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World Famous

Given the loud wailing, whining and misconceived outpourings often instigated by the result of their inspiration, you’d think that when Bhundu Boys record co. man ‘Champion’ Doug Veitch prompted Ben Mandelson and Roger Armstrong of GlobeStyle Records to convene a meeting of interested parties to try and market the music they loved, they’d been using the dark arts to summon up evil.

However, they didn’t manage to recreate the Anti-Christ, but instead came up with one of the most successful marketing campaigns in recent history – although some clearly confuse the two. They simply coined a term that had been in use since the ’60s by ethnomusicologists, ‘world music’, for use as a rack header in record shops. As Ben says, “It was an idea waiting to happen. ‘World music’ was not a result of the meetings, the meetings were a result of the music that everyone there was already involved with.”

Iain Scott, who had licensed Khaled through Triple Earth, said that the meeting on June 29th 1987 was a response by the growing number of independent companies and individuals working with music from outside their own culture to see how they might help each other. “Idealists,” Ben notes, “engaged in a fit of pragmatism.”

It led to a whip round and a total marketing budget of three and a half grand with which to engage a PR, and make up ‘world music’ headboards displaying that name and the contributing record companies’ logos. Stern’s agreed to haul these round the record shops and persuade them to take stock on a sale or return basis. A simple signpost to a wealth of hitherto largely unavailable yet limitless musical possibilities.

fRom fRoots 289, July 2007


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