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Expert Interview: Bernie Schick - On tour since the 80s

Bernie Schick began his music career in the 1980s while studying classical music in Mainz. As a bass player in new wave bands and as a sound engineer in clubs, he soon became well known and a permanent fixture on tours with certain bands. He has been working for FKP Scorpio since 2000, where he looks after renowned acts such as Billy Talent, The Kooks, Kate Nash and Madsen.

Published on
May 7, 2024
Author
Tymon Napp-Molinski
Working Student Marketing

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What is your background / your story? How did you get into the music business?

In the early 80's, I started studying classical music at the conservatory in Mainz. As a balance to classical music, I played bass in various New Wave bands. The first concert of my band was a festival appearance in Fulda in 1982. I organised the festival myself. The then-headliner, DIE CRACKERS from Wiesbaden, I then regularly organised in various clubs. Since I really didn't make any money from that, I had to work as a sound technician at a PA company and as a house technician in a club in Fulda.

With the bands that played there, including Die Goldenen Zitronen, I then went on tour. Quite quickly, I had fixed bands with whom I regularly toured as a sound technician or tour manager. With the English band Toy Dolls, I even went on several tours through Europe, Japan, North and South America.

Who have been important supporters, mentors and partners on your journey so far?

Michael Löffler (now at Target Concerts) gave me my first jobs as a tour manager so I could go on tour. Since 1990, I have been working as a manager for THE BATES and therefore had the opportunity to work as a product manager at Virgin Records in 1995. Udo Lange, the then boss of Virgin, had a very big influence on my job at the label and also as a manager. After THE BATES disbanded in 2000, I moved to Hamburg and started working at FKP Scorpio. Folkert Koopmans (founder of FKP Scorpio) has certainly been the most important supporter of my professional career since then.

What does your job look like today? What are the most important/most needed skills?

I deal with artist agents and managers every day to plan, book and put tours on sale. In the evenings, I regularly go to shows to meet with the bands I work for. You need to have a certain degree of organisational skills and, of course, be able to assess financial risks. Seeing or hearing new trends in time is also part of it, but unfortunately, it doesn't always work.

What have been the biggest challenges and learnings for you so far? Can you share some "highs" and "lows"?

A big challenge is to continually adapt to the sensitivities of agents, managers and musicians and to react accordingly quickly. Highs for a promoter are clearly the shows themselves i.e. when everything works at a concert as you planned, the band and the audience are happy, and the show is also a financial success for all involved.

What trends do you currently see in the music industry that could become a big or important thing?

In the last 10 years, the listening habits of music fans have changed so much through Spotify, YouTube etc. that it is no longer worth it for record companies to build up an artist. Fast reactions are needed and songs must be published song by song to have quick successes. If a song doesn't work, the next artist comes around the corner with a new song. A real connection between music fans and artists is then unfortunately no longer possible and I fear that in the future we will have to search long and hard for the new Coldplay or Metallica and artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele - and this development is already noticeable for festivals when looking for headliners...

What would be your advice to musicians who are thinking about a music career today or have already taken the first steps?

Unfortunately, there is no universally valid recipe for musicians. Playing live a lot will always be one of the most important building blocks in a band's career, alongside a top social media presence with song releases and videos. You have to write to the relevant clubs, promoters, managers and agencies and annoy them and continue even after a rejection.

Thanks for the interview, Bernie :)

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