BERLIN – MTV has completed its movin’ and is now groovin’ in Berlin. On May 18, the musicvid group opened its new headquarters on the east bank of the Spree River, along the last remnants of the Wall that used to divide the city.
The move from Munich is not only a fresh start in what has become the music capital of Germany, but also a strategic repositioning with an eye towards the new Eastern members of the European Union and beyond.
Headed by managing director Catherine Muehlemann, the new headquarters will house MTV Central, which oversees Europe’s German-speaking territories as well as emerging markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.
“It wasn’t easy to move hundreds of miles across Germany, but in the end there was just one conclusion — MTV Central should be based in Berlin,” says Brent Hansen, CEO of MTV Networks Europe.
“Our central operation has led a nomadic life over the years,” Hansen adds. “We’ve been in Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt. But it’s been impossible to ignore the incredible rejuvenation of Berlin over the last few years.
“It’s been re-established as the capital of united Germany, and it’s also regained its rightful place as the capital of German creativity, of energy and inspiration in so many fields. What we could not ignore any longer was the renewed importance of Berlin as the heart of the music industry in Germany.”
MTV’s new location — a 91-year-old building that used to house the harbor administration offices of Osthafen, the eastside’s old river harbor — is a stone’s throw from Universal Music’s new home, a stylishly renovated harbor warehouse built at the turn of the century.
Other major players who have either made the move to Berlin or opened local offices include Sony Music, BMG Berlin Musik, EMI and Jack White Prods. as well as all the major industry associations, including the Deutsche Phono-Akademie and the Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s German office, which had been based in Hamburg, Germany’s former music hub.
Popkomm, Europe’s largest music trade fair, will move to Berlin in September after 15 years in Cologne.
Berlin is also home to 150 small to midsize record labels and more than 250 music and dance clubs, not to mention its distinguished Philharmonic Orchestra and three opera houses.
For Bill Roedy, prexy of MTV Networks Intl., the move is significant for other reasons.
Roedy was in East Berlin on Nov. 9, 1989 — the day the communist government of East Germany ordered the opening of the Wall.
Five years later, Berlin hosted the very first MTV Europe Music Awards show, and the memory of George Michael performing “Freedom” in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which once stood in the no-man’s land between East and West Berlin, still conjures strong emotions in Roedy.
“That meant a lot to all of us and to our audience around the world,” he says.
Muehlemann hopes to bring the show back to the German capital in the next two years.