Red Alert! What musicians can now do to network
An interview with Danny Hellrung of "Alarmstufe Rot” (German for Red Alert)
“We need to network better!” For years we have heard this from musicians, organisers, etc; networking is what it’s all about. From small musicians to the biggest names, musicians have been and will always be people who like to do things on their own. But this attitude is a waste of resources and prevents many creatives from progressing. Meanwhile there are fantastic networks such as “Raketerei”, “Music Pool Berlin” and the enormous nationwide network “Alarmstufe Rot”, which was founded during the pandemic, which have managed to open rooms, make contacts and give support. We sat down with media manager and member Danny Hellrung, from “Alarmstufe Rot Hamburg”, to talk about opportunities, improvement and problems in the music industry. We also discussed what experiences from the pandemic could enable better cooperation among musicians.
Danny, what is your role at “Alarmstufe Rot” and what are you doing to draw attention to the grievances faced by the world of culture?
Coronavirus has made it painfully clear that the music industry needs to connect better. Not only among ourselves, but also as an industry with politics. From the very beginning, “Alarmstufe Rot” has tried to provide educational work and be as uncomfortable as possible, especially when it comes to state politics in Germany. Beforehand we didn’t really know what politics was – we had to learn quickly. It is no longer enough to just make music or put on shows. You need to be street smart. Do your homework. Which budget pays for what? Pays you? State, Federal or municipal? We often expect things from the Federal government, but the State governments can do a lot immediately. It is complex.
Truth be told, politics knows nothing about our industry. So anyone can help or make a contribution to ensuring that soon and in the future things will be better. This is only possible by consensus, improved laws and financial assistance, on both the small and large scale. Every day more than 35,000 members of “Alarmstufe Rot” are working to make sure that our fate as musicians is not forgotten. That help that is requested actually arrives. We are fighting for the artists and the crews. The main focus: Emergency Grant, November Grant, December Grant. That was also our idea. We have accumulated a lot of money. It is sad, what has historically happened here. There are people, big both physically and professionally, who in meetings began to cry out of the blue.
What is your job and what do you do at “Alarmstufe Rot”?
“Alarmstufe Rot” is available in all States. For my part, I try to launch campaigns from Hamburg that make a huge splash. In the short term, three major campaigns are planned. On March 20 the Hamburg television tower will be the centre of attention. Light of the Nights will illuminate everything. We will put on a DJ set at 200 meters high to be symbolic. The light show, equipment and the manpower will all be for free.
The second campaign took place on April 10. Paderborn airport was lit up. Aeroplanes flew at 11,000 meters altitude at 800 kilometres per hour conducting quick tests. Artists were hired and the tested people used the inside of the aeroplane as a dance floor.
The third major campaign will take place sometime in May 2021 in the port of Hamburg. Again it will involve a light show as a homage to culture.
Danny, the music scene is completely broken. No gigs, festivals etc. – is coronavirus the worst thing that could happen to the music industry?
I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The feeling of taking matters into your own hands, feels good anyway. We at “Alarmstufe Rot” have won the “Heroes Award” for the second time in a row because we utilise and campaign with guerrilla marketing. For example, we went swimming in the river Spree and blew up a ton of explosives. Because we are convinced that the music industry is of systemic importance.
There used to be this resentment, now we have created an alliance. All pulling in the same direction. Making noise. Constructively sitting down together and negotiating. In addition, I would like to have my job back. Before the pandemic I was a media manager and would like to be one again when all this is over. But working in better conditions. Better laws that better protect musicians. The first thing has to be to end the monopoly of the major event organisers. Small businesses and private partnerships need to be promoted and support needs to be given. We are all in the same boat.
Where do you see the chances of things getting better?
Frankly, politics needs to learn what the “music industry” part of the economy really means and what it entails. It needs changes in the law, financial impetus and greater support for popular music – i.e. not only for classical music. It must be understood what an immense source of income festivals and concerts are. Everyone needs to work together. Mutually support each other. It’s about trying to reach a consensus and networking.
What does “Alarmstufe Rot” do for musicians and who can you contact if you have questions? It’s all on our home page. You can get specific info there and make press inquiries. You can also donate, which many do. You can subscribe to the newsletter, so you don’t miss out on more great campaigns. If you’re a musician who currently has no plan for the future, you can get in contact with one of our many employees. For example we are extending deadlines for money. We are also taking care of immediate aid. We look at what you’re entitled to and help you to apply for it. We also did this for the November and December Grants. Here you can find details of all the plans for Emergency Grants III. As an organisation, we are campaigning for you. If you’re a musician, it’s really worth looking through our site and becoming a member.
What does the future look like? Will a vaccination be a requirement for concerts?
We at “Alarmstufe Rot” are definitively fighting against creating a two-class society. We have ordered filter systems so that our venues are safe and we can put on concerts again. Entry must involve testing in some way. The best thing would be for a negative test, which can be conducted on site or brought with you, to then be valid for 48 hours. I mean, we plan and put on social and cultural events as well as business-related events which make up over 80% of all events in Germany. Our activities guarantee an economic, intellectual and cultural diversity which strengthens our economy and enriches our society. This diversity must be saved. In the end, politics has to agree. But they can only do that if they understand that it has to carry on. We can only repeatedly emphasise that we’re doing everything we can to ensure that they give the green light.
What do you advise young musicians?
First of all, that they do not give up, but stay active. Support companies like us, or other platforms such as “Crewnation”, on social media by sharing their content. And also make your fans and followers aware of your difficulties and those of the music industry. Hitting the streets is in vogue again. Making a connection, protesting – let’s not beat about the bush; our lifestyle and culture has been taken from us. It is time to take it back.
We would like to thank Danny Hellrung for the interview.