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10/18/2020 6:57:41 PM

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10/17/2020 8:25:52 AM

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CURRENT AND NEXT GIGS
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THE NEXT BANDS ON STAGE
Signed up 28 August 2020 at 19:50

Velvet Scream

Metal
United Kingdom
Signed up 23 July 2020 at 06:40

Saboteurs

Alternative rock
United Kingdom
Signed up 15 May 2020 at 14:48

Mark Wright

Alternative indie
United Kingdom
Next bands around the globe
Signed up 6 hours ago

Jei XoniX Flames

Hip Hop
Norway
Signed up 10 hours ago

RUSALEN

Folk
Russia
NEWS

MEETING WITH RALF KOTOWSKI, RECORD LABEL HEAD-HANCHO AND MUSIC FAN

The German Columbia-Sony General Manager speaks about music, new bands and Emergenza Festival



It´s a Thursday in Berlin, just a few days before Christmas. We´re meeting with Ralf Kotowski, General Manager of Columbia-Germany, in his office at the new SONY Center on the Potsdamer Platz. Ralf Kotowski has signed two of Emergenza’s bands - the EMIL BULLS (Germany, for Mercury/Universal), and SINCERE (Belgium, out on Columbia in spring 2003) and was one of the people responsible for the Emergenza-Columbia scouting deal. We ask him about Columbia-Germany’s goals and ways of doing business to get a first impression about the company. He tells us that Sony Music Germany has been divided into two departments, international and domestic. One of the advantages is that promotional activities for artists signed in Germany can be arranged independently, instead of being forced to follow strict publication guidelines from England and America. The domestic half includes Epic, concentrating on pop & dance and producing singles, and Columbia, which focuses on artist development and full-length recordings. Columbia covers a wide range of styles from pop and rock to electronic, innovative and sometimes linked to certain music scenes or movements. Their goal is to find exceptional artists with great future potential, to help bring them up to this level, and of course to do all this in an economical way. Columbia Domestic signs between 2 to 8 groups a year. At the moment there are 16 bands under contract. As you can imagine, you don´t just become the head of a major company overnight, so this is what young Kotowski did: being drawn to music ever since high school, he started working for Sony Publishing nine years ago, first as a soundplugger (someone who tries to make artists perform songs, that one of the signed musicians has written), then as an A&R (artist & relation). After 3 1/2 years he went to work as an A&R for Columbia, two years later for Mercury/Universal, and a year ago went back to Columbia again. Even though he is now the General Manager, he still does some of the A&R work, because that´s how he got started and that´s where his heart is. He, or one of the other two A&Rs with Columbia, continue to listen to EVERY demo that is sent to them. How did he find out about Emergenza? “I was interested in the EMIL BULLS, the 1998 second place winner at the Emergenza festival. Andrea Petricca from Emergenza-Germany introduced them to me.“ After signing them, we got to know Ralf better, and he was invited to the European Finals to be on the jury. This is where he first saw SINCERE. He realized the amazing potential that lies within the festival, and also the fact that it was still unexploited by the industry. An A&R, or even a team of scouts, couldn’t see and evaluate so many good bands all at once. And of course, there´s no other competition that compares size-wise, he says. These thoughts finally lead us to the scouting deal Emergenza and Columbia agreed on. So…….. anytime a exceptionally good band is heard at the festival, Ralf is the first record label manager to be called. At Emergenza, he gets to see the bands perform live, the poses, the appearance, if they can win a crowd over, and carry it all off with style. There’s no hiding behind a good or bad production of a demo-CD. And something else: If a band gets far in the competition, it proves to him that they are really into it. “I know there are people complaining that Emergenza bands have to motivate their friends to come, and do a lot of the promotional work, etc. But to us, it’s an important factor. You might play well, but if you attract only your girlfriend and your brother, then you´re not ready to sign a major deal. Working the local scene, building a fan-base, taking over some of the responsibilities of marketing and promotion, we expect a band to bring all of this when they come to us. You just don’t get started by pressing a button“. In a time when the music industry is facing many difficulties the companies need to be sure that the bands that