SUMMERJAM 2005 - 20th Anniversary


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Summerjam is arguable one of the biggest Reggae event of its kind not only in Germany but in the whole of Europe . Each year for the past 20 years, the event brings together popular and talented music artists in the Reggae, African, Hip Hop and Dance Hall music sector to perform live. The relaxed, festival atmosphere of the event attracts visitors from all parts of Germany as well as Europe . Meanwhile, the Summerjam is like a melting point of people from all cultures who love Reggae/Black music and like to enjoy the groove in a big community. The year 2005 marked the 20th anniversary of Summerjam. A long list of acclaimed artists performed to the delight of over 30.000 visitors. The event that took place from the 8th till 10th July ended with fireworks to celebrate two decades of success with the public. AFRITOPIC met the initiator of Summerjam, Klaus Maack for an interview at his office in Stuttgart .

Summerjam was initiated 20 years ago out of love for Reggae and African music. Klaus Maac, the director of Contour Music Promotion was engaged in organising bookings for diverse music concerts and managing music concert events. But he was a down to earth lover of Reggae and African music. At that time, he noticed that there were no concerts offered specifically for the Reggae and African music. He decided to organize a concert to fill the niche. The first event took place on a very small location with a few visitors. Within a few years, the information about the event got around quickly and the number of visitors increased drastically. With the number of visitors increasing, the list of popular artists performing at the event got longer and the popularity of Reggae and African music grew. The initial location of the event became too small to accommodate visitors and the organizers had to find a new venue. Eventually, a large premise with a beautiful landscape which offers camping possibilities was found at the Fuehlinger See in Cologne , Germany .
It was not all that easy in the beginning. Contour Music Promotion had to apply its knowledge in the Pop music concert industry to build up contacts to the Reggae and African music artists. Information from business partners and record companies were helpful. Listening to music from diverse artists was useful in collecting information about artists and their type of music. All necessary channels were employed to gain contracts with artists to perform at the Summerjam events. One of the big names in African music at the beginning was Manu Dibango. Klaus Maac was very impressed by Dibangoís 1972 hit ďSoul MakossaĒ. He quickly established contact with the Cameroonian artist in Paris and contracted him for a music concert tour in Germany . The event marked the first music concert tour organized by him. Klaus worked together with music producers who modernised and created different versions of original Reggae/African music. He started introducing the music to the German public by organizing live Reggae/African music in discotheques and clubs. With this strategy, he was able to sell the shows and concerts to the German public. Klaus not only loves Reggae/African music, he is also a fan of the continent Africa . He has travelled extensively in Africa visiting, Ethiopia , Kenya , Morocco and Tunisia .  




Reggae music itself is a matter of feeling according to Klaus. The root is in Africa but the exposure started in the Caribbean , particularly Jamaica . One could imagine that in the beginning the type of music was not the taste of many in Germany/Europe. However, with time the music attracted more fans that started assimilating the Reggae feelings. These fans became Reggae evangelists spreading the news about the music. Non-Jamaican artists started learning the structure of Reggae music and today there are European artists who are into Reggae and African music. These artists either compose Reggae/African music themselves or build alliances with Reggae/African music groups. In Germany for example, the German music artist Gentleman is an acclaimed Reggae artist with a very large fan base. The Reggae and African music have now gained acceptance and lovers in many European households. The music exudes warmth and induces a feeling of togetherness. It invites people to join the community; the community of peace and love.

