Digitization expands and alters the resources and strategies of cultural entrepreneurs to create distinctiveness. How do new digital formats affect cultural production, what forms of novelty do they enable, and what contents (dis)appear?

The impact of digital transformation on cultural entrepreneurs is ambiguous. On the one hand, digitization enables cultural entrepreneurs to surpass geographical boundaries, enabling wider market reach. Digital platforms for example, increase the aesthetic, formal, and semantic resources that cultural entrepreneurs can draw upon. Also, they increase opportunities for novel combinations. On the other hand, digital transformation imposes challenges to cultural entrepreneurs. They face increasing competition, higher uncertainty through the fast-paced market and technological changes, and dynamic changes in power relations caused by platform suggestions (e.g., Top 50 music in Spotify, Top 10 films in Netflix).

The projects of Working Area A aim to investigate this tension to understand how the forms, formats, and contents of the products of cultural entrepreneurs change against the backdrop of digital transformation. That is, Work Area A is concerned with the analyses of artifacts, namely of the film and music industries, and the reconstruction of locally situated production practices to answer the following questions:

How do cultural entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia use digital spaces, technologies, and media to develop new forms and formats, and how is this reflected in the contents of their products? How do they reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs? How do they achieve the ideal marketing balance of similarity and difference from competing products in local and international markets? How do digital media and especially platforms and their affordances shape the actions of cultural entrepreneurs? And how do they use digital resources in dealing with a crisis like the global Corona pandemic?


To find answers to these questions, the researchers involved in this Working Area use a wide variety of methods. Quantitative methods include digital pattern recognition of images and videos based on artificial intelligence and machine learning and recourse to existing databases to analyse films. Qualitative research is carried out through ethnographical approaches – both on online platforms and in the offline field – as well as through interviews and qualitative content analysis, in order to analyse the innovation processes of different cultural products.