Music Business is not Music Part 2 : Mannheim Culture

Here is another example how music business works sometimes, now at a local venue. This is a long one, and maybe boring here or there.

Chapter One:

After my first failed attempt (this will be Part 3 or so), in February 2016 I went to a concert at “zeitraumexit” in Mannheim (a venue which mainly provides dancing, theatre and similar performances, not primarily music), to check this venue and also like to know what they consider “experimental music” today, after I sent an inquiry mail which was not answered.

The venue is at a backyard of a former factory and looks overall very clean and kind of expensive inside (not what I would prefer in the first place). I was welcomed very friendly by the head of registered association “kxxxxfxxxx eV” and other people which stood in front of the building and were talking to each other. Actually I’m biased if unknown persons talk to me in a very friendly, engaging way,  sooner or later it turns out that they want something -not money in the first place, but something like reckoning their cult and give unrestricted approval. Hm, I never do that. And I guess they checked this out fastly. The concert began, there were about 40 people (mostly older ones, let’s say in the 40-60ies, but also some younger ones), the concert room looks a bit like a small cinema with three or four seating rows staircase-like getting higher to the frontwall, and the main space is taken by what I would call the stage, there is no dancefloor or similar.

Ottosonic Motör played three pieces (or were it two? I don’t know, the tracks lasted 10 or 20 minutes and weren’t very distinctionable from each other). Here is a youtube-excerpt from the concert:

I don’t know why the excerpt doesn’t start at the beginning of a music piece, but you can guess how it started when you look at the end. And all tracks almost sounded the same. What was fun for the first two minutes, quickly faded into a stressed out feeling – because they even not tried to get interesting structures or atmospheres, main thing seemed to be looking somehow important and being arty. Here is a link at local press where someone tries to describe the sound (I’ve had have a good laugh) :

I hung on until the end (40 minutes or so) and then went to drink one, two or more beer. I tried to talk about what exactly is interesting or experimental in this music, but nobody really wanted to talk about music – they just said how good it was, and then .. end, nothing more. I thought about seeing an ear specialist, but then skipped this part, so I went on to my next issue, getting my stuff there in concert. Finally I talked with the head (as mentioned before), but he didn’t show interest in me or my music anymore, and talked around other stuff (their next art projects or something), and then suggested to send a mail to his “deputy”. Ok, I talked around a bit with the bar keeper, and then attended the rest of the second band (forgot the name), but they also were about fumbling around at knobs of analog equipment, using lots of effects, and were kind of boring (what some people in the audience receipted with “facepalm”-gestures). Additionally meanwhile the air inside has gone very bad and the place smelt like a boys’ locker room. After that I left this place and went home.

Chapter Two:

As suggested I set up an email with links and information, etc. No problem. I decided to go with my newest project at that time (Hardfrost) and wrote this about it (cleared from some polite phrases):

The project (Hardfrost) is not exceedingly experimental, and has in mind even build atmosphere of cold, cool psychedelics in tech house, with effects and sudden coming in short radio broadcasts speeches.[..]
What I need? A desk for my notebook and monitor, power supply, yes and the built in p.a.

The answer was short (there were no polite phrases to be cleared):

We never do dance or club events. Maybe ask [.. somebody else ..]

As I never considered “Hardfrost” as a simple club or dance act, it just uses tech beats to keep the structure going, I asked again what he meant:

I don't understand the first part of your answer. What supposed dance/club event do you mean?

And then his arrogance broke through clearly:

once again
we don't play inside of the electrosmog event no electronic club/techno/deep or similar motivation and dance music. really ALL other event organiser in the area electronic music do that in Mannheim.
we don't. sorry for it.. and yes: I have had a listen to it

So, I was really angered by this arrogant speech by someone who doesn’t have so much clue about music, and thinks of himself and his fellas, as they are ahead of other people and have the total perspective. I was also irritated by the term “motivation music” – there is no such term in public. The most correlation is next to music as used for aerobics etc. I knew he justed wanted insult me, and sorry, I am the last one who wants to be treated like that anymore, just because they have rulership over the event venue.
So I set up a long mail where I point out different reasoning and arguments (I left some parts out because they are irrelevant):

ok, this sounds different. I could also do "4'33" by John Cage, but that would be kind of predictable.
What do you want to say with "motivational music"? Sounds like "Not qualified". If you don't like that, it's one thing, if it doesn't fit formal criteria, I would like to know what criteria are this; there is no explicite description on your website, or can not be found.
I would like to quote from your website:
[left out here, it said something about they are no concert promoter, they just want to promote experimental music and sound art, and a lot of beating around the bush, for which at last they could get money from Mannheim's cultural department. The last sentence was:]
"It's not about the money, it's about the art!!"

