1. What is Fête de la Musique and where did the idea come originate?
Fête de la Musique is a festival of music without artistic direction and is based on civic participation. This hot import from France encourages musicians of all styles, young and old, amateur and professional, to pick up their instruments (or grease up the vocal cords) annually for the official beginning of summer on June 21st. Admission is free and musicians perform without a fee outdoors throughout the city.
The legendary founder of Fête is the former French Minister of Culture Jack Lang who was impressed by a study, which identified that a large number of the French were amateur or professional musicians. To make artists both audible and visual he called upon all muscians in Paris to come outdoors and into the streets to perform for thirty minutes on June 21st of 1982. In 1984 the first Fête outside of France was held in in Liège, Belgium. In 1985, with the initiative of the French Ministry of Culture, this continued to spread beyond regional boarders with the “European Year of Music”. Today the festival is celebrated in more than 540 cities and townships worldwide, 300 of these are in Europe. Germany alone hosts Fête in over 50 cities and has been a participant since 1995.
2. Is Fête de la Musique a French festival?
No. Fête does bare the French name, but it is not a music festival that exclusively performs French music, or songs in the French language. It is a music festival for musicians of all styles, amateur and professional, young and old, from the local music scene. Many cites that celebrate Fête translate the name to their local language (Make Music Day, Fiesta de la Musica, Festa Muzika). However, as a tribute to France, where the festival has its origins, the French title is usually maintained (also as a global brand).
3. Is there an attendance fee for Fête de la Musique?
No. Attendance is free, which is in accordance with the global guidelines and the general agreement. This is also true for the Fête de la Nuit (night), which starts at 10pm indoors.
4. When does Fête de la Musique take place?
Yearly. It’s an annual event on June 21st., the first day of summer. Berlin celebrates mostly outdoors from 4pm to 10pm. The event then moves indoors starting at 10pm with Fête de la Nuit.
5. Who creates Fête de la Musique? Who are involved?
The event has three main players. First are the musicians of course. They play either at a fixed location (on stage) or they perform acoustic music spontaneously throughout the streets. Second are the fixed locations (clubs, cafés, cultural centers, churches, associations, initiatives, individuals etc.) people and places that offer a venue for the musicians. Fête is responsible for organizing and coordinating these locations, acting as an agency/company/association on behalf of the local government. Finally, let us not forget the many visitors and music lovers who make this joyful interaction and experience possible.
6. Fête de la Musique doesn’t happen in my city. Can my city also celebrate Fête?
Yes! However, it is a requisite to comply with the directives of the general agreement for Fête worldwide; and the Fete is now celebrated in over 50 cities across Germany. A city in Germany that would also like to celebrate their own Fête can do so with the license agreement for the right to use the word/picture trademark „Fête de la Musique“ (this can be obtained for purchase from the Fête Company – Organization of Fête in Berlin for the German region). There are no royalties! The local government (the mayor and/or cultural authority) must officially support the event – both in its content and finances.
7. What happens if it’s raining?
Each open-air location has its own plan if it rains. Some may move the event indoors, others may prefer to continue playing open-air despite the rain, and other locations may decide to cancel. One thing is certain: Fête takes place rain or shine!
8. Who organizes Fête de la Musique Berlin?
Since 1995 Fete Company has organized Fête de la Musique Berlin under the leadership of managing director Simone Hofmann on behalf of the city of Berlin. Fête Company has a paid staff working in different areas such as partner agencies, music programs, press outreach, social media IT and graphics. The team is as follows – contact.
Fête Company does not engage in, or run proprietary locations. Instead it creates the organizational framework, coordinates the musicians and location requests, works as a mediator between musicians and the locations, takes care of the majority of permit applications in the twelve district offices, handles the GEMA / GVL – licensing, the event marketing and PR, etc.
9. Does Fête Berlin charge a fee for the organization and execution?
Yes, the costs are largely for: staff of the organization / coordination office, advertising, public relations, website / IT ( host and service ), and GEMA royalties etc. The total costs for the Berlin Fête de la Musique annually amounts to about 118,000 € net. In this sense, Berliner Fête is an an exceptional and unusual event because it shares the rights and responsibilites with the location partners (stages).
10. Who finances Fête de la Musique Berlin?
The Berliner Fête is an event hosted by the city of Berlin. It is supported 100% by the public sector as are all participating cities around the world. Funding for Berlin has been supported by two official agencies since 2010: by the Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery resp. The Senate Administration for Culture and Europe with a state budget title carrying 35 % of the costs, and by an additional grant from the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin covering the remaining 65 % of costs.