The Reggae music has undergone various developments and changes. The original rhythms from the earlier days have been mixed with elements from other music genre. Reggae tunes mixed with Soul, Funk, Pop, Hip Hop and Rap in different languages are not uncommon. Disc Jockeys in big metropolitans like London , Paris or Munich have created Reggae sounds to serve the taste of their discotheque fans.
Summerjam has grown into a very big event. This proves the success of the concept and thanks to all visitors that make the festival a success. The visitors create the festival atmosphere that is conducive to community party and specific to the Summerjam. However, there are now new generation of visitors who are fans of new generation of music artists. Contour Music can therefore no longer afford to engage only the old big names in the Root Reggae/African music sector. Engaging younger generation of music artists in the Reggae and related music sector for the Summerjam is now vital for the financial success of the event. This is due to the fact that the event is solely financed through ticket sales. At least 20.000 tickets have to be sold to cover the cost. Media entertainment firms like MTV and Viva are only interested in covering the event but not in sponsoring it. These firms categorize Summerjam as a niche market which is not on their priority list.
Amadou & Mariam
The Summerjam event strives to find the right balance of music artists that would attract both young and old visitors. The event should provide opportunities for people with taste for a particular type of music to hear other types of music. It is not only Reggae that is offered. The music performances include African music, Hip Hop and Dance Hall. Depending on cost, both popular and emerging artists are contracted for the yearly event. Contour Music Promotion pays the highest fees to motivate music bands to come to Germany and perform at the Summerjam. It is usually easier to engage a band that is scheduled for Europe tour and could include performance at the Summerjam in its plan.
An organization or a person who wants to organize an event comparable to Summerjam needs the necessary contacts to the entertainment industry, insider information, negotiating skills, dedicated pubic relation and advertisement team, information and advice from the law enforcement office as well as support from a security agency. Moreover, the person must have strong will and staying power. It is business and risk is part of every business. Klaus Maack had his share of unfavourable period, when his business flopped and he had to declare bankruptcy. Referring to the event business, Thorsten, a young man who has been working for Contour Music promotion for a couple of years said that he would not attempt to start a new business on his own. He believes that the business is very demanding and only somebody like Klaus Maack with a lot of experience and contacts could survive in the sector. It would be difficult for a newcomer in the business to secure contracts with popular music stars that attract huge crowd. He is also of the opinion that the mainstream media cover the Summerjam event only for advertisement purposes; the event is popular and viewers that connect to the media channels to watch the event are fed with advertising spots.






Klaus Maack, the initiator of Summerjam and director of Contour Music Promotion.
Thorsten, member of Contour Music Promotion team
The popularity of the event makes the media company covering it popular. It is quite difficult for Contour Music Promotion to find a sponsoring partner that fits into the eventís philosophy. The event should not be sponsored by a company that conspicuously advocate alcohol consumption. A lot of young people attend the Summerjam each year and the Contour Music Promotion team feels responsible for their well being. These young people should not be brainwashed by manipulative alcohol advertisements on the eventís location. Marijuana is also forbidden on the premises, though there might be some cases of violation. This decision has been helpful in creating a very good image for the event. The local residents of the location area complain about the garbage produced during the festival but attest to the fact that the visitors are friendly and peaceful. We have visitors who have been attending the festival since the first event and some of the visiting teenagers are the results of loves found at the festival.
Alpha Blondy
Contour Music Promotion organizes diverse music festivals and concert tours. Festivals are organized between September and July while concerts and other shows are presented throughout the rest of the year. Thorsten is responsible for print media contacts, advertisement posters, bookings, sponsorship and information sourcing. According to him, it is necessary to maintain good contacts to print media companies focusing on music. The Hip Hop, Dance-Hall and Reggae magazine RIDDIM is for example a good source of information for Thorsten in connection with information about artists for the Summerjam. There is a regular exchange of information relating to music trends between the editorial team of RIDDIM and Contour Music Promotion. There are basic things one should know. For example, new record release generally takes place on Mondays. The job demands constant learning and being up-to-date with the latest news in the music sector. It is also necessary to know how to communicate with people from different cultures in the music business scene. At the end of the day, itís all about business and you have to know how to play your game to succeed. In all, Thorsten finds his job very interesting and he loves all the activities involved.  According to him, Summerjam has celebrated the 20th anniversary, the focus now is to create a strategy that would take it through to the 25th anniversary.
 Summerjam 2005 photos
Alpha Blondy>
Anthony B>
Amadou & Mariam>
Richie Spice>
Chuck fender>

Anthony Cruz>

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Gregory Isaacs, Frankie Paul, U-Roy >

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Reggae Party>
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