Every country and city has its own influences and demographics, resulting in a wide range of music scenes across the world. From techno to opera, jazz to grime, and everything in between, there’s always a way to find a connection to a country through the sounds of its cities.
People believe that the earliest genres of music began in Florence - with the opera - and moved to gospel music in the early 17th century. In 1899, the beginnings of jazz music were being heard, and by the ‘50s, rock ‘n roll had taken over in the US with the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and David Bowie leading the way. The ‘60s brought disco, the ‘70s championed rap and hip hop, and nowadays, people look to every genre for a little bit of inspiration.
Curious about the scene in Germany, the influences which shape the country, and intrigued to hear about the sounds which characterise the nation, LBB’s Nisna Mahtani reached out to 86Tales’ managing partner Gordian Gleiß, MassiveMusic Berlin’s creative director and head of production Joss Ifan Brightwell, Blut Audio’s post producer & composer Ludwig Barth and the team at Tracks & Fields – music researchers Weronika Tauroginska and Hector Picard, music scout Brad Palmer and PR & communications Guillermina Gomez Arevalo.
Managing partner at 86Tales
One of the most notable trends in German music is the rise of underground electronic music, which includes genres such as ambient, techno, and experimental sounds. We are seeing more artists and sound companies explore and experiment with these sounds, resulting in a vibrant and diverse music scene.
German sound companies today have a lot of resources to draw upon for inspiration, and one of the most notable sources is the vortex of social media, particularly on platforms like TikTok. With the rise of short-form video and the democratisation of content creation, TikTok has emerged as an important cultural touchstone, shaping music trends and setting the stage for emerging artists.
In addition, indie and craft-lover collections like Nowness have also played a key role in shaping the current sound landscape. From experimental music to cinematic soundscapes, these platforms have opened up new avenues for creative expression, and have helped spur the development of new and exciting sounds.
Equally exciting is the resurgence of vinyl as a listening format, which has been gaining momentum in recent years. Many people are rediscovering the joys of physical media and the warm, rich sound of vinyl, which has led to a renewed interest in turntables, vinyl records, and all the associated hardware and accessories.
Finally, the adoption of spatial audio is another red-hot trend in audio technology that has caught the attention of German sound companies. By creating a 360-degree sound stage around a listener, spatial audio offers complete audio immersion, changing the way we perceive conference calls and other audio experiences. With a growing number of developers working on new instruments and sounds, German sound companies have access to an expanding array of tools and technologies that can help them create exciting, innovative soundscapes that capture the zeitgeist of the moment.
There are many lesser-known German artists that showcase the current sound of the country. For example, Europa is a Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist whose work manipulates the borders between pop, ambient, club music, video work, and installation. Europa's work extracts the essence of genres both familiar and far-flung, kneading and recasting them into new and unexpected shapes.
Europa's second album on Transatlantic, ‘Wanted’, is the culmination of years of exploration, much of it composed in transit, on buses, trains, and planes — spaces insulated from time and framed by rushing landscapes. These tracks inhabit emotional nether zones, wedding euphoric synth melodies to introspective basslines and field recordings, embracing contrasts and subtle shades to elevate the sum of its parts. What emerges is a glittering work of club alchemy.
Looking ahead to 2023, we can expect even more exciting and innovative sounds from the German music scene. The country's history of experimentation and boundary-pushing, coupled with the diverse range of musical influences, creates an exciting and dynamic environment for artists and sound companies to create and explore.
Joss Ifan Brightwell
Creative director and head of production at MassiveMusic Berlin
The increased value of club culture in post-pandemic Germany continues to influence the mainstream German music scene. Borrowing elements from techno and trance music, in addition to more recent influences from afrobeats and reggaeton, German popular music has evolved similarly to scenes in other countries, whilst still maintaining a sense of German identity.
Contemporary German rap music is, of course, influenced by the proliferation of trap music from the USA, and now, UK drill music is making its way to Germany, primarily via social media. Pop music is also taking note of these trends by employing hard-hitting trap drums and heavy 808 bass sounds in its productions.
The sound of the underground club and techno scene in Germany has also developed over the past two years, with the pandemic playing one of the key roles in this change. What was a more serious and minimalistic sound on dance floors has become more positive and hard-hitting.
The major influences are coming from subgenres of electronic music – trance, happy hardcore, Italo disco and Miami bass – and have also inspired emerging German rap artists such as Ski Aggu, Makko, Viko63 and Pashanim.
Indie rock is also having a resurgence, with bands like Provinz, Blond and KYTES gaining more of a following over the last year.
In 2023, the influence of various forms of electronic music on both the mainstream and underground scenes will continue to grow. Jungle, drum and bass and gabba, particularly popular in the UK, will also become more prevalent in German clubs, with the worldwide popularity of afrobeat and reggaeton continuing to have an influence.
Want to get a taste of what the sounds of Germany sound like?
Last year, MassiveMusic Berlin created the soundtrack for the launch of O2 Germany’s ‘Can Do’ campaign, directed by the fantastic Salomon Ligthelm. Sampling vocals from ‘Sternenstaub’ by RIN & Schmyt in our original music, we composed an epic track for a film that successfully encapsulates and portrays a lot of the people and culture of modern Germany.
Post producer and composer at Blut Audio
As we enter 2023, Berlin has lifted many covid-19 restrictions, which means we can finally enjoy the social aspects of life again. Clubs, restaurants, bars, and events are all bustling with people once more.
