Fête de la Musique Berlin – Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the “Fête de la Musique” and where does the idea come from?
The “Fête de la Musique” celebrates music worldwide on June 21 – the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year – and is open to anyone who wants to participate. All kinds of musicians – young and old, amateur and professional, any musical orientation and genres – take to the streets, squares and parks to share their music with friends, neighbors and strangers. All this free of charge and open to the public. Initiated in 1982 by then-French Culture Minister Jack Lang, the “Fête de la Musique” quickly spread from Paris and France beyond the country’s borders and is now celebrated in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. Berlin has been a part of it since 1995.
2. Is the “Fête de la Musique” a purely French festival?
No. Although the “Fête de la Musique” has a French name, it is not a music festival for exclusively French or French-speaking music or musicians and is therefore open to all styles – especially from the local music scene. Many cities from non-French-speaking countries translate the name into their own national language (Make Music Day, Festa della Musica). However, as a tribute to France, where the festival originated, the French title is usually retained as a globally unifying brand.
3. When does the “Fête de la Musique” take place?
The “Fête de la Musique” takes place worldwide annually at the calendrical beginning of summer on June 21. In Berlin, in the open air on streets, squares and parks until 10 pm and indoor further with the “Fête de la Nuit” – open end – in clubs, pubs, bars, venues. Of course, the events can also take place during the day indoors.
4. Does the “Fête de la Musique” charge admission?
No. According to the worldwide valid guidelines – the General Agreement – the visit is free of charge and open to the public. The “Fête de la Nuit” – indoors from 10 p.m. in clubs, pubs, bars, venues – also does not charge admission.
5. Where can I find the program for the “Fête de la Musique Berlin” and when will it be published?
The program will be published online on the website. Under the menu item “Program” you can filter by stage, genre, district and time. Likewise, the program will be available as a printed program booklet at various locations free of charge, e.g. at the participating music venues and in the displays of various institutions, pubs, cafés, etc.. Furthermore, a program newspaper will be produced with the street magazine Streem. The program will be published at the beginning of May.
6. Who is organizing the “Fête de la Musique Berlin”? Who are the participants?
There are three main participants. First of all, of course, the musicians. They either play at a fixed music venue (stage) or they roam the streets and spontaneously make music acoustically (street music). Secondly, the official venues (clubs, cafés, cultural centers, associations, initiatives, etc.), which are part of the official program and offer musicians a performance platform. The “Fête de la Musique Berlin” is organized and coordinated by the Musicboard Berlin on behalf of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. Not to forget, of course, the many visitors and music lovers who make the festival a peaceful, cosmopolitan coexistence and unique musical event.
7. What happens when it rains all the time? Singin’ in the Rain…?
“It Never Rains in Southern California” – Maybe, but we are Berlin! One thing is certain: the “Fête de la Musique” will take place in any weather. So put on your weatherproof clothes and head out to the open air stages or to the clubs and established venues! All stage organizers are aware that the weather does not always cooperate and often have a rain option up their sleeve in the form of roofing, tents, umbrellas or indoors. Should individual stages be unable to take place, this will be announced online at short notice.
8. Who organizes the “Fête de la Musique Berlin”?
The “Fête de la Musique Berlin” is organized by the Musicboard Berlin on behalf of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. The Musicboard is a state-owned limited liability company with the task of promoting Berlin’s pop culture. The organization and coordination is carried out by a small core team (curator, administration, coordination of stages & authorities) and an extended team (press, social media/IT, graphics). The tasks of the project team include event marketing, press and public relations, coordination of music venues, official approval procedure, GEMA licensing, organization and implementation of the kick-off event.
9. Who finances the “Fête de la Musique Berlin”? What are the costs for the organization and implementation?
The “Fête de la Musique Berlin” is an event of the state of Berlin. The funds for the organization and implementation are borne 100% by the public sector (budget – Senate Department for Culture and Europe). Most of the costs are for personnel, marketing, press and public relations, website/IT, graphic design, GEMA license fees, organization and implementation of the kick-off event.
10. How can I support a music venue / stage of the “Fête de la Musique Berlin”?
The music venues of the official program of the “Fête de la Musique” organize their stage independently within the framework of a cooperation agreement with the Musicboard Berlin. In this case, costs are incurred for the implementation of the event – especially for technology and logistics – which are borne by the respective cooperation partner. Possible means of covering costs are income from catering, sponsoring, an own marketing budget, association funds, or the like. Contrary to a widespread opinion, a stage at the “Fête de la Musique” does not usually make a profit and the organizers are usually happy if the costs are covered. Offers for sponsoring or support of any kind are very welcome and will be happily handed on to our stage partners. Otherwise the following applies:
Support your Fête-Venue, not the Späti (convenience store) around the corner!