I never demanded money or similar, and that's not my point. I don't insist on promotion that has to do with money. That's not cultural promotion, that's commercialization.
[I also went for the single points from the above mentioned web site; left out, because both makes no real sense]
I have to ask myself: Did I get this really right? Does this do the matter with music? Or something completely different only understandable if you know the codes? And what codes could that be?
[also left out, because I referred to the concert from Chapter One and tried to give an explanation what this music means, and what seems to be wrong about it]
What do you want to say with "once again"? That you consider myself as a stupid "techno idiot", for whom every single written line is a waste of time? If so, then tell me why.
So you listened to it? But did you capture that? I don't feel this. Und 20 seconds is enough to make a final judgement? And "motivation music" is an impertinence. This is no thing that was made with MusicMaker, there were years of preparation.
[..] I have the impression that I have to deal with mentally lazy humans who made themselves comfortable in their corner.[..] Expertise is surely a wonderful thing, but if it leads to snootiness it's time to ignore them.
You might think there is someone who has too much time on his hands: Right[..]. Anyway I think you won't read this mail nor you want to take up any discussion. So what?

Surely I should have ignored them in the first place, but it’s real fun to write such mails. I didn’t expect answers any more, but…

look for another one.
besides it's a dubious honor to play at us.
if there are more mails with similar content they will be declared as spam.

The last mail by me:

I didn't expect any other answer. Dialogue not possible.

So much for “dialogue of the arts”.

Chapter Three:

What I wanted to prove is, that there are lot of people behaving vain and arrogant. People who don’t want to be questioned in their roles or benefices which they got if they are “in the network” – even if they  say they are humanitarian or working in charitable organisations. And that “not-for-profit”-thing is one where I investigated more. As those things must be made public by the Mannheim city administration, I found out that “zeitraumexit” gets about 100k € for cultural things per year (might change from year to year); what I couldn’t find out how much was left for “kxxxxfxxxx eV”. Maybe nothing (they talk this way), but they profit indirect by using their equipment and venue. Think a little wider: The city gets money by taking taxes, and who’s paying taxes? Me too, and that’s what you get for!

Anyway what I also found at youtube:

So there are no dance/club events there? Please adjust your reality button. I guess they will say “Oh this is not about music, it’s a dance performance!”. Thank you for dried fruit.

You thought this was the end? No, let’s go to the next chapter….

Chapter Four:

A few weeks later I went again to this location because a discussion about art was announced there. There were a couple of interesting things on the table, but at the end the discussion ended in nowhere-land… But on this opportunity I talked again to the head and told him about the unsatisfying email conversation. In fact, he didn’t seem to be interesting in what was in the mail and started a long run of apologetics why it can’t happen here. I forgot the discrete details, but mostly turned out in “too much work”, “obligation to the audience”, “drum machines not allowed” (what!? fuck that!!) etc.

Another few weeks later another non-profit association made an exhibition at this place, called “B-Seite” (or a part of a event chain over one week in March 2016). Actually it was not that bad or boring that I expected: They had some computer sound / picture installations there. And then again I talked to the head of this association by coincidence. I told him about my unsatisfying adventure, and he said I should do another attempt, direct at zeitraumexit. So I did: I just resent my e-mail for the third time with the addition whether these mails are read or not. And the answer was sent within a few hours:

your mail has arrived. we answer the messages, inquiries that reach us. Indeed we ask for some patience.

Really? Why I didn’t I get such a message not for the first two times?
Anyway, the “real” answer came in within two hours (!!):

I have listened to your youtube recording and transferred your mail to [.. (the head of kxxxxfxxxx)]. We work closely together referring to musical contribution in zeitraumexit. Therefore it's his decision whether the work fits the direction [..] or not.

Ok, now I knew why it’s called zeitraumexit: once in, you’ll never get out of the loop; so here we go again… he answered:

we had worked on this topic enough, and had clarified it in detail. So I assume, this topic is completed.

