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“We, the event organisers, are the connectors in the creative sector”

Ralph Christoph of c/o pop in an interview with us.

The Cologne c/o pop has already been around for 20 years now and has just been granted the Pop Culture Award. We spoke with co-founder Ralph Christoph to enquire what currently makes the festival stand out and where the journey will take it next.

GVL: The c/o pop has just been granted the GVL-sponsored Pop Culture Award in the category “Practised Pop Culture”. What does this mean for c/o pop and yourself?


Ralph Christoph
Ralph Christoph (© Lioba Schneider)

Ralph Christoph: If you have been developing a project (and I am choosing the term “project” quite deliberately in this case) such as c/o pop for more than 20 years with all of its highs and lows, then you can say that this is exactly what it was awarded for: practised pop culture. In this respect, we were extremely excited and happy to receive the award in this very category! For us, this shows the great appreciation of our work and also proves that our impact reaches beyond the borders of Cologne. At the same time, such an award is of course also motivating us and spurring us on to continue on this path, that is to continue organising c/o pop sustainably and aligned with the needs of our festival and convention visitors.

You celebrated your 20th anniversary and are way past being wet behind the ears. What’s the direction of travel for the festival?

Since the 2022 instalment, we carry the subline “Festival for Pop Culture” in the title and thus clarify that c/o pop is more than just a music festival. We all know that there has never been that much music in circulation as now; however, we also know that the manner the where, how and when music is consumed has undergone drastic changes, respectively completely new channels and opportunities have opened up in this respect. We take this fact into account by allocating the concept of an “experience” to a large part of the programme. They are, as such, rather untypical formats for festival, but music is always playing a role. By doing so, and of course with the corresponding musical booking, we managed to attract significantly younger target audiences to the festival and to enthuse them for such a format.

GVL is going to feature at the c/o pop once more in 2024. Why is it also important that it is not just the creatives, i.e. artists and labels are on board, but also the umbrella associations and collective management organisations?

We as event organisers are the connectors between the creative sector participants, all stakeholders of the music business, artists and the audience. Only if all participants manage to develop a better understanding for the context, will it be possible for us to develop a better and fairer music business. This does not just apply to potential next gen talent looking for an entry point into the music business during the c/o pop convention but also for consumers and those attending the festival in general. The fact that GVL is now a permanent partner for us in this undertaking and shows its presence at the event, is a rather important step on this journey.