…but then please support your local Späti on the other 364 days of the year! 🙂
11. What possibilities are there to participate as a musician?
The easiest way to participate and follow the spirit of the “Fête de la Musique” is to pick up your instrument or oil your voice, go to the streets, squares or parks and present your skills. Here you can download permits for street musicians. For a performance on one of the stages of the official program you can register at the matchmaking tool, create a profile and get in contact with the stage organisers.
12. How to get to perform on a stage of the official program?
The Musicboard offers a matchmaking tool on the Fête website, where musicians can create a profile and get in contact with the program makers of the stages and music venues. It is also possible to contact an official music venue of the “Fête de la Musique” directly and offer a performance or request free slots.
13. Who decides if and at which music venue a performance will take place?
The stage organizers are responsible and free in their choice of musicians and genres. They ultimately make the decision as to which program and which artists they would like to present.
14. I have found a place where I want to perform. How will this music venue and my performance be included in the official program?
In order to be included in the official program of the “Fête de la Musique Berlin” it is necessary to find a responsible person who registers the location online via the participation form and is available as a cooperation partner. Whether a music venue can participate depends, among other things, on whether there is approval from the authorities. A performance that is planned as part of street music (e.g. in front of your local pub) can be registered informally by mail and will then be announced on the social media channels of FeteBerlin. Information about street music can be found here.
15. Do I have to bring my own equipment (backline, PA)? What does the music venue provide?
What is needed in terms of technology depends largely on the orientation of the music venue and the artists performing. An unplugged singer-songwriter program has different requirements than a line-up with electronic music. Should special equipment be necessary or desirable for the performance, this should be clarified in advance. For this reason, it is important to make clear arrangements with the respective stage organizers in advance.
16. Is street music generally allowed? What do I have to consider?
In principle, street music is allowed during the “Fête de la Musique”, as long as some rules are followed. For example, street music is not permitted in the immediate vicinity of hospitals, nursing homes, memorial sites and similar facilities. Your performance may last a maximum of 60 minutes (after which you may move on to another location). Instruments must be placed in such a way that the nearest residents are not directly exposed to sound (minimum distance 20 meters). Please refer to the guidelines for street music.
17. Why do the musicians not receive a fee for the performance?
The worldwide valid General Agreement regulates that music formations perform at the “Fête de la Musique” without fee and no entrance fee is charged. The basic idea of the “Fête de la Musique” is a free music festival that is open to everyone. A day to celebrate music, without commercial interests! The non-profit idea does not exclude income and explicitly aims to cover costs. This means that stage organizers may use revenues (from catering, third-party funds, etc.) to compensate musicians for expenses.
18. What is the added value of participating in a performance without a fee?
In addition to the fun and enjoyment of music, a large, music-loving audience and thus future fans can be reached at the “Fête de la Musique”. The musicians can also reach many people through social media and the coverage of the classic media. And in a very practical way, you can expand your network to promoters, bookers, other musicians, etc.
19. What does the Musicboard do in terms of promotion for the music acts?
In addition to the program flyer (5,000 copies) and the insert in the street magazine Streem (40,000 print copies and 27,000 readers online) with all the acts in the official program, the entire program is available online on the Fête website. Via social media (more than 40,000 followers on Facebook alone) and the blog on the website, selected music acts are presented with interviews, podcasts and videos. Through extensive press work, the “Fête de la Musique Berlin” program achieves diverse coverage in the classic media.
20. How does it work with GEMA?
The stage organizers undertake to collect the GEMA music forms from the musicians and to transmit them collectively to the Musicboard. The Musicboard takes care of the entire process with GEMA and also assumes any costs for licensing fees. On this basis, GEMA then distributes the royalties to the music authors.
For Music Locations / Organisers
21. How does a music venue become part of the official program?
If you would like to organize a stage as part of the “Fête de la Musique Berlin”, you can apply online via the participation form without obligation. The applications will be checked for feasibility and in a joint discussion we will discuss how a music venue can be made possible. The Musicboard reserves the right to cancel an application for various reasons. Reasons include, for example, no prospect of official approval for open-air venues, music venues in the immediate vicinity (within earshot), non-compliance with the General Agreement, the values of the “Fête de la Musique” or the Basic Law.
