Haus Music: From lef: Top selling German artist Unheilig's Der Graf ("The Count:) with Frank Briegmann, CEO of Universal GSA (Photo: Michael Kucharski, Universal)
Germans are apparently rediscovering their language--at least in music.
For the past ten years, U.K.- and U.S.-produced albums have dominated the album charts, from Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Bruno Mars to U2, Coldplay and Eminem. But something in 2010-2011 changed in the German music consumers' purchasing habits. Suddenly, up to eight German albums have begun regularly making the top ten.
49 percent of the top ten albums were by German artists and a minority (48.6%) of the German top one-hundred album charts were by international musicians, acording to the trade magazine "Der Musikmarkt." The study, which looked at the album charts for the first three quarters of 2011, show that 52.12% were national and only 46% were international productions. But, as "Der Musikmarkt"'s editor-in-chief Stefan Zarges told Billboard, "The last three months of 2011 are also dominated by German product."
Frank Adler, a music purchaser at the WOM record shop in Cologne says that, "music is being bought by older people who do not illegally download music. At the same time we are seeing viewership of national radio and TV shows increasing."
Since 2010, a number of German artists have reached the million-in-sales threshold. In fact, the act Unheilig with the album "Große Freiheit" (Universal) sold 2.6 million units; Peter Fox's "Stadtaffe" (Warner) hit the 2-million-units mark; and two female singers -- Andrea Berg "Schwerelos" (Sony) and Helene Fischer (EMI) with her three albums "Best Of," "Für einen Tag", and "So wie ich bin" - each sold 1.5 million albums. Additionally, artists such as Peter Maffay "Tattoo" (Sony), Lena Meyer-Landrut with " My Cassette Player" (Universal) and Udo Lindenberg with "MTV Unplugged: Live from the Hotel Atlantic" (Warner) each sold over 700,000 albums in 2010-2011.
Even German newcomers are experiencing an upturn in sales in 2011: Pietro Lombardi sold over 300,000 copies of "Jackpot" (Universal); and Tim Bendzko sold over 250,000 albums of "Wenn Worte meine Sprache wären" (Sony).
"The esteem Germans have for their own artists and productions has steadily increased," Frank Briegmann, CEO of the market leader Universal GSA in Berlin, told Billboard.biz. "In 2011 Universal had great success with Unheilig, Pietro Lombardi and Lena -- 3 of 8 national productions in the top ten. Germany, Austria and Switzerland are the biggest connected language and cultural regions if Europe. In international licensing, Universal GSA is number three of all Universal affiliates directly after USA and UK."
Bernd Dopp, Chairman & CEO, Warner Music Central & Eastern Europe in Hamburg, had a different take on the phenomenon. "Globalization instinctively gives rise to a desire to preserve local and regional culture," he said, 'including music and language. This trend can be seen in many countries. Furthermore, productions in Germany, such as "Stadtaffe" by Peter Fox or Udo Lindenberg's "MTV Unplugged - live aus dem Hotel Atlantik" have reached international standards."
Philip Ginthör, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment GSA, Sony Music Entertainment Germany, Munich emphasized his company's greater ability to break young German acts. "With Jupiter Jones and Tim Bendzko," he siad, "we broke two German language newcomers and reached gold status. The debut-album of Caspar, a German hip hop artist went directly from 0 to 1." Sony als released the single "Mr. Saxobeat" by Alexandra Stan which went to number one in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Finland and Denmark and went gold and platinum in several countries.
Another massive contributing factor to increased domestic music consumption has been, naturally, the Internet. As Wolfgang Hanebrink, Chairman & Head of Commercial Develpment GSA EMI Music Germany in Cologne points out, "Social media and video platforms are playing an important role. EMI-million-seller Helene Fischer, for example, is in the top 20 in Denmark and top 50 in the Netherlands. We are also seeing increased demand for German language product in South Africa and Australia because of many German immigrants. "
Universal's Briegmann also explained how important it is to break domestic acts overseas. "The breaking of national acts has always been the [most important goal] for Universal," he says. "and the marketing of our repertoire abroad is an important aspect and when our artists have been able to perform live, for example Rammstein or Tokio Hotel, we have done well."
In 2010, the German market had a total revenue of 1.7 billion euro ($2.3.billion).