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Michael Jürgens: The most powerful man in the hit business?

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Michael Jürgens: The most powerful man in the hit business?

Michael Jürgens (right) together with Florian Silbereisen (left) and the former MDR entertainment director Udo Foth (center) at the Winter Festival of Folk Music 2006. picture alliance / Sascha Radke | Sascha Radke

Michael Jürgens, a German music manager and TV producer, is an influential figure in the German hit industry and manages, among others, Florian Silbereisen.

According to research by “ZDF Magazin Royale”, Jürgens has considerable influence on the guest list of the TV shows hosted by Silbereisen, which can be crucial for the artists’ careers.

Jürgens’ name was also mentioned in the context of a trial against former MDR entertainment director Udo Foht. There he said that he and Silbereisen Foht had borrowed money after a production company had financial difficulties.

Florian Silbereisen is the face of the German hit. As an exclusive investigation by Business Insider recently revealed, the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) planned the hit evenings with the presenter on ARD and in the public broadcaster’s third program over the past four years with a budget of more than 45 million euros. Behind Silbereisen’s success is his manager, who is considered the most powerful person in the German hit industry: Michael Jürgens. But who is the man who avoids the limelight and seems to be pulling the strings behind the scenes of a multi-million dollar industry?

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Who is Michael Jürgens?

Jürgens is a German music manager, TV producer, television author and entrepreneur in the German hit industry. He was born in Mülheim an der Ruhr in 1967. He has been involved in the production of German hit shows since the early 2000s. Jürgens is the managing director of several companies. These include Jürgens TV GmbH, Jürgens Management GmbH, Jürgens & Partner Medienkonzepte GmbH and Unikat Music GmbH.

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According to the commercial register, Jürgens Management GmbH is responsible for “developing concepts and strategies for artists, advising and supporting artists and representing them to media, recording companies, producers, publishers, organizers and other users”. Unikat Music GmbH is responsible for the “development, production, marketing and evaluation of entertainment […]marketing of artists, production of sound recordings and other products related to musical entertainment”.

Waltraud Barbara Nießlein-Beierlein, better known as “Bizzi” Nießlein, is also a partner at Unikat Music. She is the adopted daughter of the media manager and music publisher Hans R. Beierlein, who died in 2022 and was once an influential figure in the German music scene. As a manager, he made Udo Jürgens and Heino, among others, stars. Beierlein also developed numerous television programs, such as the “Grand Prix of Folk Music”. His daughter is also no stranger to the hit industry: as managing director of Montana Musik, she continues to run her father’s company.

To this day, Jürgens is particularly successful with his work as Florian Silbereisen’s manager and producer. In addition to the presenter, according to media reports, many other artists in the hit industry are also under contract with the 56-year-old’s company. The TV shows that Jürgens produces include, Information from DWDL According to him, one of the most successful on German television.

ZDF research sparked controversy

In March 2022, presenter Jan Böhmermann and his team researched as part of the program “ZDF Magazine Royale“ about Jürgens and the business relationships in the German hit business. They highlighted how much power Jürgens has in the industry. Through his role as a producer and television author for the TV shows hosted by Silbereisen, he has a great influence on which guests are invited, according to “Magazine Royale”. Appearances in the evening programs are crucial for the artists’ careers due to the high ratings and wide reach.

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In addition, large record labels would usually not sign singers if the editorial team at the Silbereisen shows did not offer the possibility of appearances. In view of the alleged advertising freedom of public broadcasting, Böhmermann also criticized product placement – such as hit CDs – and advertising for tours during Silbereisen’s evening shows.

The manager himself did not want to comment on it. According to Böhmermann, no person asked – including all hit labels and many artists – wanted to comment on Jürgens and his business in front of the camera. Only the artist coach and former label boss of EMI Electrola, Soeren Janssen, spoke to them. Janssen said on the show: “Michael Jürgens is the biggest player in the hit industry on TV and that’s why nobody wants to mess with him.”

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How influential Jürgens seems to be can also be seen from an interview with Florian Silbereisen. He told “Bild” in June 2021 that he was surprised by his new role as a juror on the RTL music casting show “Deutschland sucht den Superstar”. The newspaper quoted Silbereisen: “Anyone who knows me knows that we have a strict division of work: My manager Michael Jürgens takes care of everything that happens backstage. I focus on what’s happening on stage.”

Trial of ex-MDR entertainment director Udo Foht

As numerous media previously reported, Jürgens also testified in the criminal trial against former MDR entertainment director Udo Foht. He was responsible for the public broadcaster’s entertainment program for 20 years and established major hit evening shows on MDR. After allegations against him became known, Foht was fired in 2011. The public prosecutor accused him of fraud, breach of trust, bribery and tax evasion, and the trial against him began in September 2022. After confessing, Foht was sentenced to probation in March 2023, which he appealed.

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During his time as a manager at MDR, Foht is said to have borrowed money several times to pre-finance TV shows. In some cases he was only able to pay this back very late or not at all. According to Jürgens’ statement, he and Silbereisen Foht had each lent 7,500 euros to a production company after financial difficulties “Editorial Network Germany” reported.

Pop singer Vanessa Mai criticized Jürgens

After the research by “ZDF Magazin Royal” became public, the German pop singer Vanessa Mai commented on Jürgens. On Instagram she responded to the question of why she no longer appeared in Florian Silbereisen’s shows and criticized the manager’s show planning with the words “a lot of things weren’t cool”.

Pop singer Vanessa Mai criticized Jürgens on Instagram. Instagram/@vanessa.mai

The singer also makes accusations against Jürgens in a TikTok video that shows an excerpt from her ARD documentary “May Time is Now”. The 31-year-old says she “won’t sit at the table with him” and that Jürgens is “through” for her. Jürgens did not comment publicly on May’s allegations.

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