HAMBURG — The four-day long Reeperbahn Festival, the annual conference and concert event that this year focused on the U.S., closed Saturday night with the Anchor Award ceremony.
For the last seven years, the prize for up-and-coming acts has spotlighted six finalists that perform for a live audience, one of which has been chosen as the winner by a jury, which this year consisted of Tayla Parx, Tony Visconti, Pabllo Vittar, Pelle Almqvist, Bill Kaulitz, and Joy Denalane. This year, the British bedroom-pop band Cassia won over finalists EKKSTACY (Canada), Lime Garden (U.K.), VLURE (Scotland), Philine Sonny (Germany), and The Haunted Youth (Belgium).
This year, the festival’s first fully in-person event since 2019, the U.S. was the partner country, and panels and showcases spotlighted the business there. For the first time, Billboard was a media partner and hosted a panel about the U.S. market moderated by deputy editorial director Robert Levine, with publishing reporter Kristin Robinson and hip-hop and R&B reporter Heran Mamo. Billboard also hosted a reception with the Music Business Association, which was one of many U.S. organizations that sent executives to the event, along with A2IM (American Association of Independent Music), AIMP (American Association of Independent Music Publishers), and MMF US (Music Managers Forum).
“I was blown away by the quality of the connections I was able to make there! I met high-level executives from a number of European music companies whom I’ve never met before,” said Music Business Association president Portia Sabin. “Overall attending Reeperbahn was a great professional experience and I’m looking forward to returning next year.”
The Anchor Awards began with a notable performance from jury member Pabllo Vittar, a Brazilian pop sensation and drag performer who brought the crowd to its feet with a choreographed performance.
Another highlight, aside from live performances by the finalists, came when hosts Aminata Belli and Steve Gätjen spotlighted the crucial work of stagehands and other live music professionals. After two years of hybrid programming due to COVID-19, the Reeperbahn Festival did not shy away from mentioning the challenges of throwing an event that this year included 400 concerts and drew more than 40,000 attendees, especially after so many live music professionals left the field during the pandemic.
“We won’t be able to go to concerts like these if people like you do not exist,” Gätjen says to the event’s staff. “We need you.”