11. Who and how many people visit the Fête de la Musique Berlin?
Visitor numbers are difficult to estimate for all twelve Berlin districts due to the decentralized nature of the approximately 100 locations (stages). Weather permitting, there are usually tens of thousands of visitors, estimated to be anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 people, or about 70,000 during the World Cup, and less in the event of continuous rain. According to a survey in 2011, 80% of the visitors were from Berlin. Half attended the Fête with friends/colleagues, 35% with family/ partner/children and 15% came alone.
12. Where can I find the program for the Fête de la Musique Berlin?
The program will be published in mid-May on the webpage www.fetedelamusique.de. You can then search by district or musical styles under the menu item “Programm” (which will be available beginning in May). In addition, there will be a program sorted by district that will be available for uploading as a PDF. In early June a free printed program folder is distributed to various locations including the participating locations (stages and venues), in record stores, in flyer display cases, cafes, bars etc. There is also an app called “Fete Berlin” for Android and iOS.
13. Can I support Fête de la Musique Berlin, specifically the locations (stages/venues)?
Yes. The 100 locations (stages) contribute a lot of work and carry a heavy financial burden in order to provide musicians with an opportunity to perform. Often it is assumed that the sites will make a profit selling refreshments. But many sites end up just breaking even, and some finish the day even at a loss. Therefore it is strongly encouraged that you buy your food and your drinks at the sites. These catering sales (along with an occasional sponsorship or market development funds) support the location and is often the only way the costs for stage construction, engineering and logistics (cleaning, toilets, etc.) is financed.
FOR MUSICIANS : FETE DE LA MUSIQUE BERLIN
14. How can musicians participate?
There are two ways for musicians to participate at Fête Berlin:
1) An appearance at one of the fixed locations (stages/venues) in one of the twelve Berlin districts. For this, an application is required. The application period is always from November 21st to Feb 21st.
2) Perform spontaneous acoustic music (un-plugged!) throughout Berlin between 4pm and 10pm. No registration or application is required for spontaneous acoustic music, although it is recommended to download and print this permit in case authorities request it.
15. What do musicians gain from participating?
Besides the fun and the joy of making music, the Fête draws a large public audience and provides an opportunity to reach new fans. Even social media channels as well as classic media airwaves give exposure to many musicians performing at Fête. Although no fee is paid, and “passing the hat“ is not allowed, musicians can distribute flyers for future concerts and sell CDs, LPs, cassettes and downloads.
16. Why are the musicians not paid for the concert?
The basic idea of Fête is to be a free music festival, a day on which music is celebrated with no commercial interests, and is available for everyone. The worldwide general agreement stipulates that all music at the Fête be performed free of charge and with no admission fee.
17. How does one get a gig at a fixed location (stage/venue)?
Musicians can apply each year between Nov. 21st and Feb. 21st, exclusively on the Fête webpage. There are two application forms, one for children/music groups (up to age 12) and one for adolescents/adults (13+).
18. Who decides where a performance takes place?
Locations offering a stage decide the type of performance they want to present. About 50 locations receive program assistance from the Fête Company. About 500 music applications are reviewed by the music department of Fête Company each year and then are offered to those locations. If a location is interested in particular performer or group offered by the Fête Company, they, the location, must make contact with the musicians before April 21st. Musicians who do not receive a performance stage will be notified by Fête Company per email at the end of April or the beginning of May.
19. Does musicians need to bring equipment / Amplifiers / PA/? What does the location provide?
Many locations (stages) have an amplifier / PA, some do not. Musicians bring their own instruments and special equipment/technology. While some locations provide stage equipment, amplifiers / PA etc., all locations are required to provide musicians with refreshments of snacks and alcohol-free drinks.
20. Will there be enough advertising and promotion?
Yes. The complete program of about 100 venues will be published in a program folder with a circulation of 100,000, size A6, on the webpage www.fetedelamusique.de and on the app FETEberlin. In addition, 9,000 posters will be posted throughout the city. Fête is will also be publicized to the public via social media channels, as well as through the press and public relations.
21. Is a permit required for acoustic music (unplugged)?
Yes, with a permit from the Landes-Immissionsschutzgesetz Berlin. During Fête in Berlin, it is allowed to perform spontaneous acoustic music throughout the city of Berlin and in all districts on the 21st of June from 4pm to 10pm. Fête Company obtains a permit for the entire city of Berlin, for acoustic musicians (unplugged, without electrical amplification, PA’s etc.) to perform on public streets, squares, parks, and in open air venues. Performances are not allowed in the vicinity of hospitals, care homes, memorials, schools when in session, and churches and other places of worship during service. For more detailed information please see the „Rules“. It is recommended that performers download, print out, and keep the permit available if requested by authorities.
2. I have found a place where I would like to perform. How can this location and my performance become part of the program?
The venue can apply to be a location partner between the 21st of November to 21st of February by using the Fête Berlin weblinks:
Due to the high numbers of visitors for Fête Berlin a location will only be considered if the venue can host 300 people or more.
