Submitted by Peter Astedt
This was the 19th edition of the c/o pop Festival in Cologne, Germany. It’s well established but still is in a lot of development. Like many of the showcase festivals this year they almost had to do a restart. A new area and a new conference space were the big new editions this year. Many of the old visitors also said it was the biggest c/o pop Festival so far and that they had done a giant leap in all sections of the festival.
c/o pop Festival goes on for a staggering five days, Wednesday to Sunday. The conference part is mainly on Thursday and Friday and during the weekend it’s mainly music and the festival closes off streets in the area Ehrenfeld and turns it into a great street festival and club scene.
Cologne has an impressive scene of small clubs and live music venues. But the scene is threatened by the usual problems. When an area becomes cool the prices go up and new development of houses tends to destroy the buildings and areas that hold these clubs that make the area cool in the first place. In the Ehrenfeld area, there is still a great amount of them but just over the pandemic, the city lost over 30 clubs. Much from the development of new houses and office space.
c/o pop Festival has been famous for being a German festival for German business. That still shines through in some aspects, many of the panels and gatherings are still in German or just for German industry. Still, they have an impressive amount of international delegates from Europe and even a Canadian delegation. There were plenty of opportunities to get meetings with these and the German industry.
c/o pop Festival is definitely in the league of the so important midsize festivals. Like many of the festivals, we visited after the pandemic the conversation among the new industry professionals is how important the mega-events really are? In Germany, you can say that c/o pop Festival is the showcase for Germany while Reeperbahn mainly positions itself to be the showcase festival for Europe.
But the problem is rising for the mega-events like Reeperbahn, SXSW, Primavera Sound and The Great Escape. We can just take a look at the French Midem which was the leading global festival for many decades, but this year had to throw in the towel. During c/o pop Festival we got news out that have been bought up by the city of Cannes and reported to be back 2023. The problem for Midem is just what we now see the gossip is about the other big ones. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, Midem was a must for anyone who was working led to less business being done.
The problem with the mega festivals is that they are too big. The leading professionals see how they can’t do business since the share size make it’s impossible to have the time to make the real business meetings and hangouts. Instead, they just become expensive trips for semi-professionals that go on a charter tour just hanging with people from their own country, thinking they are cool since they attended a mega event. That in the end was the end of Midem; suddenly people found other places, less attendance, smaller events but with more business.
The talk of the town is the mid-size festivals are taking over. There are so many of them and you need to visit several throughout the year to be able to create good business while the bigger become less important. c/o pop Festival is on the path to becoming one of these important hubs to visit if you are dealing with central Europe and have a focus on the GAS territory. The midsize delivers better contacts, better business, better opportunity, and in that c/o pop Festival is one of the front runners. I guess it will be part of a couple of festivals that you have to visit to control certain areas.
The future will tell, but c/o pop Festival has already earned its place as one of the important mid-size hub, where business dealings and connections are successfully executed.