Maifeld Derby

Festival organizer Timo Kumpf tells us about the future of the Derby

Readers of music magazine Intro ranked the Mannheim Maifeld Derby as the second best festival in Germany. We sat down with the organizer of the festival, Timo Kumpf, to talk about the future of the Derby, his concert agency Karakter Live and his own experiences as a founder in Mannheim. 


Timo, just recently in June, you organized the Maifeld Derby – how were things this year?

Everything was great! The bands had a good time, the visitors were happy and our helpers worked very well together. This year was an impressive confirmation of what makes the Derby so special. We make high demands on the quality of the music, production, infrastructure and the food. This makes for the unique „Mailfeld-Vibe“.

The festival is becoming more recognized nationally and internationally. This year there was an ARTE television crew on-site —  a confirmation of your festival organization? 

Indeed. We cooperated with ARTE Concert for the first time. They set up live streams of both main stages. People were able to watch several concerts live online, and the footage is now available in the media library. This is something very special for our little festival. Our reputation is quite respectable both nationally and internationally, though I see this as a real accolade. I put in a lot of work until I was approached by these people.

You founded your concert agency Karakter Live in 2010 in Berlin. What made you move business to Mannheim? 

I moved from Odenwald to Mannheim to study at the Popakademie. This was the beginning of things. We started up in Berlin and lived there after graduating from 2008 till 2012. Together with my fellow students Peter Putz and Maximilian Schenkel we struggled along as a start-up in Berlin. Our booking agency „Karakter Live“ is now seated in Mannheim, while our mother agency „Karakter Worldwide“ is still in Berlin and is managed by Peter und Maximilian. My colleagues take care of artist management, for which Berlin is the better location with all the music business in the city.

Which particular advantages or disadvantages does Mannheim offer compared to Berlin?

I have a workspace in the Berlin office that I use at least every two months, as I am regularly in Berlin for meetings. And since my return to Mannheim new opportunities have opened up, rather than that the change of location had any negative impact. I am in constant contact with the official contact points of the Mannheim start-up networks. For instance I recently took part in the Kreatech-Programm, which provides financial support. That helped a lot, and also our office in the incubator Musikpark in Jungbusch is great. The location is cool, but not optimal, as we could use more space, especially for storage. At the moment I am working on bringing everything together in one place, outside of the city center. The conversion areas surrounding the city are a fantastic opportunity for Mannheim and a big hope for our own future. It’s great to be able to work closely with the official agencies and to always find an open ear.

How do you see the future of the Maifeld Derby in Mannheim?

It’s a tricky spot for the festival. We are always interested in pushing the newest trends, and such trends sometimes aren’t quite here yet. If we put on a gangster rap gig here, we will sell out the tickets in no time. But if we book a certain Grammy Award winner, people might not now why the artist is relevant yet. As a whole the region offers a good infrastructure for concert promoters. There are several great locations, such as the Alte Feuerwache, the Capitol or the Halle02. I feel that Mannheim is like Germanys Manchester – a very honest city, with very welcoming people!

What are your wishes for the coming year?

I hope the team remains intact and we don’t face any other major changes. Never stop a running horse! Aside from that I hope for encouragement from the public and from the political side. The Lord High Mayor of Mannheim, Dr. Peter Kurz, visited us for several days this year. This has now become tradition and it’s not just all along the lines of „to see and to be seen“, but about experiencing the artists on stage. I really appreciate that. The Music Commission Mannheim was also part of this years festival and we work closely together. I had also invited the Culture Committee, but didn’t get much feedback from them. Maybe next year.

You grew up in a small village in the Odenwald and then moved to Berlin, founded your business and worked there. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Living in Berlin was an important and formative time for me, but I have always felt most connected to Mannheim, even though Darmstadt and Heidelberg are closer to where I grew up. And when my dream came true and I was offered a space at the Popakademie, I didn’t think twice. I wish to grow old here. This year I moved to Neckarstadt-Ost, a district of Mannheim – and i very much enjoy living here.

Interview: Paul Heesch

Photos: Daniel Lukac

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