This is how it goes. I didn’t think this topic was enclosed now because I never got satisfying answers to my questions. I don’t know – were they just trying to to test me? So I tried again:

this inquiry is now six weeks old, and I didn't know nothing about the internal management structures.
I consider it kind of strange that nobody listens to this music but can take a priori statements that this stuff is unqualified. I thought that a association assigned to "experimental music" would be more cosmopolitan.   

Then the fun started, and he got kind of personal…

really everybody here clicked the link and listened. It's not about degradation your music. I have tried to explain to you where the problems about creation of location and audience structure are. There is no question that experimental music is a wide field. We can't cover the complete scope in the moment, and I would like that you accept this instead of labelling us as assholes who don't listen to nothing and don't bother about left or right. We have besides our personal preferences of experimental music obligations to the house and the audience. This means that we partly don't play our own music either because it doesn't fit. Arbitrariness doesn't work out, and it's openmindedness too that you learn to accept what others do and why they do it this way.

Wow, this was a great text. Anyway it’s mostly nonsense, and it’s the same speech whenever somebody wants to hold somebody else down: First tell some vague requirements by an anonymous authority (here: the audience and unknown “obligations”), and if it doesn’t work, just throw in some lack of knowledge and personality of your opponent. I know all these tricks.. and I went another way in the discussion – and it’s getting quite longer every time:

I don't care about degradation, no matter from what side. And if nobody can deal with my music it doesn't matter to me. I don't feel any obligation towards an audience because I want to keep my freedom to do what I want to do. I also don't want to do a performance at zre, it's done for me.
It's obvious that you can't deal with all or a lot of musical experiments over the year with a handful events, but nobody asked for that.
What I can't do is to cover up the claiming of this in the articles of association on the one hand, on the other talk about "creation of location and audience structure" - that's the point where the term "experimental" fluctuates: "experiment" means also that the audience might not get what they expected or are angered by this. I know by myself that the whole thing costs time and work plus energy, rent etc. But if someone doesn't do this for himself by intrinsic impulse, then I think it's mostly a commercial affair where there is no place for things that moves outside the once developed range.
But then, the communication should also go this way, and the whole thing isn't "experimental" any more.
The "openmindedness"-point makes no sense as it applies to you too. If I don't accept something and verbalize it it's up to you to accept and/or to learn why I do it. But after a few rounds we are deadlocked in communication. This argument is just "sink or swim" - and nobody uses it if the discussion is on same eye height.
P.S.: It could have been completely different, if somebody had said "It's your thing, do what you want to do. But it can't be part of our series. We provide location, PA etc and tell you what to do to get the project done. At the end we'll do a payoff, and you'll have to pay the deficit from your own wallet." But I couldn't see any trace of an attitude of cooperation.

This was not the end.. we are far from it now:

sorry, you don't understand us and the whole situation at all. It is what it is. We underlie practical constraints and realities and can't cope with everybody. Please try to build up something similar and you'll understand what I'm talking about. This begins with the articles of association -where you are referring to with affectation-, which certain wording in long lasting discussions to get the association accepted by fiscal authorities. These are empty shells, there are a lot of differences between reality and requirements. And they are everywhere at the political communal authorities, culture boards and culture department. It's very complicated, therefore I don't have time to clarify this in detail but I think our position is clear. We understand you, but can't do anything regarding your concern. Do it like we do - there is a lack, go and remove it by doing it by yourself [..]

Do you now understand what exactly the problem is? I don’t. It’s a lot of beating around a lot of topics, and if it’s like he said, why is it possible to do any kind of cultural event in the non-profit area? That would remain his secret forever… but it sounds to me like a lot of flimsy excuses.  Eloquent people talk this way if they want or don’t want something. Anyway I didn’t give up to keep the discussion going:

however, I understand this better than you think. "Non-profit associations" nowadays in Germany are not "non-profit" - this is just for the fiscal authorities. The word has lost its meaning, and you wrote it by yourself. And I decline such associations. You can't be serious by saying "open up your own association or club". 
Anyway, it doesn't matter to me anymore. I draw the consequences and avoid such cultural non-profit associations, cause I know now what to think about it. The thing is that I always fall for the "good intentions", but one day if preconceptions get confirmed every time, they will be fact.

His short answer was:

You like to twist the facts, don't you?
maybe they were twisted before. I experienced this game now for the third time, and every time it was a "non profit association"

The next day I thought he shouldn’t get away so easily. So I made a new mail:

[..actually I gave a résumé what had happened and where I saw the mismatch regarding their claim; so there is new argument or reason in it. But this part was in it, too:] There is no critical debate about anything, everybody just gives everybody a pat on the back to feel comfortable in their "safe-space" or "tribe" what goes together with a "nose in the air"-attitude which I find detestable.[..]

