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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:17 pm
by judith
The subject of royalty fees, ASCAP/BMI, and retailers in the U.S. contributes greatly to Putumayo's successful visibility in many stores and shops which do not sell records, cd's and the like. Briefly, one will be subject to fines even if they play the radio. The following is a brief explanation plus an example of an alternative to the problem faced by many store owners who care about the quality, kind of music they, their employees, and their customers are subjected to.
http://www.r-vcr.com/music/copyright/stores.htm

However, one way around the problem is to sell copies of the music which is being played. I know retailers who have attempted to do so, but it is easy to imagine how difficult that can be. Particularly if you own a feed store (farm supplies) and have absolutely no access to reps and distributors of music not to mention such activity ties up the cash flow. Then, there's the conundrum of 'display'. You'd be surprised how many items retailers sell simply because it comes already set up in a display, ready to set out on the store floor or counter. Putumayo solved more than one retailer's difficulties with their range of compilations, their displays (it's been pointed out above how successfully memorable their style is), and their wholesale accessibility. As has been mentioned above, they are consistent in their efficiency, quality, and are acceptable to those whom things like Fair Trade are an issue. And, as June has already pointed out, their children's line of music is sought after by those with either great or little interest in music on it's own.

For those who aren't aware, Putumayo also has a clothing and a home deco line:

http://www.charlestonbusiness.com/pub/2 ... 891-1.html

(I apologize for not using Tinyurl. I'm on a borrowed computer and haven't the time to look for the site)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:45 pm
by CantSleepClownsWillGetMe
Is it true that even female world-music fans in the UK wear beards?


Wear?!?

.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:58 pm
by judith
BenSerbutt wrote:
This is my first time commenting on a forum, but I thought after noticing the above comments, I should test the waters and wade in. Being the Songlines art director and all..


You post is absolutely fascinating. I don't have a physical copy of Songlines (nor do the local shops carry it) or I would go get one to use as a visual aide. Thank you for taking the time to wade in with such a thorough description.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:16 am
by Jonathan E.
CantSleepClownsWillGetMe wrote:
Is it true that even female world-music fans in the UK wear beards?


Wear?!?

.

A carefully chosen word!

email from Dan Storper

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:18 am
by Charlie
email from Dan Storper

Dear Sound of the World Forum members,

First let me thank Charlie and Ian for their longtime fair and balanced observations about Putumayo. I'm really not quite sure why so many British world music cogniscenti have been so critical of Putumayo. So far as I know, England is the only country in the world where we are so criticized. Nonetheless, I continue to try to clear up inaccuracies and point out a few things that might help people understand our label better.

Our goal is to introduce people to music and cultures around the world. It isn’t intended for longtime devotees of world music although we have gained thousands of such fans. Our success in the US, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and many other countries around the world has greatly increased interest and sales of world music in those countries.

Over the years, we've introduced Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne to Habib Koite, Carlos Santana to Toure Kunda and many other musicians to international artists they subsequently collaborated with. Scores of artists discovered on our collections have been subsequently signed to labels, developed touring careers, provided music for films, tv and commercials or simply found a way to earn more money to continue to develop their careers.

Taj Mahal, who has appeared on 6 of our CDs starting with Mali to Memphis, has told me that he gets more public response from having a track on one of our collections than when he puts out his own albums.

While our CDs are meant as introductions to genres/countries, they have developed a following among long time world music fans and I feel that albums like Mali, Republica Dominicana, Cuba, Congo to Cuba, Mali to Memphis, Brasileiro, Cape Verde, Acoustic Africa and scores of others are stronger than any other similar albums.

No offense to Rough Guide, Manteca, Union Square or any other compilation label, but I'd be happy to do a comparison with 100 random people in each of a 100 countries asking them to listen to the albums and I'd wager $100 to a $1 that Putumayo's CDs would be selected 9 out of 10 times. In fact, one of the most consistent comments I receive is how much more people enjoy our CDs than other companies’ compilations. In fact, I believe that the inconsistency of the tracks on those companies’ albums probably has hindered the development of world music fans in the UK.

We have sold about 22 million CDs since we started in 1993. 3 albums, Cuba, Arabic Groove and French Café are each approaching 500,000 CDs sold. 5 others have sold over 300,000 and 25 have sold 200,000 or more. Marketing helps but most sales are through word of mouth and/or people hearing the music playing in stores.

Why are they shorter than most CDs? The most important thing to me is the listener’s musical experience. For each collection, I listen to hundreds of songs and the songs that I select are played for our US and European staff who are diverse and quite picky. Tracks making it through those sessions tend to be exceptional. Then, the licensing begins. Not every track we want can be licensed. Then comes the sequencing. In the course of sequencing, tracks that don't quite fit drop out. With artist/label approval, we usually edit three or more songs per album. Having put together more than 150 collections, I like to joke that more time and effort gets spent eliminating songs than finding them. I have tested album lengths on people and have found that 40-45 minutes seems to be the ideal length for most people.

