About Us - The WMN Story
World Music Network (WMN) is one of the leading forces on the international world music scene. The popular website is the number one spot for all things ‘world music’, acting as a portal that features up-to-date news, previews, a guide sections, exclusive charts and an original Battle of the Bands competition. WMN continues to release innovative and pioneering artists and compilations through the online store, selling high-quality albums produced by World Music Network’s four record labels; Riverboat Records, Rough Guides, Introducing and Think Global. As always, the mission is to carry on introducing new listeners to the vast array of glorious global sounds.
World Music Network was founded in 1994 by husband and wife team, Phil Stanton and Colombian-born Sandra Alayón-Stanton. Previously, Phil had set up Riverboat Records, which was dreamt up in 1989 aboard a leaky barge afloat the Grand Union Canal in London. Meanwhile, Sandra had established the first Colombian club in London at La Plaza in Leicester Square and been director of Latin Promotions – a company that brought many of the best Latin American and African musicians to perform in London.WMN proudly celebrates 25 years of introducing the international artist and the global audience to one another.
World Music Network has joined the ‘1% for the Planet’ initiative and will pass on one per cent of annual turnover to sustainability-oriented, non-profit environmental organisations. Along with reducing the impacts of CD and vinyl packaging by embracing eco-friendly FSC cardboard cases that are free from plastic, WMN still stands at the vanguard of responsible and innovative business thinking.
World Music Network is the first website to appear if you search 'world music' in Google and is constantly updated with original content. Unique elements include WMN's original Charts section. Three charts rate the ten best recent audio, video and social media resources (blogs, podcasts) currently on the scene.
The Battle of the Bands competition encourages new music from across the globe. Budding artists can create a profile, post their tracks and drum up a following via social media. Every quarter year we select a winner whose track may go on to be featured on a Rough Guides compilation album and be considered for other projects.
The informative Guide To World Music section features text from the Rough Guide books to provide detailed descriptions and explanations of music from a specific country, culture or genre. Here you can learn about folk songs from Greece, spiritual Sufi music from Pakistan, jiving cumbia from Colombia and more.
Rough Guides has become known as the ‘bible of world music’ offering, via its geographical compilation format, an anthropological perspective and intellectual cross-section of a country or region’s musical traditions. World Music Network initially began working with the Rough Guide book publishers in 1994, when the first world music Rough Guide book and album were released. Both achieved instant success, with the Rough Guide book going onto become known as ‘the bible of world music’.
Phil and Sandra had originally begun pondering the issues associated with releasing music that was away from the mainstream, and which therefore suffered from a lack of media exposure and resulting distribution problems. At the time, in the early 1990s, accessing world music was not nearly as easy as it is today. This left Phil Stanton and Sandra Alayón-Stanton longing to inform interested people about world music, and the subsequent decision to launch a series of mid-price music compilations to introduce people to music from across the globe. The no-nonsense approach of the Rough Guides books – favouring a style that is intelligent and cultural, yet not academic nor flippant – was exactly how Phil and Sandra saw their own idea for music compilations. The Rough Guides marketing director Richard Trillo was very keen to have a Rough Guide To World Music compilation to accompany the book, and a successful partnership was launched.
Since then, Music Rough Guides have covered destinations as diverse as Afghanistan, Madagascar and Vietnam, and numerous musical styles such as klezmer and Bollywood. Music Rough Guides also has a top quality Jazz & Blues range, which charts the work of legends including Charley Patton, John Lee Hooker, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald and more. The Rough Guide albums have consistently risen above the grain and continue to be a vital and comprehensive source of information for anyone looking into a specific country or area of music. World Music Network’s vast catalogue has to be heard to be believed. Devour re-discovered blues, un-charted Caribbean grooves, West African jewels and psychedelic Bollywood experiences.
Riverboat Records has enjoyed twenty-five years of producing groundbreaking artists from around the world. Riverboat Records has remained dedicated to exploring musical diversity and to bringing the talents of world music artists to the public eye. Just some of the talented musicians who have featured on the label include Sambasunda Quintet, Koo Nimo, Samba Touré, Mory Kanté, Debashish Bhattacharya, Sierra Maestra and Etran Finatawa and Krar Collective.