23. Does Fête Company also arrange opportunities to perform outside of the Fête event?
No. The Fête Company may make an exception only for special requests for example, from the press, associations, and foundations.
24. How does it work with GEMA?
As a rule, those who perform publicly in Germany must be a client of GEMA. It is usually the organizer that is responsible for the performance, presentation, or reproduction. Unfortunately GEMA does not grant Fête de la Musique a special agreement because it is difficult to estimate how many visitors will be present and therefore the licensing fees cannot be anticipated. The Fête de la Musique in France is exempt from any SACEM licensing costs, but this is not the case in Germany. The Fête Company pays the required licensing costs for GEMA for the entire Berlin Fête. The high costs for GEMA / GVL are financed by the contribution of the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin. Location partners receive the required printed form “GEMA- Musikfolge“ that needs to be filled out by listing the participating music groups and as well as their playlists. This form must be completed and sent to the Fête Company by the deadline of August 21st.
FOR LOCATIONS PARTNERS AND VENUES OF FETE DE LA MUSIQUE BERLIN
25. How does one become a location (stage) partner?
To become a venue partner apply between November 21st to February 21st by using the Fête Berlin weblinks:
The application is not considered to be a contract and Fête Company reserves to right to reject an application might this also be for various reasons (e.g., no prospect of regulatory approval). If necessary, this can be clarified with an on-site visit between February and April.
26. What kind of locations (stages) are possible?
Fête is a music festival, which mainly takes place in the outdoors, so open-air locations are preferred. But there are also indoor locations, which is a blessing for the event that it rains. Locations can present both indoor and outdoor music performances, which are permitted from 4pm to 10pm, then the celebration continues exclusively indoors for Fête de la Nuit beginning at 10pm.
Due to the Landes-Immissionsschutzgesetzes Berlin, outdoor performances for Fête must take place before 10pm, with the possible exception of continuing till 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. For further information see “Rules”.
27. What should be considered when choosing a location?
Both indoor and open-air site are possible whether on private or public land. Public (not private) streets, squares, parks and green spaces, require a permit for special use of a public a space. Apply for this permit at the district office / Bezirksamt. These locations may not be in the vicinity and within hearing distance of hospitals, nursing homes, memorial sites and similar legitimate institutions, which includes schools during class and churches during services. Venues cannot be within hearing distance of one another, and must have a capacity of 300 or more.
28. Is a roadblock advisable and useful?
No. Road closures are not advised due to high costs like fees, traffic signs, security personnel etc, plus they require additional organizational efforts. For these reasons roadclosures are usually rejected by police or district office authorities.
29. Who is the organizer? Fête Company or the location (stage)?
Both are. Each location partner is the organizer in charge of its own site. The city of Berlin is represented by the the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Senate Chancellery, who commissions the Company Fête Company to organize the event as a whole.
30. What are the costs of being a location (stage) partner?
Costs are primarily the result of technology, logistics, cleaning, insurance, regulatory approval (s), sanitary installations, safety, security, waste disposal, etc. A fixed rate or estimate is not possible because all the locations are different, and can vary from a purely acoustic location without a sound system with a carpet to a to large covered stage. Anything is possible. There are no participation fees or charges to be a location partner for Fête.
31. What permits are required for open-air location partners?
Those who want to use a public space or street must obtain a permit in advance from the district office / Bezirksamt. The permit for a public space for special use must be applied and paid for independently by the location (stage) partner. In addition, the operation of a refreshment stand also requires a permit from the district office / Bezirksamt.
Fête Company obtains the sound permits for all location partners and then sends these permits to the partners. No fees are charged.
32. Can the location (stage) make its own program?
Yes. The location partners decide on their own musical direction. They create the program autonomously, and they themselves have to acquire the musicians, communicate and work with them. There is also the possibility to have program assistance via the Fête Company. Every year about 500 music bands apply for the chance to perform at Fête de la Musique. Should a location partner need a little help completing a music line up, or even creating an entire program, Fête Company is available and ready to give recommendations from this pool.
33. Can a location (stage) partner sell food and drinks?
Yes, the location organizes the refreshments itself and is responsible for obtaining the necessary permits. The amount of food and beverage stands should be appropriate for the expected number of visitors. Usually only 1-2 stands are allowed by the authorities because Fête de la Musique is not a street fair, it is a music festival.
The sale of food and drink is often the only way to cover the costs for the stage, personnel and technology. Running a food stand without an official permit would be unwise because the authorities do check this.
34. Does a location partner (stage) have to register with GEMA? Is there a payment due?
No. Fête Company is responsible for the license registration with GEMA for the entirety of Berlin Fête. The high costs of GEMA/ GVL are financed by the kind support of the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin. Each location partner is contractually required to send his or her playlists to the Fête Company by August 21st.