CD cover criticisms? Like it or not, a significant part of Putumayo's success are the recognizable, naïve art covers. Admittedly, there are some even I’m not crazy about, but over all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive even in the UK.

I could go on but the one thing I’d ask is for our UK critics to listen to each of our collections objectively, understanding the above. These aren’t intended for you but I believe they have been more consistent and stronger overall than any other compilation series and have been instrumental in creating more new world music fans than just about any other effort.

Sincerely,

Dan Storper

Founder/CEO

Re: email from Dan Storper

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:19 am
by Charlie
Dan Storper wrote:I feel that albums like Mali, Republica Dominicana, Cuba, Congo to Cuba, Mali to Memphis, Brasileiro, Cape Verde, Acoustic Africa and scores of others are stronger than any other similar albums.

I vote for Republica Dominicana as still the best-ever collection of its kind

Dan Storper wrote:We have sold about 22 million CDs since we started in 1993.

3 albums, Cuba, Arabic Groove and French Café are each approaching 500,000 CDs sold.

5 others have sold over 300,000 and

25 have sold 200,000 or more.

Marketing helps but most sales are through word of mouth and/or people hearing the music playing in stores.

As readers will know by now, these sales are stupendous; and, incidentally, surprising. If Dan had asked, "guess which 3 of our albums have sold half a million?", I would not have picked any of these three. Not for aesthetic reasons - they are all good - but I wouldn't have guessed that these genres would do so much better than all the others.

Wise after the event, I can understand why Cuba would do so well, after the market for Cuban music was opened up by Buena Vista. The others must have made their mark for exactly the reason Dan cites - they're well selected, and popular with in-store assistants.

Re: email from Dan Storper

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:45 am
by Papa M
Charlie wrote:email from Dan Storper


No offense to Rough Guide, Manteca, Union Square or any other compilation label, but I'd be happy to do a comparison with 100 random people in each of a 100 countries asking them to listen to the albums and I'd wager $100 to a $1 that Putumayo's CDs would be selected 9 out of 10 times. In fact, one of the most consistent comments I receive is how much more people enjoy our CDs than other companies’ compilations. In fact, I believe that the inconsistency of the tracks on those companies’ albums probably has hindered the development of world music fans in the UK.

Dan Storper

Founder/CEO


With the greatest respect - I don't think that such an arrogant and far fetched claim will win you many friends, nor will it give your label much credibility.

Putamayo have released some great compilations - as have those other labels. I'd be inclined to leave it at that.

Re: email from Dan Storper

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:46 pm
by Charlie
Papa M wrote:With the greatest respect - I don't think that such an arrogant and far fetched claim will win you many friends, nor will it give your label much credibility.

Not necessarily arrogant - if Dan doesn't say it, who will say it for him? How else to explain the low sales of other compilations? I agree with him that most compilations are poorly-sequenced.

We've discussed it here before. The compilers are paid so little, they don't have time for the endless refinements that go into each Putumayo album.

It is a characteristic of most best-selling albums that they glide along without most listeners spotting the joins. Try Nora Jones as a good example. I like her a song at a time and can't bear to go through the whole record. But the world in general doesn't agree with me.

Sales figures are an important index, and Putumayo has uniquely proved what the rest of us believe without much alternative evidence: there is a much bigger market for world music than the generally low UK record sales figures in this market suggest.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:56 pm
by Tom McPhillips
Well, I said "Horses for Courses' and now we have it straight from the Horse's Mouth. Thank you Dan!

It seems my three favorite island destinations for music in the world, though I've not visited any of them physically yet. are Cape Verde, Zanzibar and Okinawa. I was introduced to Zanzibar by Ian Anderson, and though I found Okinawa by myself (as in "there must be some Japanese music I like"), with help from Paul Fisher, it was Putumayo that took me to Cape Verde, and even though I now have a greater depth of knowledge, (and just about every Cesaria Evora CD), that original Putumayo compilation still stands up as a perfect compilation of some of my favorite music.

Personally I'd love to hear Putumayo's take on the the other two islands, I'm surprised there isn't an Okinawa collection, there's so much music that would fit the bill, but I can see that Zanzibar wouldn't be so easy! The reason why I'd like to see those compilations? Because that fantastic music should be heard by more people, and a release on Putumayo could make that happen, I don't think a release on any other label would even approach the potential of achieving so much and putting it in front of so many people, and for me that's what really underlines Mr. Storper's tremendous success.

On the other hand I'm not holding any hopes out for Putumayo's Medieval Groove from the Goth Countries...

