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Interview with PEER JALOWIETZKI, manager for Schiller - March 10, 2008

"There will always be several dance tracks per year that will become hits."

picture Peer Jalowietzki is the manager of German dance (or, as more lately described, 'global pop') institution Schiller, whose recent album is currently No.1 in Germany.

He started as a legal consultant for the act, and went on to manage it and form a long-term friendship and professinal relationship with the artist.

He talks to HitQuarters about the state of dance music in the industry, about collaborating with artists like Xavier Naidoo (No.1 Germany), and about branching out to other parts of Europe.

How did you come about setting up Sleepingroom?

The production company Sleepingroom Musik GmbH started in 2000 after the release of the first Schiller album, ‘Zeitgeist’, when it became obvious that Schiller is not a one hit wonder.

How did you start in the music business?

I started at the end of the ‘80s as a songwriter/producer. At the same time I was at law school and started working as legal consultant for many producers, artists and publishers.

In 2000 I stated working with Schiller as legal consultant and started the dance label Clubland Records which had a major hit with ‘Hypnotic Tango’ by Master Blaster in 2003. In 2004 I started my international exploitation company Fahrenheit International, which worked as a kind of outsourced exploitation department for many independent and major labels.

Who do you manage?

Currently Schiller is the only act I manage as this is almost a 24/7 job.

Whats the difference for you between co-managing and managing?

Previously, Schiller was self-managed by the artist Christopher von Deylen and I was only doing his legal stuff. Due to the increasing success of Schiller it was not possible for Christopher to handle also the management beside his artistic work.

As we have already worked very close, we agreed that I build up a professional back office and take over the management. As Christopher usually has very concrete ideas regarding how Schiller should be marketed, it is now a kind of co-management situation but I am running the daily business, the correspondence with the record company, concert promoters etc.

The new Schiller album has many collaborations. How important are they? Will you win more sales from fans of other artists?

Schiller has always been very open for collaborations. The albums usually contain
50 % instrumental tracks and 50 % vocal tracks. As Christopher does not sing himself we had to search for suitable guest artists.

Commercially speaking, those collaborations are very important as radio and TV is focusing on vocal tracks. The guest vocalists add a new musical colour to the Schiller productions.

Who initiates the collaborations and remixes?

Most of the collaborations have been initiated by us. For the singer September, I contacted my old friend Michel Petre of Family Tree Music in Sweden who takes care of her worldwide activities. For Despina Vandi, we got in touch with her management and her producer Phoebus, who did an amazing job just like the other artists and producers who are part of the album.

Christopher has been hooked up with Xavier Naidoo by Norbert Masch, the MD of Warner Chappell Germany and Ana Torroja has been brought to us by Sony/ATV Spain.

How has illegal downloading been affecting you?

I guess the illegal downloading is mainly a problem for teenie pop acts or in the dance field. Schiller is not that much affected due to the age group of our audience.

How do you go about keeping up with the times in terms of Internet/Myspace etc.? How useful is the Internet for you?

The Internet is very usefull for us. Some of our collaborations have been done via Internet. Some artists have recorded their vocals in their own studios and just sent us
the audio files via the Internet.

What markets do you consider outside of Germany?

Basically we consider the complete world market but with the ‘Sehnsucht’ album (which will be called ‘Desire’ for the international releases) we will start in Europe. Schiller is already well-known in Eastern Europe and Greece. In the past we also had hits
in Italy and South Africa.

How do you manage holding on to Schiller for so long? Did you ever have to fight to keep the act?

We know each other for approx. 15 years and became friends throughout this time. I hope that our collaboration will last for at least the next 10 years.

What type of artists approach you?

I am looking for artists with potential for a long term career as an album artist. And nowadays it becomes more and more important that an artist is able to play live.

Schiller has a very non mainstream style, would you ever think about expanding the horizons in terms of style or will it always be techno/electro-based? .

The times when you could call Schiller a dance act are long gone. In the beginning, Schiller was obviously a club act with the hit singles ‘Das Glockenspiel’ and ‘Liebesschmerz’.

But it was as early as the first album, ‘Zeitgeist’, that Schiller made a move
towards becoming an electronic/ambient act. Since the ‘Tag und Nacht/Day and Night’ album, the media gave Schiller’s music the tag ‘Global pop’, which – I think – fits Schiller’s music perfectly.

Do you ever accept outside material?

Schiller is writing his own material, but most of the tracks with guest artists are co-written with them. Still, they are always based on a layout by Schiller.

How do you help an artist to realise their vision?

My main job is to convince the record label and our other partners to believe in the artist and his vision. But basically we develop a complete plan for how the album should be marketed and promoted.

In the case of ‘Sehnsucht’, we worked closely together with the Universal distribution team of Frank Hohenböken and Guido Schlender and developed the ideas for the high class packaging, the PPD-structure, retail marketing etc..

What are your future plans/goals?

Our plan is to establish Schiller as a unique artist on a high sales level and to keep the thing going on at least for the next 10 years.

What do you see in the future of the music industry?

It looks as if the record labels try to establish the so-called 360° business model, where labels take on all other aspects of working with their artists.

But although it is comprehensive to make this move, I think there is so much to improve in the record business itself before you should move to other parts of the business. At the end of the day the biggest problem will be to find qualified people for all those new jobs

What are the best and worst aspects of your job?

The best part of the job is to watch the things we have planned together become successful. The worst part is the endless discussion with the record label...

Is the rest of the year planned out? How much can you plan and how much room do you have to leave for the unexpected?

We are planning 2009 already. Most of 2008 is planned out. We are playing a live tour in Germany in May/June, followed by a very interesting collaboration with a classic artist and again some live dates during the summer.

We will release at least two more singles this year and try to break other European markets in the second half of 2008. The first half of 2009 is reserved for North America. And then the production for the next Schiller album is like a never-ending story.

Is techno making a comeback?

It depends on what you call techno. I think there will always be several dance tracks per year that will become hits but from the economical side the dance business is almost dead as you can’t live from the downloads and the compilation market has gone down so much that this cannot balance the dwindling album sales in dance music.

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Interview by Leila Rozario

Read On ...