Echo Abolished, Germany's Classical Music Business Launches New Awards

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Farid Bang and Kollegah perform on stage during the Echo Award show at Messe Berlin on April 12, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

New award shows for pop and jazz will be announced later.

With the Echo Awards a thing of the past, Germany's classical music business -- from major labels to indies, to publishers and concert promoters -- has announced the launch of a new event called the Opus Klassik. The awards, to be handed out Oct. 14 in Berlin, are independent from the German Association of the Music Industry (BVMI), which used to stage the Echo Awards before their cancellation earlier this year due to a highly publicized anti-Semitism scandal.

Florian Drücke, BVMI chairman said to Billboard today: "Following the events at this years Echo Pop, the board decided to abolish all three Echos" and support a new structure, driven by new organizer, the newly founded society for the promotion of classical music. "We wish them a lot of success! It is good that our members united with people from the wider classical sector and that the Opus Klassik award now represents an even wider part of the business. That is a good requirement for the future."

Drücke also pointed out that the other two music awards under the Echo banner, for pop and jazz, will also be independent from the BVMI. Further details about those events will be disclosed in the near future, Drücke said.

The German TV channel ZDF will broadcast the new Opus Klassik gala from the Berlin Konzerthaus on Oct. 14. That was reported by the newly founded society for the promotion of classical music, organizer of the event. Members of the society are among others Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Music and Warner Music as well as the association of independent labels CLASS. In the first year, the rules for the award and the jury will still mirror those of the abolished Echo Klassik. Following that, the regulations will be reworked in order to have a bigger focus on classical music.

"Classical music and its artists must be honoured in Germany with its own award," said Burkhard Glashoff, CEO of the new society, adding that the Opus Klassik aims to reflect the variety of the classical music business in Germany.

"The classic business is in no way responsible for the damage" inflicted by events at the Echo Pop awards, said Glashoff. Following the anti-semitism scandal centered around controversial rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, who both performed and won at the event, the BVMI abolished the Echo. The rappers got the Echo award in the category Hip-Hop/Urban National despite lyrics such as "my body is more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates."

The BVMI welcomed that with the Opus Klassik a new award for classical music has been founded in Germany. "With the start of the new society for the promotion of classical music a new structure for a new classic award has been found," added Drücke.


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