I wish Dan continued success and long may Putumayo flourish!

Re: email from Dan Storper

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:22 pm
by Papa M
Charlie wrote:Not necessarily arrogant - if Dan doesn't say it, who will say it for him?


If nobody else will say it then it is by definition arrogance.

Incidently - I've never particularly noticed that there are "endless refinements" in Putamayo releases that are not on other labels. As I said - they all release good compilations, and sometimes they all release weak compilations.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:43 am
by howard male
Charlie wrote -

Not necessarily arrogant - if Dan doesn't say it, who will say it for him? How else to explain the low sales of other compilations? I agree with him that most compilations are poorly-sequenced.


No, not arrogant but selective of the facts. Surely claiming that a CD's success sales-wise is purely down to that CD's excellence is a little absurd, just as it would be absurd to say that the Sun newspaper's success was down to the fact that it's much better written than the poorer selling Guardian.

In Putumayo's case isn't it more down to the fact their CDs can be purchased in thousands of locations that other CDs do not reach? And that these places are conducive to the spontaneous purchase of brightly coloured things which will improve your life? I would imagine large sales figures are more the result of the fact that 'Arabic Groove,' or whatever, is dreamily picked up at the same time as someone is purchasing a coffee and a blueberry muffin, rather than the fact that the songs are in a more pleasing order than the songs on a comparable CD.

But having said all that, on a more positive note, several contributions to this strand have made me rethink my partially irrational prejudice towards the label and should one of their CDs land on my mat one morning I'll consider it more seriously.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:10 pm
by Tom McPhillips
howard male wrote:

In Putumayo's case isn't it more down to the fact their CDs can be purchased in thousands of locations that other CDs do not reach? And that these places are conducive to the spontaneous purchase of brightly coloured things which will improve your life? I would imagine large sales figures are more the result of the fact that 'Arabic Groove,' or whatever, is dreamily picked up at the same time as someone is purchasing a coffee and a blueberry muffin, rather than the fact that the songs are in a more pleasing order than the songs on a comparable CD.



To get that CD into that position where even the possibility of an impulse buy can exist, is an amazing achievement in it's own right. The fact that it's a World Music product is frankly astounding. The product doesn't get into thousands of locations by magic, it takes a huge amount of work,resources and constant promotion. And then of course it takes a successful product so that those retailers will continue to stock the products, since retail is all about the survival of the sellable, shelf space is expensive, if a product doesn't sell another will quickly take its place.

This is an area where Starbucks has also succeeded in bringing music to a public that wouldn't normally get exposed to a whole range of singer-songwriters, garage bands, classic music and Americana that they would not otherwise have encountered. Yes, money is made, and I do understand that Brits see that as a problem, but the choice of what music to stock seems to be not entirely a business decision but guided by company members' personal choices.

And while it's encouraging to think that from now on Howard will take Putumayo releases more "seriously", to some extent that's somewhat ironic, since one of Dan Storper's strategies has been to sideline and bypass the normal channels of distribution (and criticism) in favor of word of mouth and store keepers' recommendations.

And you seem to imply that's there's something morally reprehensible with an impulse buy? Some of my favorite music has been bought that way!

What are you saying Howard? That unless a purchase has been carefully researched with due diligence and backed by the seal of approval of proper critics such as your good self who define and demarcate whether the music is appropriate to and representative of World Music and meets certain standards, it's not valid?

That's poppycock!

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:26 pm
by howard male
Tom protested -

And is there something morally wrong with an impulse buy? Some of my favorite music has been bought that way! What are you saying Howard? That unless a purchase has been carefully researched with due diligence and backed by the seal of approval of proper critics such as your good self who define and demarcate whether the music is appropriate to and representative of World Music and meets certain standards, it's not valid?

That's poppycock!


Of course that's poppycock, Tom (and thank you for reminding me of such a gentile alternative to bullshit, which I think we should all adopt from now on.) But you have just put a whole paragraph rather than just a few words into my mouth. All I was doing was offering an alternative explanation as to why Putumayo sell bucket loads more CDs than anyone else in this field, I wasn't saying there was anything wrong with an adventurous muffin chomper making a spontaneous purchasing decision.

I too am a firm believer in the spontaneous CD purchase - as a devil-may-care judger of albums by their covers, I'd have to be now, wouldn't I.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:33 pm
by Tom McPhillips
howard male wrote:I wasn't saying there was anything wrong with an adventurous muffin chomper making a spontaneous purchasing decision.



Well. I glad we let the muffin chomper off the hook after all! Let's now hope that he or she now listens to that shiny happy product and becomes exposed to a Whole Wider World Catalog of Music!

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:35 pm
by howard male
I'll drink my organic carrot juice to that!