Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Rock me, Amadeus

Don't turn around - der Kommissar could come back to town.

One of the most debated topics at the Popkomm music industry conference in Berlin this week is that of a German radio quota as a means to promote German language music and artists.

France has had a law for a decade to keep pop radio in the hands of French musicians; stations have to play at least 40 percent music by artists in the country. Germany's now considering the same thing, placing a quota on how much foreign music radio stations can play.

It's one of the great debates at Popkomm, the music industry fair in Berlin which started Wednesday. The fear is that Anglo-American music, which has long drowned out German music on the airwaves, has caused irrevocable damage.

I don't know just what it's done for France, but a similar policy certainly worked out well for Canada. The 50% Canadian content mandate drove demand for original Canadian artists, and when coupled with the profits that cheaper CD production brought, was a large factor in driving the genre - I would argue concept - of alternative music. Of course, Canada's problem was slightly different. With many of Canada's metropolitan centers in broadcast radius of US media, there was no shortage of quality native content already there and waiting for exposure, it was just being overshadowed in the market.

Germany... well, what's their excuse? With the nearest English-speaking nation being three countries away, I would rather suspect a different set of problems. If the existance of David Hasselhoff's career isn't evidence that Germans are starved for some sort of musical talent, I don't know what else it could be.

What was the last big German music sensation to reach our shores? Kraftwerks? Nena? There has to have been something in the last 20 years... doesn't there?


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