Music

Berlin Music Week Is Here

Tempelhof Airport

The former Tempelhof Airport is now used for major fairs and cultural events. Anouschka Pearlman for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anouschka Pearlman for NPR

Berlin Music Week is held at Tempelhof Airport. It was once the largest airport in the world, the Third Reich’s gateway to Europe. Later, Western powers outsmarted the Soviets by flying in supplies to sustain Berlin’s two and a half million residents during the Berlin Airlift.

Tempelhof has only recently opened to the public. This historic backdrop is where record labels, publishers, artists and industry executives from all over the world will network and showcase September 8th-10th in the trade fair known as Popkomm.

Tempelhof is also the venue for the Berlin Festival 2010 this weekend.

I think of the Airlift and how life is larger than a record deal. Maybe the organizers thought the same thing, especially after Popkomm was canceled last year. They claimed companies could no longer afford Popkomm due to pirate downloading/digital media theft.

In reaction to this, All-Together-Now was formed as a different platform with 100 sessions and 250 speakers debating how to move the music industry forward.

Popkomm shares the stage with All- Together-Now and Club Spree under the umbrella of Berlin Music Week.

KulturBrauerei

The KulturBrauerei is located on the former Schultheiss Brewery. Anoushka Pearlman for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anoushka Pearlman for NPR

The KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg and the Spree River down by Kreuzberg/Friedrichshain are other historical places where events will occur during Berlin Music Week.

The KulturBrauerei is an iconic landmark and former brewery in Prenzlauer Berg.

The darkly lit rooms provide a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.

Club Spree offers acts and DJs at beach bars and clubs along the Spree river in trendy Kreuzberg/Friedrichschain. A landmark along the way is the Oberbaumbrücke, a former inner-city checkpoint during the DDR. Thousands of West Berliners crossed over for day visits from 19 Dec 1963 until 4 Jan 1964  to see their relatives in the East for the first time since the Wall’s construction.

Some of the beach bars along the Spree are disappearing fast as investors buy the land to build high rises. This Saturday, 12 Euro will get you into 44 clubs. Thanks to Berlin Green Initiative and Solar Water World, there is also a complimentary, solar-powered shuttle up and down the stretch.

As I recline on an oversized bench at the Arena Club, where free concerts will be held, I notice the DDR trailer parked on the lawn. The man next to me follows my gaze.

"We could never have had something like this in DDR times," the man says.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

He gesticulates vaguely.

DDR Trailer

This camper trailer was typical for the DDR. Like cars in the DDR, there were very few trailer models available. Anouschka Pearlman for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anouschka Pearlman for NPR

“The music outdoors, the over sized benches, the grass cars." He smiles.

"You know, that’s a DDR trailer. We’d hitch them to our Trabis for vacation. It makes me happy to see that it is now a source of fun.”

I feel history wafting by with the smell of change.

Organizers of Berlin Music Week express their commitment to bringing the consumer and industry closer together through Berlin’s eclecticism and tolerance. Affordable tickets, free concerts, and the open door policy at Popkomm’s Marketplace make events accessible for everybody. It seems the industry has finally realized it needs “das Volk” after all.

Berlin Music Week is a vast undertaking, hell-bent on offering something for everybody.

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