I didn’t expect any answer.. and there was none.

Chapter Five:

At the same time I decided to talk to someone working at the culture department at Mannheim, but it was very unsatisfying:

for a few weeks now I'm dealing with musical culture in Mannheim, in particular infrastructure regarding "underground" music.
As my insights show there are locations linked to non-profit associations which provide these locations. In their statutes something like this is readable: "[..] the purpose is promotion of experimental, electronic music of the complete scope of creation etc[..]".
If such a passage is in the statutes what exactly do I have to expect? Not as part of the audience, but as producer of experimental music? Is it admissable to decline experimental music with pretended restrictions which are not declared in these statutes or associated website?

I got an answer three weeks later (not from the addressed recipient but..)

[..] please call me to speak about your questions. I'm not sure that I understood all correctly[..]

Hm, really? My question was so complicated? I never thought about that, so I tried again.

my question is to which extent non-proft associations (cultural) -provided with tax money or tax privileges- are obligated to the public (means: there are always only partial interests possible)? And what obligations are this exactly?
In find it irritating that such an association -though pretending [..complete scope..]- has notions about restrictions about experimental music but don't tell how they look like.

And here is the answer:

[..] if you have special issues regarding the functions and events of these associations, please ask there. It's not possible to do a general statement, it can be very different from case to case.[..] If you like a declaration, it's up to the statutes of the respective association.

..oops, I’m in the loop again…there is no way out. Ok, let’s go the hard way now in the last chapter…

Chapter Six:

I learned from the above that the “Chapter Four”-Man had told lies about his restrictions, nothing about is true, and that’s why he pussyfooted around. He just didn’t like my nose, that’s all.

So I decided to do a bluff a while for my amusement – I didn’t have the nerve to fool around with such people regarding my projects or something…

I have thought a while about this, and I would like the arguments -which were "worked on detail enough"- in written form (=email) subsequently.
P.S. if there are none by the next two weeks I will go to the tax office and ask how "non profit" works within your non-profit association.

Haha, this was a hard push. I never thought about it seriously, but just telling this had an effect…

spare this way. Non-profit associations underlie yearly examinations [..] which we satisfy more than enough. Be also aware of the difference of "unselfishness" and "benefit to the public". No association of the latter is unselfish because it has benefit to its members[..]  We are wondering why you want to discredit us and our work. Either I do a summary of what you couldn't memorize, or you will do a little defamation? That looks like blackmail. For the case if you like more discredit or defamation: please confirm your address so that we know where to send documents from our lawyer or the court in case of action for slander [..]

Ok, here we go. He answers with a businesslike bluff against, but I knew that he had nothing real in his hands so far – and I made this clear that I knew there is nothing…

I can't identify the notion on my side to do "defamation". I just said that I might "ask". If all is correct nobody has a disadvantage of it.[..]
Is there anybody who benefits from this association who is not member and is not in the audience? And also is not in associations in other cities who alternately benefits from it?
If there is one thing I would like to discredit, it's this odd autocratic self-image.
So please send me your summary, I begged for this several times.
If you threaten me with action for slander, please tell me what exactly is these slander? We have had just a couple of mails, and this will never go as a defamation.[..]

And that’s the point where he finally lost his serenity and replied in typical manner if there is not so much left:

sweetheart, nobody threatens. you are blackmailing. that's the fact.
do what you think is wise. who wants to piss on us because of aggrieved vanity, have to live with the fact that we can piss further. our dick extender and force enhancer has the name lawyer. that's normal.[..] and we don't have the inexhaustible time contingent that allows you to shit out bull shit all day. we have to concentrate on other things and let others get busy with imposed shit on ourselves.
now run to mummy, she'll take heart.

This is the style such grown ups communicate if they have no arguments. But I had to have the last word -ever-:

I don't do blackmail, and what I do or don't do, is my thing. by the way, the style of your mail lies extremely under the level grown ups should communicate. [..] and I guess this mail would not be explained to your favour. What you show here is something of autocratic behaviour. "if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

What do you think about this quotation? Nice, or not? Anyway, maybe I am a really annoying person sometimes, but that is my destiny. And some people deserve that somebody annoys them..


Two months later,  on the first of July 2016, the association dissolved…