Expat in Focus: David Lieberberg brought Guns N’Roses and everyone else to Bulgaria

Written by on May 17, 2017 in People - Comments Off on Expat in Focus: David Lieberberg brought Guns N’Roses and everyone else to Bulgaria

Note: This interview was previously published on F&F Magazine, which is now part of The Sofia Globe.

David Lieberberg is the Artistic Director of Karma Events (formerly BEC, the Balkan Entertainment Company). Founded in 2006, this promotion agency has brought countless big artists to Bulgaria, among them Jon Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Rammstein, AC/DC, Metallica, Nightwish, Guns’N’Roses, Deep Purple, Placido Domingo, Robbie Williams, the late Joe Cocker and many others. With his Bulgarian business partner, Lieberberg just organised two gigs with Gianna Nannini in Sofia and Bucharest. Imanuel Marcus spoke to David Lieberberg, who explained why Bulgaria is a difficult concert market, what he likes and dislikes down here. Lieberberg is originally from Frankfurt.

The Sofia Globe (TSG): With BEC, you have had more audiences at gigs than any other promoter in Bulgaria, even though you started only in 2006. How did you manage to do so?

David Lieberberg: Actually, because we presented the biggest names and still tried to stay as reasonable as possible with our tickets prices, although most artist fees, especially for the big names, were absolutely horrendous.

TSG: Which of the many gigs you promoted down here impressed you most, personally?

David Lieberberg: Well, surprisingly it might have been Limp Bizkit although it was a financial loss, but the band was an absolute smash.

TSG: Just years before her death, you even had Soul diva Natalie Cole at the NDK. What was it like working with her? What is she like?

David Lieberberg: She was a very sympathetic and friendly lady and a totally professional artist.

TSG: At some point, BEC ran into difficulties. Of course you weren’t the only promotion agency in that situation. What happened? Why is it so difficult to organize gigs in Bulgaria?

David Lieberberg: The problem is that the concert market in BG is very difficult to predict, one can never really tell how many people will come to see a show, while, in comparison, Germany is a very predictable market. Also, people in western Europe are used to their artists returning every two or three years with a new album and show. They will always try to see their idols, again and again. In Bulgaria, people say: ‘Well, I have seen this act already and I will save my money for some artist I haven’t seen yet.’ Naturally, this rather strange behaviour also has another good reason, as the money is very tight in Bulgaria. I have not noticed any progress regarding the Bulgarian economy, let alone a raise of salaries.

TSG: What about the venue situation in Sofia? Does it make a difference to finally have a hall the size of Arena Armeets?

David Lieberberg: A venue like the Armeets Arena with this capacity and technical possibilities was urgently needed for a long time and, as far as I can tell, it is the most requested venue by fans and promoters in Sofia, nowadays.

TSG: You have lived in Bulgaria for several years, before relocating your family back to Frankfurt. Which aspects of Bulgaria do you like to remember and which would you rather forget?

David Lieberberg: I have lived in Sofia for nearly 10 years and I loved the warmth of the Bulgarians, their love for music of any genre, their knowledge about their stars and their lust to party. Nothing really pissed me off except the dishonesty of the politicians and the non-existing service attitude. Also, employees should not be on their smartphones while you are waiting to get the attention a customer deserves.

TSG: What about preferences of the Bulgarian audiences? Why are ever older Bulgarians into Heavy Metal? What about AOR, Soul and Jazz?

David Lieberberg: Bulgaria is known as a Rock country, while for example their neighbour Romania is a Pop country. The majority in Bulgaria still prefers Rock of all kinds, but the requests for good R&B are increasing, while Jazz unfortunately became a genre for minorities.

TSG: You speak English, German, Hebrew and probably some other languages. But what about Bulgarian? Govorish-li Bulgarski?

David Lieberberg: Rasbiram…a lot, Govorish…not so much, mainly because I sound quite funny in Bulgarian and make people laugh with it, which does not really encourage me to speak the “Lingo”.

TSG: Thanks so much, David.

Photo: David Lieberberg with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) and with the late Natalie Cole in Sofia. Photos by David Lieberberg.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com