “Idagio” for their resilience and adaptability in times like these, we also want to mention that all the success and the rising number of donations could not have been possible without the great solidarity of Berliners. Corona hit us hard, but in the midst of all the uncertainty it created a sense of togetherness and a will to thrive as a community. Much can be said about the “savoir-vivre” of the city, but actions speak louder than words and with all the initiatives and projects in mind the message is clear:

United we stand!