The 18th edition of the world music expo Womex took place on 17-22 October 2012 in Thessaloniki, Greece. With 2,200 delegates this year and 1,200 companies from 90 countries, Womex remains the key specialist event for building an international network for your artist or project. With the support of APEX, Brasil Music Exchange attended to the Brazil stand which hosted 28 companies from all over the country, including managers, producers, labels and artists as well as institutional organisations such as Sebrae/RJ and government bodies, such as SECULT BA, the Bahia Secretariat of Culture.
Sebrae/RJ, which supports development for small businesses from Rio de Janeiro, attended with 12 delegates, all of whom reported that the event was a positive and productive experience for their businesses.
In preparation for Womex, CMJ and future trade-fairs, SECULT BA produced a dedicated guide to the Bahian music industry - Guia MobiArt – a very useful mobile app and online portal mapping out the local music scene and creative industry infrastructure. While CDs, bags and Tshirts are ever popular as promotional items for key contacts, this kind of digital resource, which can be continually updated and marketed, is a welcome (and weightless!) addition to the toolkit. Maybe it’s also a good potential model for a national online guide to the Brazilian music industry, as for many outsiders the immense size and federal nature of Brazil’s music business and institutions can be difficult to navigate.
The state of Minas Gerais was in full-effect, fronted by the collective organisation, the Forum da Musica de Minas, another useful gateway into the independent music scene of an entire state. With a programme of showcases on the OffWomex stage, Minas Gerais presented three artists: Thiago Delegado, Makely Ka andGraveola e o Lixo Polifonico. Graveola have recently signed to London label Mais Um Discos and took advantage of the Womex trip by playing 5 other European shows in October.
Ricardo Herz Trio (represented by Scubidu) performed in the official Womex showcase programme, the only Brazilian show selected this year. The IMZ screens world music films at Womex, and this year selected Mawaca– Songs of the Forest – as part of their programme of 17 films in 2012.
Womex showcases (there were 61 shows this year) give international artists the refreshing opportunity to be themselves. Artists play to audiences of media and industry professionals with decades of experience in all genres and an openness which reflects a global public with an ever increasing enthusiasm for listening to music from all over the world. Nobody on a Womex jury has ever demanded artists “should sing in English” (as one other music trade-fair used to do). That kind of close-minded attitude to international music does not exist at Womex, this is an event celebrating difference and excellence and most of all excellent difference. The variety here is stunning and over-whelming, what counts is quality not category. Brazilian music, in all its diversity, has a natural place here.
Marie Ofinger of EMA Produçoes (representing among others Tiganá and Soraia Drummond) commented on “the openness of the delegates, their easy access. They were interested to listen to my artists description. Also the sensation that we are all part of a global shared interest, of world music with roots and identity within a contemporary vision.” Tigana is now signed to Swedish label Ajabu.
Aline Yasmin of Instituto Quorum, who made positive steps towards 2013 partnerships in Italy and Portugal for the Espirito Mundo project, adds: “Womex is a trade-fair where you can meet professionals who are genuinely interested in doing business.” She also highlights the importance of networking with fellow Brazilians, formalizing a collective approach to international activities would bring mutual benefit to many in the Brazilian music business.
A key new trend, as noted by Geraldinho Magalhaes from Rio production company Diversao e Arte, is that people are increasingly shifting their focus onto the Brazilian market as a place for opportunity. The economic boom in Brazil stands in stark contrast to the recession in the Europe zone (and with Greece as the back-drop to Womex this year, this was never far from anyone’s thoughts). With this rising interest in the possibility of new business opportunities around the World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016, the dialogue between Brazilian and international companies is taking new directions towards creative and commercial exchange.
Geraldinho Magalhaes: “This could be very positive if it’s managed well. Artists from outside who bring quality and innovation, and promoters and agents from outside who are talented and experienced, can bring their expertise to our internal market as it accelerates.”
Looking ahead, Womex veterans Paulo Andre Pires and Melina Hickson have been busy networking in preparation for the next Portomusical encounter in Recife, Pernambuco (30 January-2 February 2013). A vibrant international forum to continue Womex conversations and begin new ones as we anticipate Womex 2013 in Cardiff, UK.
If you were a Brazilian delegate at Womex 2012 and have further comments to add, please feel free to get in touch.
And if you were an international delegate who made Brazilian contacts let us know your feedback, and if you would like to extend your Brazilian network Brasil Music Exchange is always here to help you make future connections.
Jody Gillett. Brasil Music Exchange, London.