Indian guitar genius Debashish Bhattacharya has been working with Riverboat Records for many years and plans are in the works for new explorations. He initially collaborated with Hawaiian slide guitarist Bob Brozman to produce Mahima – described by MOJO as ‘truly groundbreaking’ – before going on to release several solo albums. His first album, Calcutta Slide-Guitar (The Times ‘the results are as beautiful as they are extraordinary’) won the BBC World Music Award in 2007; and his second, Calcutta Chronicles (The Independent ‘serenely accomplished exoticism’) was nominated for a 2009 Grammy; Beyond the Ragasphere (2013) recruits the talents of Jerry Douglas’ slide guitar and jazz-fusion guitarist John McLaughin, with vocals from his daughter Anandi Bhattacharya. This latest work was labelled by The Guardian as ‘a boldly original fusion experiment’ (4****stars) and received notable mention in the 2013 WOMEX Label Award.
A legendary West African singer and kora player, Mory Kanté is an exceptionally talented griot from Guinea. He was the first African artist to sell a million singles, with ‘Yéké Yéké’ in the 1980s, and was a contemporary to Salif Keita in the Rail Band in the 1970s. Riverboat Records released his stunning all-acoustic album Sabou to great acclaim (The Observer ‘another magical future classic’) in 2004.
Etran Finatawa have not let the fact that their home, Niger, is amongst the poorest nations in the world hold them back from international success. A blend of musical cultures and of ethnicities, the band draws on the rich musical heritages of the Tuareg, Fulani and Wodaabe nomadic peoples. Etran’s international success was imported through WMN’s Introducing label, fielding the album Introducing Etran Finatawa (2008), dubbed an “impressive” (The Guardian, 4****stars) debut. Riverboat Records released Etran’s follow-up titles Desert Crossroads (The Guardian “sturdy and cheerfully melodic” 4****stars) in the same year; followed by Tarkat Tajje/Let’s Go! (afropop.org “propulsive, but light as air, quite irresistible”) in 2010. The Sahara Sessions(2013) – recorded under the searing sun and glittering night sky of the Sahara Desert, lends their sound a quality which helped earn them a notable mention in the 2013 WOMEX Label Award jointly presented to World Music Network and Riverboat Records. Lead guitarist Alhousseini Anivolla has also released a solo album entitled Anewal/The Walking Man (2008).
A separate artist label to Riverboat Records, Introducing was launched by World Music Network in 2004, out of a desire to promote exposure for exceptional and previously undiscovered musical talent from around the world. Delivered at an affordable price, Introducing showcases artists previously unreleased or unavailable outside their own country and delivers captivating music, top-notch sound quality and in-depth information on the artists and their music.
The Introducing label has had a number of success stories including Senegalese guitarist Daby Balde, Mongol-Chinese rockers Hanggai and Saharan blues masters Etran Finatawa. Daby Balde’s debut album on Introducing was described by The Observer as ‘astonishingly good… of extraordinary quality’; whilst Etran Finatawa’s was described by Evening Standard as ‘one of the year’s most refreshing records’; with Hanggai’s debut coined ‘transcendently powerful music’ Pitchfork.
Other notable projects include albums from Finnish quartet Kardemimmit, biram maestro Malam Mamane Barka and the late South African maskanda maestro Shiyani Ngcobo (The Observer ‘Zulu rock ‘n’ roll’).
World Music Network sees a clear connection between world music and social change and has established good relationships with a number of development and human rights organisations. This has led to the production of a number of fund raising albums released in association with Amnesty International and Oxfam.
Think Global combines the ideals of reducing poverty, defending human rights and protecting the environment with superb collections of cutting edge music from around the world. Success stories have included Think Global: Women Of Africa (Songlines ‘buy it and enjoy’) and Think Global: West Africa Unwired (The Independent ‘a perfect introduction’).
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