This paper demonstrates that cultural diplomacy was, in fact, flanked by large-scale cultural commerce between the music industries of communist countries and record companies in the capitalist sphere. It illuminates how the state-owned music monopolist of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) cooperated with American, British, and West German enterprises to domestically produce and distribute popular releases by Western performers in the period between the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the demise of the Warsaw Pact in 1989. It contends that the Western licensed music program, which East Germany’s music industry had designed to generate lucrative profits for the state and disperse opposition to cultural isolationism, led the country’s market into dependency on the capitalist entertainment industry. Based on the evaluation of exclusive primary source material such as formerly top secret production figures and oral histories by industry insiders, it showcases the first empirical analysis of a communist music marketplace. The paper argues that steady commercialization and, therefore, Westernization of its pop album market exemplified the GDR’s decision to concede the Cold War battle over the cultural preferences and political loyalties of its citizens for economic necessities.
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