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MUSIC > Clubs face closure with new music royalty system

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Berghain, faces 1,400 percent increase in fees, said New Year’s event would be its last

Berghain, faces 1,400 percent increase in fees, said New Year’s event would be its last

Clubs in Germany’s political – and clubbing – capital of Berlin could be forced to close because of prospective changes to the country’s music royalty system, according to The Guardian.

Germany’s collections agency, Gema, is changing the structure of the fees it charges for performances and recorded music; from Jan. 1, 2013, onwards, it will introduce a fee system based on a percentage of the ticket prices and size of the clubs’ venue, with a 50 percent surcharge for events that last more than five hours and a similar increase after another three hours, the British daily reported.

The German capital’s clubbing culture is one of its defining characteristics and the backbone of its tourist industry, with more than 35 percent of visitors citing the city’s nightlife as a major reason for their visit, according to the Guardian. The agency says 60 percent of establishments will not see their payments increase at all, and may even see them reduced while also arguing that most clubs should be able to afford to pay 10 percent of the ticket price, the daily reported. But the Club Commission, which represents Berlin’s nightlife industry, says an average-sized club that now pays 28,000 euros a year would face a bill of 180,000 euros. “The clubs are fearful for their existence,” said Lutz Leichsenring, spokesman for the Club Commission.

A campaign against Gema’s move has already collected more than 200,000 signatures and 5,000 people demonstrated on June 25 outside the collections agency’s summer party in Berlin. On June 30, more than 2,000 clubs across Germany halted the decks for five minutes to demonstrate their opposition to the changed royalties. According to Guardian’s report, the legendary Berghain, which has staged events lasting more than 48 hours and which faces a 1,400 percent increase in fees, said a New Year’s Eve event would be its last. If the clubs start to disappear, then Berlin’s economy is bound to suffer, as more than 10,000 visitors come to the city every weekend.

July/19/2012

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