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For music artists, the marketing possibilities of digital media have opened up new opportunities independent from the major music industry. MICHAEL AHLERS has examined this process using the German Gangsta rapper Kollegah as example. As Ahlers describes in this video, his research team conducted an interdisciplinary two-part study in focusing on Kollegah’s skill set and knowledge in one part and in the other one on the reaction of the media to Kollegah. They established diverse strategies that make the rapper both successful and controversial in his genre but also in mainstream media. This study is the first proof of concept of the success of musical self-marketing. Conducted in 2017, the results of the study don't take into account the events in the aftermath of the 2018 German Music Award "Echo".


Michael Ahlers is Professor of Music Education and Popular Music at Leuphana University Lüneburg. Before this appointment, he was Professor of Music Education and Digital Media at the University of Augsburg. Among his current fields of study are empirical research on music education and popular music. He is a reviewer for a number of academic journals and institutions, including the Federal Court of Cologne on copyright issues and the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Since 2017 he has been a member of the scientific board of the German Society for Popular music Studies.


Leuphana University, Lüneburg

Sustainability research, cultural research, education, management and entrepreneurship: Through these four science initiatives, in course work and research, Leuphana University of Lüneburg addresses the challenges of civil society in the 21st century. The bodies responsible for these initiatives are the faculties newly established in 2010: Education , Culture , Business  and Sustainability . There are research topics spanning multiple faculties – in keeping with developments of current and future relevance – devoted to the Democracy, Digital Media and Health.   Companion to the substantive quality of the curriculum, Leuphana places particular reliance on students' responsibility, curiosity and initiative, on a broad-ranging change in perspective that questions presumably settled knowledge, and on dialogue not only among the various disciplines but between science and practice. The course of study follows a degree model unique to the German higher-education landscape, a model  that has already received multiple awards. With its launch of the Digital School in 2013, Leuphana also entered the age of the online universities, where it is setting new standards in social learning.   For its development as a humanistic, action-oriented  and sustainable  university, in 2007 Leuphana received an award from the business community's innovation agency for the German science system, the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, in its competition devoted to 'Excellence Strategies for Small and Medium-Sized Universities', and in 2010 from the Mercator Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation for the nationwide competition on 'The Future of Instruction'.   To strengthen Lüneburg as a location for research and business, scientists and the business community are working side by side on visionary projects under unique conditions, as part of the EU-sponsored regional development project for Innovation Incubators. A total of nearly EUR 100 million is flowing into regional economic development. In more than 50 projects, there are some 300 firms in the former Lüneburg district working with teams of researchers on behalf of a broad range of new research and infrastructure projects and measures in education and training. The Incubator places the emphasis on the topics of Digital Media, Health and Sustainable Energy. ( Source )  
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Original publication

“Kollegah the Boss”: A Case Study on Appropriation, Acoustic Capital, and Virtuosity in German Gangsta Rap

Ahlers Michael
Popular Music
Published in 2017

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