04 July 2012
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For partying of a no-holds-barred round the clock variety, Berlin has a reputation quite unlike any other city.

But the seemingly endless weekends spent in the Berghain and Watergate listening to pounding techno could be threatened by a new set of music royalty payments.

Powerful German collection agency Gema, which represents 65,000 artists, is changing the structure of the fees it charges for performances and recorded music and introducing a fee based on a percentage of the ticket price and size of the venue.

The agency is also considering introducing a 50% surcharge for events that last more than five hours and a similar increase again after another three hours.

In short, clubs like Berghain and Watergate could see a significant hike in their payments, one that could threaten the future existence of such clubs.

Previous Head of PR at Berlin based Minus, Dean Driscoll, says: "If Gema really cared about musicians being awarded the proper royalties for their music being played in German clubs, then the crackdown would be focused on getting DJs to submit tracklists for the music they've played in their sets.

"But it's not: the majority of the music being played in underground clubs, such as Berghain and Watergate, is from artists and labels Gema do not actually represent.

"The whole thing's completely unfair and disproportionate, to the point that it smacks of greed rather than a real effort to reward artists properly for their work. There is a compromise that could be reached here - but Gema flat out refuse to acknowledge that a middle ground exists."

Clubs which are often open in excess of 10 hours say they are likely to face annual payments five to ten times the size of the flat rate they currently pay.

According to The Club Commission, which represents Berlin's nightlife industry, an average sized nightclub which currently pays €28,000 (£22,456) could face a yearly bill of €180,000 if the charges were to be introduced.

Berghain, which in the past has staged events lasting more than 48 hours, will face an increase of 1,400% in fees while Watergate boss, Steffen Hacks who faces a bill of €200,000 instead of the current €10,000 says he will be forced to shut.

There are fears that if the charges are introduced, it could have a significant impact on Berlin's tourism industry, which attracts 10,000 visitors every weekend with many citing the city's nightlife as a major draw.

Read more over at The Guardian.




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