Denkfabrik was developed as a day-long lecture series on music, culture, and the economy, aiming to address the antagonism between creative activity and production and the commercial sphere, particularly in light of the ferocity of ongoing German debates surrounding copyright law, GEMA tariff reforms, and the wealth of creative minds and artists in Berlin.

Wherever culture is forced to emphasize its economic contribution in order to secure its position in the political area, and wherever business can avail itself of the idea of publicly protected culture for the sake of privileges and subsidies, comprehensive commodification of culture, and not a culturalization of commerce, can easily occur. To avoid these kinds of unbalanced, co-opted scenarios and succeed in creating a truly productive synergy between the two fields, the Denkfabrik series challenged participants to begin looking for ways to negotiate positive gains between culture and commerce, artist subsidies and promotion of the cultural sector, and to translate these into a non-exploitative and mutually beneficial policy.

Organized by CTM Festival as part of the second ICAS Suite Berlin edition (2012) in collaboration with the ICAS – International Cities for Advanced Sound network, the event made a critical contribution to the Berlin Music Week’s Word On Sound conference programme.


The City as Cultural Phenomena

The role of arts and culture is a key aspect of urban development. However, this is often translated into either standard events, formats and. Perceiving the city as a cultural phenomena and integrating the notion of physical, structural, mental, emotional landscapes is necessary if we are to succeed in the notion of "cultural planning". Trevor Davies will explore this concept with examples of processes and programmes.

Travor Davies (UK/DK) is an art director, curator, and project manager for Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017.

Is There Room for Experimental Culture in Urban Development? (Two Case Studies from The Öresund Region)

Copenhagen and Malmö are two cities connected through a bridge since ten years. It is a region where culture and creative industries are recognised as crucial for a urban and regional development. But the processes and methods are very different between the two cities, so are the local cultural life and activities.

Two festivals, Distortion and Øresund Festival, will be examples of bottom up and bottom down processes in local culture and urban development

Mathias Holmberg (SE) is the director of the Full Pull festival Malmö, a sociologist, and manager for Culture and Urban Development in the City of Jönköping.

Capitalism, Creativity and the Crisis in the Music Industry.

Is music still a commodity in the digital age? If not, who is really benefitting from the change, and who or what is suffering? Everyone involved in music culture knows that musical creativity is collective, collaborative and dispersed by its very nature, and that a market in copyrighted recordings was always an imperfect means by which to recognise and reward that creativity fairly. But is a system which makes it impossible for musicians to make a living - except as servants of the global marketing industry, manufacturing moods to order - or for record labels to turn a profit, while Apple becomes the most heavily capitalised institution on the planet, any better?

Jeremy Gilbert (UK) is a design thinker, researcher and multimedia journalist, who also lectures at the University of London.

What Became of the Utopia of the Early Electronic Club Culture?

According to Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello we are currently in a phase in which the ‘third spirit’ of capitalism is being manifested. Boltanski and Chiapello understand the sprit of capitalism as being the ideology which justifies supporting capitalism. Capitalism is amoral, with the accumulation of capital serving as an end in itself. Whenever capitalism is asked to justify itself, it falls back on already established belief systems, preferably that of its critics. The central characteristic of the third spirit of capitalism is the incorporation of artistic critique, as expressed by the revolution of 1968 which vociferously called for more authenticity in the work process and focussed on undermining social critique. Against this theoretical background, in her research project Susanna Niedermayr explores the question of what has become of the utopia of the early electronic club culture.

Susanna Niedermayr (AT) is an journalist, cultural theorist, and co-curator of ORF musikprotokoll im steirischen herbst, Graz.

"The Best Things In Life Are Free" – Pop, Art, Music, And Public Funding  

Most of the time, structural changes insides the industry get analyzed and mourned with regard to the economical side of the process. But what happens to what it¹s all about, the medium and its aesthetic shape, when artists cannot expect to make a living under the conditions of the market? How do the sound of music and its sociality affect each other, when - through the internet and social networks - it becomes increasingly ubiquitous, and at the same time, gets shared among highly specialized interest groups? Is this the point, where pop music, as a form of expression and as a social sculpture, which used to connect (and has been relevant to) people from different economical and cultural backgrounds, comes to an end? Are independent and electronic music more and more turning into art, because that makes it easier to take benefit from any kind of funding? What is and what could be the role of the public sector within these economical and cultural shifts?

Christoph Gurk (DE) is a curator, author, and dramaturge, who is responsible for music, theroy and art events at HAU, Berlin and the Centraltheater Leipzig.

Community, Sharing, and Self-financing; the Exceptional Economy of Contemporary Music Production.

The recent attempt to regulate the distribution of music and the commitment to the “protection” of property and authorship, not only neglects the techno-social specificities of the rights that it professes to protect, but it also endangers the synergies that support artistic production, by imposing very strict and unsophisticated methods that do not take into account the specific characteristics and the variability of the field. A more appropriate strategy should take notice of the distinguishing characteristic and interests of all the stake holders in the industry, including the public, and should be ready to rethink and revaluate the rights stemming from property and authorship.

Georgios Papadopoulus (GR) is a philosopher and researcher with a Master from the London School of Economics. He is currently on a research residency at the Vilém Flusser Archive at the School of Fine Arts in Berlin.

Ruling Class Studies

In Ruling Class Studies Marcell Mars will analyse business strategies, visions, corporate missions of Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay (GFAeB). He will consider the way these firms design technical infrastructure, create rules governing users' access to data and services, and appropriate counter-cultural values and identities. He will make a comparative analysis with older firms (e.g. Sears, Roebuck and Co, Chicago Edison, AT&T) who have used networks as both an infrastructure and a utility identifying the changes in business strategy fostered by the network form prior to digitalization, and distinguishing what is new in the behaviour of GFAeB. His aim is to explore how companies from the past invested profits in search of fields into which to expand. Acknowledgement: The lecture is co-presented by Grand Prix d'Amour Productions (Berlin) and Dis-patch Collective (Belgrade) pointing to their upcoming event SOUNDS LIKE MUSIC in mid 2013. 

Marcel Mars (HR) is an internet activist and researcher, who currently works at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht.


Tobi Müller (CH) is a journalist and presenter, his main subjects being music and drama. He works for Deutschlandradio Kultur, Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag, Spex and many more.