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MANNHEIM MAKES MUSIC: 15 YEARS OF THE POP ACADEMY

The “Popakademie Baden-Württemberg” (Pop Academy) is a creative institution, a musical talent factory and unique in Germany. In 2018, the Pop Academy is celebrating its 15th anniversary and can look back on a string of success stories.

Alice Merton
Alice Merton © Paper Plane Records

You’re sure to be familiar with Alice Merton. Even if you don’t have the best memory for names, the haunting bass sounds of her song “No Roots” is certain to strike a chord. This young artist made her international debut with this catchy tune, which was awarded the German Music Authors’ Prize in 2017 in the category “Most Successful Work”. After a brilliant entry into the US Billboard Charts, Alice Merton recently made a guest appearance in Hollywood, where she delighted studio and TV audiences on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Alice Merton acquired her musical fine-tuning in Mannheim – more precisely at the Pop Academy, where she sank deep roots over three fruitful years. Here, creative artists not only acquire the tools they need to gain a foothold in the music business, but also benefit from an unparalleled support network to help them build long-lasting success.

© Pexels

Led by frontman Konstantin Gropper, the indie band Get Well Soon has also triumphed internationally. In addition, bassist Timo Kumpf enriches Mannheim and the region as a festival promoter with the “Zeltfestival” and the Maifeld Derby, which is considered one of the top indie festivals in Germany today. Christian Kalla, who wrote and co-produced the hit “Fireworks” for megastars Drake and Alicia Keys under the stage name Crada, is active on the international scene too. His former fellow student Jules Kalmbacher is also a music producer and songwriter, for among others Imagine Dragons, Xavier Naidoo and Cro. The list of Pop Academy graduates who now occupy central positions in the music business is long and impressive – and it’s certain to get even longer in the future. The stars of tomorrow can already be experienced in music city Mannheim – for example in the popular concert series “Work in Progress Club”, where students of the Pop Academy present their latest songs.

Popakademie Baden-Württemberg
Popakademie Baden-Württemberg © Stadtmarketing Mannheim GmbH, Achim Mende

Since its foundation in 2003, under the direction of Udo Dahmen and Hubert Wandjo the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg has developed into a permanent fixture in the music world – despite the critics and sceptics who claimed it was not possible to study how to become a pop star. As well as being a training ground for performing artists, the Pop Academy is the epicentre of Mannheim’s creative scene for people who are interested in careers away from the spotlight, offering its expertise and experience to train an array of would-be managers, bookers and promoters.

Art and business are closely intertwined in the three Bachelor’s and two Master’s programmes offered in the fields of “Music and Creative Industries” and “Popular Music”. The success of the Pop Academy can be clearly seen in the fact that 90% of graduates go on to make their living in the music business. Pop music as an economic factor is a matter of course in creative Mannheim.

Joris
Joris © Klaus Sahm

Joris, too, is storming the charts and conquering the hearts of music fans at lightning speed with his German lyrics and international sound. Yet another commercial success for the Pop Academy in Mannheim. His springboard into a career as a professional musician was provided by the “Pop Music Design” study programme. Vocals, instruments, songwriting and producing are among the focal points of this subject, which sharpens musical talent through relevant lecturers, lights the creative fire and powerfully accelerates potential.

The young singer-songwriter has won over fans and industry experts alike. Gold records, nominations and prestigious awards are not just a wonderful tribute to Joris, but also to his Mannheim alma mater. This legacy follows him around, even today – the musicians in his band are also former students of this unique university in Mannheim’s hip and happening Jungbusch district.

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