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3 questions for... Gerald Mertens

We asked Gerald Mertens, the Managing Director of the German Orchestra Association (DOV) three questions on the exceptional year 2020 and his plans for 2021.
Gerald Mertens
Gerald Mertens © Maren Strehlau

One year of corona: How would you summarise it?  

The tough cutbacks of live performances in the context of the lockdowns have made it clear to all parties involved how much the entire sector requires a stage and an audience. 85 percent loss of turnover in the year 2020 for performing arts represent the maximum credible accident, 2021 is not looking like it is going to be much better. Only a small segment of permanently employed performers and ensembles on the radio as well as publicly sponsored theatre and concert companies have survived the situation more or less unscathed. But the entire sector of freelancers, solopreneurs and many other smaller and medium-sized enterprises from the cultural and event area as well as many small music publishers are hit incredibly hard when it comes to their existence. This continues to really worry me a lot and we do need temporary state support. 

What is your perspective for cultural life in 2021 and beyond?

I hope that after the pandemic has eased off, people will have such a great need for live events that the demand goes through the roof. This is, however, not likely to happen before 2022. In 2021, I expect that we will have a rather dry spell ahead of us. In any case, corona has triggered a massive digitisation push for the music industry which will also help to increase the reach and coverage of cultural offerings. I am curious which innovative formats which were created during the corona crisis will also lead to a new cultural diversity in future.

In my view, one significant development is that the use of streaming services has grown very fast due to the corona lockdown. This means that an existing trend has thus been extremely accelerated. In fact, the good old video shop has been replaced by Netflix & Co, and streaming nearly completely replaced the rental and lending segments. From the view of the creatives and their partners, we support a fair and adequate remuneration from the streaming providers. 

This year, the rights holders of GVL will elect their representatives. What are, in your view, the most important topics that GVL will need to focus on over the next four years?

An important issue for GVL will be to continue automating the IT processes in the coming years so that the rights holders can enjoy even better, more transparent and more comfortable registration and distribution services.