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About Reeperbahn: Happy To Introduce Detlef Schwarte

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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About Reeperbahn: Happy To Introduce Detlef Schwarte

Hi Detlef, thanks for agreeing to this interview! Could you, first of all, introduce yourself and explain a bit about your role at Reeperbahn.

I am one of the founders of the Reeperbahn Festival and holding the position of Director Conference which means that I am responsible for a programme of around 300 programme items including sessions, networking events, meetings, showcases and award shows. I am 49 years old, married and miss some sleep because of my two little sweet daughters.

Detlef Schwarte Reeperbahn festival Co-founder

Photo Credit: Maureen Vollmer

Why did you decide to co-found Reeperbahn?

I was working with my partner Alex Schulz since 2000. When he came back that year from the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, he told me about this idea to create a similar music event in Hamburg at the Reeperbahn as the district with its clubs, bars and theatres offers a comparable infrastructure as the 6th street in Austin. He was mainly working on it and trying to convince partners in the city, and then we started it together in 2006 with the Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion company who are still part of the festival.

Where did your path in the music industry start and how did you get to where you are now?

My history started in a youth center in 1990 or 1991 in East Hamburg. Here I organized concerts in a small venue for 150 people or so. And I was playing in two bands myself these days. But the first more or less professional steps in the industry went along with promoting the Reeperbahn Festival from 2006. Since I work on the conference programme startzig in 2009 I learned a lot about the music sector and the neighbouring creative industries, but to be honest, I still do not feel a real part of it. I still see myself rather in the position of the observer and the learner.

Reeperbahn Festival

Tell us a bit more about the conference this year?

The session programme of the Reeperbahn Festival really looks promising. We already have  great speakers confirmed like Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim, Author Cornelia Funke, Holger Hübner & Thomas Jensen, Founders of Wacken Open Air, Puja Patel, Pitchfork´s Editor in Chief, Metallica-Producer Bob Rock, Alexander Holland, Chief Content & Strategy Officer at Deezer and Singer Kate Nash are just a few of this year´s speakers.  

For the first time we will have a thematic strand „Future & Film“ that will be keynoted by Matt Dillon, Oscar-nominated actor and film producer, that will hopefully attract many people from the film and tv series sector.
The Festival Village will be home to the Art´s Playground, Music Maker´s Playground and Future Playground. These will offer different kinds of presentations, performances, panels and other formats related to the universe of music. I am really looking forward to that and I am excited how that will be accepted. 

And then the music programme… we expect to present around 500 emerging artists from over 50 countries. I´d recommend to surf through the programme on our website or in our app to find your personal favorites.

Reeperbahn festival

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?

That highlight will surely be the re-created opening ceremony on Wednesday, the finding of this year´s Anchor Award winner or work premieres like The Symphony of Sounds by Matthew Herbert. Exclusively for music professionals I recommend to attend the Helga! Festival Awards Show, the conference session programme that is divided in 11 thematic threats. As well as a few of the around 50 showcases of our international partners where you still find many, many artists looking for deals.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to those attending Reeperbahn?

Without preparation, an event like Reeperbahn Festival can end up useless for you, because there are so many things going on. So, you should decide timely which of the nearly 300 conference programmes fits your needs and interests. Check the Delegate database who is attending and who you want to meet.

Reeperbahn Festival

Who were your favourite speakers and performers at Reeperbahn in the past?

Performers / Artists: Biffy Clyro, The Pigeon Detectives, Kraftklub

Speaker: Lyor Cohen, Camille Hackney, Dave Stewart

What is one thing you’d like readers to know if they’re interested in attending Reeperbahn?

Especially for delegates from abroad, it might make sense to consider to take part in our so-called BEX. The Berlin Experience of the Reeperbahn Festival on Tuesday, Sep 17. So, one day before Reeperbahn Festival’s official kick-off, we are offering again a 1-day-programme in Germany’s capital that gives an overview of the German music industry and a visit to some of the most relevant music and media companies based in the city. The participants will meet high-level executives and insiders and get the chance to network on the Reeperbahn Festival train ride from Berlin to Hamburg. More information can be found on our website where international delegates can register for this really intense and enjoyable programme.

Read more about what Reeperbahn Festival is, Reeperbahn 2019, and announced speakers here.

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