A German court has officially established that techno is a genre of music. Although that may seem pretty self-explanatory, the decision will have a significant impact on the country’s clubs, reducing their financial burdens if and when they begin to reopen in the wake of nationwide coronavirus lockdowns.
In particular, venues such as Berlin’s notorious KiKatClub will receive a tax cut on ticket fees due to the ruling, paying 7 per cent VAT on ticket sales (as opposed to the 19 per cent they previously had to pay), as is already the case for more traditional music venues.
The decision was made in Germany’s financial high court in Munich at the end of last month (October 29), and hinges on the fact that “the average visitor” is primarily there to experience the music, making club nights comparable to normal concerts. The DJs don’t just play other peoples’ tracks, the court stated, as reported by The Local: “they perform their own new pieces of music using instruments in the broader sense, to create new sound sequences that have their own character.”
While KitKatClub is among the many venues livestreaming from its website to raise funds during lockdown, Berghain has been transformed into a massive art venue. Since cancelling all of its live events, the club has hosted a surreal sound art installation and exhibited artists including Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Tacita Dean, alongside rising artists living in Berlin.
Unlike other clubs, Berghain already benefited from the lower tax rates, as German courts recognised the club as high art in and of itself back in 2016.