22. What kind of music locations are possible?
Indoor (clubs, cultural venues, etc.) and outdoor locations (private and public areas) are basically possible. However, the “Fête de la Musique” is a music festival which, according to the basic idea (General Agreement), should take place mainly outdoors and in the open air. A stage program after 10 p.m. can only take place indoors, in accordance with the official permits of the environmental authorities. All music venues must be barrier-free and accessible with free admission.
23. What should be considered when choosing a music venue?
In general, attention must be paid to noise protection. In addition to the general measures (e.g. sound direction, volume) to protect residents and neighbors, there are also facilities deemed worthy of protection (hospitals, nursing homes, memorials, etc.) that exclude use. All open air music venues require a permit from the environmental authorities, and in the case of public areas, a permit from the street and green space authorities (Grünflächenämter) is also required. Also, there should be no other stage within earshot. The size of the area or space should be sufficient so that the flow of visitors does not cause conflicts with passers-by and traffic routes (footpaths, cycle paths, roads) remain clear at all times.
24. I am planning a road closure at my music venue. What do I need to consider?
A road closure incurs high costs (fees, traffic sign plan, means of closure, security personnel, etc.) and means additional organizational effort. The authorities often refuse to close a road or impose strict conditions (especially if public transport lines are affected). For this reason, the Musicboard generally advises against road closures.
25. How can I make my music venue sustainable and climate-neutral?
There are many ways to make a music venue sustainable and climate neutral. Starting points can be: energy (use of green electricity), mobility (call for the use of public transport and bicycles, use of cargo bikes for logistics), resources (waste avoidance, reusable and deposit systems), catering (organic food, cooperation with regional suppliers), space (cleaning, measures to avoid soil compaction in green areas). For this purpose, the Musicboard offers recommendations for action and checklists, as well as workshops on the topic of “Greener Fête”.
26. What are the costs of organizing a music venue?
A blanket or even more precise numerical statement cannot be made here, as music venues can be very different. From a “music carpet” with an unplugged program, to a very large show with a covered festival stage, many things are imaginable. Possible costs arise primarily from technology and logistics (sound, lighting, stage), official permits (fees), insurance (organizer’s liability), sanitary facilities, security measures, waste disposal and cleaning, etc.. The personnel and organizational effort also uses up resources, depending on the scope of the planning.
Participation in itself – as a music venue within the framework of the “Fête de la Musique” – is not subject to a fee.
27. What permits do I need for a music venue?
If you want to use an area on a public street or green space for a music venue, you need a permit from the relevant district office. For this purpose, an informal application for special use of public street land according to the Berlin Street Law and for permission according to §29 StVO must be submitted. For the operation of catering stands, a permit (e.g. permission according to §12 GastG for the sale of alcoholic beverages) must be obtained from the responsible public order office. The permits must be applied for independently, no later than 9 weeks before the event. The fees are to be paid by the applicants.
The necessary permits from the environmental authorities according to §11 LImSchG Bln (for all open air music venues – private and public areas) will be obtained by the Musicboard from the relevant district offices. There are no costs involved.
28. Can I design my own stage program?
Yes, stage organizers are free to choose their own artists and genres. In the interest of the visitors, a certain length of the program or the number of performances should be taken into account and sufficient breaks should be planned for alterations. The Musicboard offers mediation of musicians via the matchmaking tool.
29. Can I sell food and drinks at my music venue?
Yes, the organizers of a music venue organize the catering themselves and obtain the necessary official permits on their own responsibility (e.g. permission according to §12 GastG for the sale of alcoholic beverages). The number of catering stands should be appropriate to the location and the expected number of visitors. However, as a music festival – unlike street festivals, for example – only a limited number of stands are usually permitted by the authorities as part of the “Fête de la Musique”. It is not advisable to operate a catering stand without official permission, as the public order offices carry out regular inspections.
30. Do I have to register my stage with GEMA and pay license fees?
No. The Musciboard takes care of the entire handling with the GEMA and also takes over the costs for the license fees. The organizers are only obliged to collect the GEMA music sequences of the musicians and to send them collectively to the Musicboard.
ATTENTION: Parallel TV broadcasting (TV, big screens) of soccer championships or other major events are not included.