As one of the inventors of World Music back before there was Worlde music, back before the legendary cabals of the Empress of Russia . . . oops, scrub all that crap, REWIND!!!!!!!!!
I suppose . . . I would like to point out, first, that this discussion is (reasonably enough under the circumstances) oriented towards the UK situation (sounds like there's mucho disagreement as to whether it really qualifies as a "scene" any longer â€” but what scene is a scene without the biting of the back that we see so magnificently displayed within these fora?). Secondly, compared to the United States of Amnesia, Paranoia and All Round Xenophobia, the UK situation (and Europe as a whole) appears quite healthy. Strength in diversity and all that.
However, I think that the big issue, which I see little commented upon, is that the fundamental point, ("Ooh, loookkk, 'es's a fundamentalist, now!"), the original driving purpose of world music was just to be able to check in with some other fellow humans on a cultural level. Sure, we knew that commerce greased the wheels and a bit of money helped the artist eat, we occasionally (like everyday) had delusions of our own grandeur, but it was about respecting artists from other cultures â€” which at the time was not an everyday notion. Today, I think that goal has to a large extent been met. Who cares what the mainstream music business (MMB) thinks? They've always been money-grubbers and why should they change? They'll make more money selling crap and manipulating tastes than they ever will dealing with real artists. (Van Morrison and all like that excepted, of course â€” but I do remember when Van Morrison lost his recording contract!)
Err, well, obviously, we should care what the MMB thinks because people (the good folks, our friends, the noble warriors of elevated musical tastes) want/need to stay in business and how are you going to do that without kissing the almighty asses of those who rule the marketplace and control Radio Whatever?
As I've said before within these discussions, this is a time of opportunity as well as challenge. The old ways are on their way out! Artists today have more opportunities to get their music out than ever before. They don't have to pay attention to the old rules. It's not that everything will change overnight â€” but in a few more years, perhaps five, artists who by definition are not pop floss candy crap manufactured to appease the preformed conformed so-called tastes of ravenous hordes of suburban suckers at the tits of consumeristic pap will either be able to sell their recordings or have to accept that their talent is not that appealing for one reason or another. How exactly this will happen I don't know â€” so don't bother asking. When I do, I'll surely be out there hustling it.
But what I do know is that it's a complete waste of time expecting to get anywhere complaining that the great unwashed don't get exposed to the good stuff and that's why the good stuff isn't doing as well as it undoubtedly deserves to. People who are interested in culture go out and look for it. Unfortunately, that's only a small proportion of the general population. Sure, when someone's cousin or brother finally hears something from outside their tiny little world, they go, "That's not bad! What's that called?" but they've chosen to limit their horizons and one good tune is not going to alter their fundamental disinterest in cultural expressions from further afield than their corner pub.
"World music" has been around for over twenty years now. It's not the next big thing. It's just a "thing" like jazz or blues or bluegrass. It'll be fine because people love it, for musical reasons, for cultural reasons, for principled reasons, for real reasons. It doesn't need validation by a bunch of breadheads!
The modern buzz just doesn't seem to last as long as those of yore.
Rereading the above and thinking further â€” and having had a disappointing afternoon trawling the record stores of Seattle â€” part of my point (but not clearly made, if at all) was that unless one can find the recordings there isn't much point to all the promo, reviews, and radio play.
For music to be world or global, it must be available globally â€” and locally. That simply isn't the case once one is outside a few favored locales. And although more is available via the i-net, I will admit to being luddite enough to like the immediate thrill of ripping the plastic off the case and thrusting the CD into the drive. (Sorry about that. Didn't mean to get graphic. Or allow Mr. Ian A. too much satisfaction.)
So, actually, I admit to it all being a bit of a quandary. Brave new world of buying everything from sources far away or the old hanging around in a record store panning for gold and engaging with the mystery of serendipity?
But jazz? Or pop? Who cares? Sometimes I like one and sometimes I like the other and sometimes I like something else entirely.