The third annual Berlin Music Days will take place at dozens of venues around Berlin from November 2nd through the 6th.
Just as it did in the last two years, BerMuDa's 2011 program includes events at clubs all over the city—this year more than 40 are participating—and will culminate with Fly BerMuDa, a one-night festival at Tempelhof Airport. The daytime schedule includes panels and workshops on a range of industry topics, from Ableton tutorials to broad discussions on the state of Berlin's music scene. Unlike most conferences, no registration is required: daytime events are open to anyone who's interested (entrance is either cheap or free), and clubs will charge their usual door fees, with no special preference for delegates.
Reached last week at his office in Kreuzberg, Uli Wombacher, one of BerMuDa's organizers, told us more about the conference and its goals:
What is BerMuDa?
A week of events focused on electronic music, featuring all the relevant Berlin clubs. Plus a new form of music trade fare that is organized by the scene itself and totally independent, without any government funding. The goal is to put even more focus on Berlin's electronic music scene, and more specifically the business side. Berlin is on the map for everyone already, but it doesn't have a single event presenting everything at once. With BerMuDa you get to experience the city's authentic music scene in a single week, and on a totally independent and non-commercialized level.
Why is Berlin a good city to stage this kind of event?
Other cities are limited in terms of the number of clubs they have and the freedom that's afforded them. Berlin offers so much—in our third year we already have 40 clubs involved and still not everyone is participating. So multiply 40 clubs by five days, and you have so much opportunity for events, without having to put in too much money. If you look at Europe or the world, Berlin is one of the most interesting places to host this kind of event.
Tell me why BerMuDa doesn't have official registration.
BerMuDa is an open concept. We don't limit anyone by having a price of 200 or 300 Euro to attend. Everyone can participate: if you want to put on an event, you just contact Bermuda and they find a location for you to represent your label or your artist. For clubbers and ravers, you don't need any pass, you just go to the club and pay entrance. If we offered a pass that gives entrance to all clubs in one night, it would destroy the spirit of the clubs. And with Berlin it's still cheap to pay entrance at a few different clubs.
As for the panels, you can just show up and participate. Some cost money—for instance, All Together Now costs four euro—and some have limited space. It doesn't make sense to have 100 people in an Ableton workshop. But the panels and the workshops, even though they are reasonably cheap, are still intended for people that are very interested in music already, it's not just for having a look.
How does BerMuDa help Berlin's club scene?
With young people there's already a focus on Berlin as an interesting city, especially among tourists. But on the economic side, the club scene and the electronic scene and the business that has grown around it are not seen as a relevant part of the city overall. We want to put a focus on club culture for the people on the outside that would normally see us less as an industry and more as a bunch of freaks.
We can't get this kind of attention unless we put on this huge event with everyone participating and setting up a trade fare. BerMuDa creates a buzz that pops up in the normal media, they do reports on us on TV news. They wouldn't report on something like Carl Craig at Berghain, but they will do a report on him playing during, "BerMuDa, Berlin's electronic music industry conference." So we get noticed by people that wouldn't normally care.
As you see, Berlin has superb events all year, but still the clubs are not valued very highly by the city, we're still chased out of the city centre by gentrification. They wouldn't move the opera house out the center, and I don't think they should move Berghain or Weekend either. So we're trying to stand up against all that a bit. We want to stand up and say, "We're part of the Berlin culture and we want to stay."