“WE WERE MEDIOCRE,” confesses Klaus-Peter Schulenberg about Free, the rock band he played guitar for in his youth. He was, though, excellent at landing attractive gigs. So much so that other bands asked him to help them do the same. It became his job in 1971, before he was old enough to sign a contract to manage Bernd Clüver, who went on to become a chart-topping pop star (Mr Schulenberg’s father did so on his behalf). Today he is the billionaire boss of CTS Eventim, Europe’s biggest organiser of live entertainment.
Mr Schulenberg developed Computer Ticket Service, a struggling ticket-seller he bought in 1996, into one of the world’s biggest events groups. It has had ups and downs, but social-distancing measures imposed by governments to contain the covid-19 pandemic are by far the biggest challenge in the 69-year-old’s career. Live shows stopped cold in March across most of Europe. Sales of tickets—his firm shifts 250m in a normal year—collapsed by 90%. Only a vaccine against covid-19 would enable the return of perennial crowd-pleasers like the Rolling Stones, who rocked an audience of 85,000 in Hamburg in 2017.
The slump comes after a year of record earnings for CTS Eventim, which enjoys a near-monopoly in Germany and controls big chunks of the market in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The global live-music boom...
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