Joining the Wider Music Community

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An article from Horus Music India’s Business Development Manager, Malini Mariharan.

This year for the first time we attended the World Music Expo (WOMEX) in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  WOMEX is THE marketplace for world music. This includes roots, traditional, folk music from all parts of the world. The specialty of WOMEX is that every year it chooses a new, exciting and unique location. This year it was in Santiago de Compostela in the region of Galicia, Spain.

Santiago is the culmination of the medieval pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago or St. James Way.  Santiago is also said to be the ‘New Orleans of Spain’ and on the opening night of WOMEX we did indeed get a taste of some “musical tapas.”

5 absolutely riveting bands from different regions of Spain that performed on the opening night and instantly boosted expectations! It was not disappointing to say the least.

The first day was pretty overwhelming with a 9 am start. Additionally, the sun in this part of the world rises quite late (post 8:30 am), which is very new to me. I hail from a tropical climate, with consistent sunrises and sunsets throughout most of the year. We arrived at Cidade de Cultura, a magnificent modern structure, to be met by a bunch of early arrivers. We learnt very soon that most of the action at this conference was in the evening post the trade fair!  During the 3 days of the trade fair we met artists, labels, managers, cultural organisations, music export offices and promoters from all over the world including Azerbaijan, Iran, Cape Verde and Cuba!

The WOMEX conference was filled with positivity and vibrance. It is a meeting place of professionals wanting to do business but also are passionate about music and their artists. Whomever I made contact with and also whomever I met at the conference seemed to emulate an exuberance that I haven’t encountered previously in so much abundance in the music industry. With 2400+ delegates and around 300 participating musicians it was a little difficult to know what to expect. The WOMEX website, was quite a contrast to the physical conference that is so well organised and executed.

The WOMEX Community

This was an event that was really all about the music! Every evening for 3 nights 15 bands were showcased in 4 different stunning venues in the medieval town of Santiago. From an outdoor arena in the old square (Praza da Quintana) to the old theatre (Teatro Principal), I had the opportunity to get transported to an era gone by. The showcases were fantastic and featured music from Namibia, Mali, Israel, Argentina, Venezuela and many more countries!

Also with regards to India, had we not been to WOMEX this year, we’d have never encountered the two Indian companies we met. It seems that lots of companies have restricted their exposure to certain circles, therefore making it difficult to find them. Being present at these sort of gatherings gives us a bit of an edge as we keep our eyes and ears open and also helps us become a part of a larger community that’s all about the music!

The other opportunity such conferences give is the chance to meet veterans with a variety of grand experiences across the music industry. Such people provide valuable information that adds to our learning curve individually and as a company.

My first WOMEX was absolutely brilliant and I look forward to attending the next one.