Music is always an important aspect of our social lives, and as we emerge from our isolation, we're seeing some exciting new music trends emerging. In Germany, we're seeing a growing trend towards collaboration between old school and new school artists, like in the latest number one chart song ‘Komet’ with Apache 207 and Udo Lindenberg, and even Peter Fox starting a new chapter with ‘Zukunft Pink’. From old - form new! This trend is just starting to emerge, but it's exciting to see what kind of music will come from it.
We're also seeing a resurgence of nostalgia in music. With the ongoing war in Ukraine and other global issues, many of us are longing for ‘simpler’ times, and music from the ‘70s and ‘80s is making a comeback. The Weekend, Dua Lipa, and Miley Cyrus are just a few artists who are embracing this trend and bringing back the sound of the past.
Of course, Berlin is still the place to be for electronic music and club culture. Producers and DJs are always pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new sounds. Inclusivity and innovation are at the heart of the techno scene, and we're excited to see what new fusion of sounds will come out of it.
As we continue to navigate this post-pandemic world, many of us are turning to music streaming and podcasts to help us get through our day-to-day lives. We're also discovering new music through social media platforms like TikTok, which have become creative goldmines for young producers.
Personally, I'm excited about the neo-soul, hip hop and DnB scene that's been emerging in London and New York. I love the way these genres blend hip-hop, jazz, soul, and electronic music, creating a unique and melancholic sound that perfectly reflects the mood of the times.
Moving forward into 2023, we're seeing some exciting new music trends emerge. Whether you're into old-school collaborations, nostalgic throwbacks, or experimental electronic music, the music culture wants to renew itself but also is looking back at the same time.
Weronika Tauroginska, Hector Picard, Brad Palmer and Guillermina Gomez Arevalo
Music researchers, music scout, and PR and communications at Tracks & Fields
LBB> What are some of the trends you’re seeing?
Brad> Increases in the traditional use of music such as vinyl - rather than digital - is one of the current trends. Also, increasing is the number of people paying for music rather than downloading free music online. TikTok music content, web3 and AI are causing a change in the music industry, and could create licensing and copyright problems. To this end, there’s potentially a huge market for music creation within web3. And last but not least, the purchasing of entire catalogues of music has become a thing, as seen with David Bowie's entire catalogue of music being sold for more than $250 million.
Weronika> In terms of trends, hip-hop is still huge - obviously. But In the last year, we’ve heard a lot of dance music - (did someone say TikTok?) and older catalogue’s comebacks through remixes and mashups. ‘80s-style synths (like Harry Styles or The Weeknd), and funky, disco sounds are definitely hot too. Artists these days seem to be more open to experimenting and not being defined by genres, which I absolutely love. I think acts like Fred again, Kendrick Lamar, Loi, Deichkind, Miley Cyrus and Nina Chuba will continue making noise in Germany this year. I also hope to see more badass women making their way up.
LBB> What formats of listening are most common/coming back?
Hector> Streaming and going to concerts to discover new artists.
Weronika> Vinyls are coming back strong, with record sales each year (and looks like the number would be even higher if they were able to keep up with the demand!). But streaming seems to continue being the most popular format these days and I believe it will stay like this for a while - as DSPs still have a lot of room for improvements here and there. Despite figuring out a better payment system for the rights holders, I hope platforms will also up their audio quality game to make the experience even better.
Brad> Also agree that vinyl is back on the rise with plenty of Djs opting for this format. Also the rise of the Walkman and cassettes with companies remaking the classic player.
LBB> Where do you find your sound inspiration?
Weronika> Everywhere really. It depends on the project and the kind of sound I’m looking for, but I never know where the inspiration will eventually come from. Sometimes it’s a YouTube video a friend shared with me, a Spotify release, a bird, or even the sound of a washing machine in the background. I find it helpful to not limit myself to the first idea that comes into my mind, but rather keep an open mind when it comes to finding the right angle.
Brad> Clubbing, talking with friends and everyday life.
Hector> We obviously listen to new releases, watch ads, movies and TV shows, and try to keep in mind the essence of tracks that might lead to an emotional response from the audience.
LBB> Can you share a recent project which showcases what you believe is the current sound of your city/country?
Weronika> Surely there is more than one, but my favourite must be the recent Zalando spring-summer campaign - which is below!
Guillermina> It is tricky to be close to only one genre or style, as we can maybe agree that Berlin is not really Germany. It is some sort of Black sheep child with its own taste that is definitely Techno, and its spirit has historically been inclusive, diverse, and free. Unfortunately, the advertising industry is not using Techno very much, but here are our most exciting music syncs: the latest campaign for Zalando Spring '23 campaign 'For all your vibes' in which after an exhaustive music research process, we cleared the song 'Resolve' by BINKI.
eBay's ‘Second chance’
, is one of our favourite contributions from last year. It is an award-winning coming-of-age story produced by Anorak with McCann Germany, and is beautifully crafted by director Joanna Nordhal. For the music, we came across ‘Another Chance’ the worldwide hit released in 2001 by American house producer and DJ Roger Sanchez. This is a nice example of a German production embracing electronic music.
I also like Porsche's ‘75 years chasing dreams’
track - a concept by BBDO Germany that just came out a few days ago - which combines electronic music with indie vocals. We cleared the song ‘Otherside’ by Perfume Genius, which highlights the script's poetry and emotion. Just nailed it perfectly!
[Thumbnail photo by Mihail Macri on Unsplash]