Mark Löscher is a man that I knew nothing about until I met and managed to spend five minutes with him at the Berlin Music Week at something called the Speed Dating Expert Panel…where you got five minutes to ask your questions of a range of experts who had been nice enough to make themselves available.
After our chat (and a bit of googling, as you do), I quickly discovered that this very pleasant gentleman has been behind or involved in a whole range of musical things in Berlin…from running Four Music, the label set up by German hiphoppers Die Fantastischen Vier, to working on the Berlin Festival, the Melt Festival, and a whole lot in between…as well as being involved in Intro Magazine and helping to make it the definitive Berlin print music magazine that it is today. An interesting and knowledgeable man indeed! So we were very happy when he agreed to take part in our industry expert series, where we ntroduce an expert, get indieberlin readers to send in questions, and present the best five to the man in the hotseat. So we did, you did, he did, and here it is. Questions by indieberlin readers, answers by Mark Löscher:
I see that you’ve been involved in the Melt Festival and the Berliner festival. I’m slowly starting to put on events…what would your advice be to someone starting small and wanting to grow?
“Try to make it unique for yourself and for the people who are coming”
ML: The thing you have to be aware of most is what kind of event are you doing, who you’re doing the event for. And rather start small with the potential to grow, than try straight away to fill up something huge and take risks, where you stand to lose time – and maybe a lot of money as well. So rather look into the concept, the target group, what you want to do, and always be 100 percent aware that it’s not only the booking that’s important when it comes to music events – it’s also the whole look and feel of the event: what does the artwork look like, what does the club look like; and make it something special…try to make it unique for yourself and for the people who are coming.
According to google, you’ve done a lot of different things in the music biz. Regarding Four Music, were there any particular tricks you had to make the label grow? Is it all about contacts or can you suggest any perennially successful business strategies?
“It’s not about the contacts or anything else. It’s about finding the right artists”
ML: It’s all about the artists. It’s not about the contacts or anything else. It’s about finding the right artists, it’s about your personal relationship with the artist that you’re representing, it’s about the songs that they’re writing. If it’s a good artist, a good record, a good song, it’ll find its way. If you’ve got good contacts, sure it’s a help knowing the right people, but it’s no help if you haven’t got the right song or the right artist. There’s no trick, there’s no particular way you have to do it, because every artist is different, every genre is different. You just have to look into what needs and aims you have, what needs and aims your artist has, and then make your way from there. And always see yourself and your artist as a team and not as opponents.
Intro has become not just a magazine but a network, a community, it has a strong face somehow. What’s the best way to make a magazine into more than just a magazine?
“Don’t hide yourself behind the medium”
Let the magazine happen in real life. It’s one thing to sit in your office and write articles, reviews, editorials, and it’s another thing to go out and show yourself as a person. People are interested in learning who the people are behind the brand, behind the medium, magazine, whatever it is. Show yourself – whether it’s small concerts, little events, evenings where you have writers who’ve written a book answering questions: Make yourself available, reachable. Give yourself, your magazine, a personality that’s not just about the written word, don’t hide yourself behind your medium.
Technology and the present way the business works: Do you see it as positive or negative or just a new challenge?
ML: I think it’s a new challenge, very simply. It’s a positive new challenge. There are so many ways that you can reach out to people. The internet and new technologies make it possible to cut out the middle man, to react faster. And sure, many of the old business models have changed a lot, but I don’t see any negative things in the new technology. It’ll happen anyway so you have to deal with it and find your way through.
I read that the Berlin Music Week is changing completely next year. It already changed from being Popkomm a couple of years ago….how will it change, and why?
ML: I’m completely the wrong person to answer that question. I don’t know how exactly it’s changing, if the change will be good or bad. We’re in discussion with the new team organising the Pop Culture, but for me personally it’s far too early to have a personal opinion to say what I think about it. Generally though change is good, we’ll see what comes out.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.