Popkomm has a new venue, a new setting as part of Berlin Music Week, and much of the first day of the 2010 edition was spent discussing new business models.

During a low-key first day of panels at the revamped conference, held for the first time since 2008, the key presentation featured PRS for Music chief economist Will Page and Steffen Wicker, founder of German streaming service Simfy. They discussed the fledgling German streaming business and what it can learn from the United Kingdom, where services like Spotify and We7 are now a key part of the music landscape.

According to Wicker, Simfy became the German streaming market leader within 10 weeks of its May launch, over-taking the likes of Napster, and now has 2 million users, with 2,000 people signing up each day. It has licensed music from all four majors and, crucially with GEMA, the German collection society. GEMA takes a notoriously hardline over digital licensing and remains in dispute with YouTube over streaming rates and the transparency of payments.

Wicker said the Simfy deal was down to a "willingness to compromise on both sides - something YouTube and others may not be willing to do."

Simfy, which operates both ad-funded and subscription services, launched in Switzerland during August and Wicker plans a launch in Austria before the end of the year, with other markets to follow. The service also plans to introduce reduced rates for students.

Page warned the importance of new digital models was often over-stated -- "We spend 95% of our time talking about 5% of our business" -- but unveiled statistics from some services that he says show the models are making headway. This included research showing consumers who use Spotify the most are also the most likely to graduate to its paid service, and that Pandora now accounts for 2% of all radio listening across all formats, with independent labels accounting for 30-40% of all plays on the service.

Pandora quit the U.K. in 2008, citing excessive fees, but Page said he hoped the service would return. PRS has since lowered its minimum rates per play, part of what Page called its policy to "stoke revenues not choke services."

The earlier "Survival Vs Sustainability - Building A New Economical Ecosystem" panel, however, warned that artists have to show increased commitment in order to still make a living out of music.

"Never assume it's going to happen," said Swedish artists Moto Boy. "You've got to work," - although he also warned: "I'd rather be a juggler than compromise my music - otherwise you might as well be BP and fuck up an ocean somewhere."

Popkomm itself - cancelled in 2009 due to poor ticket sales - seemed lively enough, with plenty of traffic on the trade fair floor and little sign of available space for trade stands. However, sources at some national stands suggested fewer companies had made the trip than in previous years.

The event, held this year at Berlin's former Templehof Airport, continues tomorrow.