‘Exchanging Market Research: towards a European World Music Index (EWMI)’

Babel Med Music 2015, March 27th- Marseille

organised by: World Music Forum NL

speakers: Rob Boonzajer Flaes (researcher), Claudia de Graauw (researcher)

– – – –  – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – — — – —

This round-table conference is a follow-up of previous meetings held at Babel Med 2014 and Womex 2014. Its main goal is the creation of a European World Music Index (EWMI) as a firm tool to make a significant difference in drawing up policy and to empower World Music on a European scale. In between progress has been made concerning a pilot for the EWMI in 2016. Several countries joined in for a short term Creative Europe grant application. This grant is initiated by the European Union for Europe’s cultural and creative sectors aiming to open up new opportunities.

The Babel Med meeting offered a finetuning moment on issues such as the selection of indices, method and conditions for the grant application. At the same time it crystallized the process of introducing a shared interest in many different countries.

In his welcoming speech Rob Boonzajer Flaes stresses the importance of such a European index: “Let’s stop questioning what World Music is and start the exchange of data. Because we are also an industry that needs facts and figures. Because they mean something, they prove you do exist”.  He considers World Music as ‘undergrowth’: “It is everywhere but compared to classical music, pop and jazz almost invisible”. Such an index is necessary and empowering because “With the help of ‘A world of sounds & opportunities’ the World Music scene has become a serious partner”. At least in The Netherlands where Boonzajer conducted this research project. “Let’s do it now on a European scale, all should have access to these data”.

Research model (concept)
The what & how was explained by fellow researcher Claudia de Graauw.

By taking ‘A world of sounds & opportunities’ (*) as a research model De Graauw explains how quantitative data on the world music industry can be collected. “To determine the size and relevance of the sector we created five batches. The advantage of this system is that you know what you have”.

1. Creators (genres, employment, numbers of performances, turnover)

2. Consumers (audiences of venues and festivals, consumers of TV, radio, CD, streaming)

3. Locations (theatres, festivals, other locations)

4. Facilitators (bookers, agents, programmers, management, logistics)

5. Educators (universities, conservatories, music schools, tutors)

Creators- ‘What kind of data did we gather?’

Research was conducted on professional musicians who indicated that at least a portion of their work is dedicated to giving concerts (or lessons) in world music.

– 62%male, – 38%female

– 33% of the musicians work in world music ‘on the side’, therefore along with classical or jazz

– On average they perform 43 times a year, which in 25 cases (=58%) had to do with world music.

Creators- How did we gather these data?

– Online survey among musicians in the World Music industry

Interviews with musicians in the World Music industry.

(**) for further details on the other 4 batches

 “Is the model complete? Are these the right categories and indicators? Do you have additions to the model?”. De Graauw’s concluding questions spark a chain reaction, Europe in a nutshell….

Petr Dorůžka/ Tjech Republic (Cross Roads, Colours of Ostrava) stresses the lack of data in his country: “We have to start from zero”.

Francois Bensignor/ France (until recent manager of traditional and worldmusic at IRMA) informs about the rich data collection at IRMA: “We had the first database of Europe but it is private and IRMA is not free to disclose their data. That is why European money is so important!”. He also points at other problems: “One has to know how to mix data,” and: “Beware of the use of different technologies”.

– Christine Semba/ Germany (Womex Consultancy) emphasizes how useful the Womex-data can be. Still, whereas other countries act as one nation: “Germany has a federal system”. Furthermore: “Indeed, we cannot  work together with IRMA because of privacy, we don’t have the right to share”.

– Birgit Ellinghaus/ Germany (alba KULTUR) experienced “How World Music always was rejected by the German music industry and music institutions”. Therefore alba KULTUR created the online platform ‘Globale- Musik’(*) for exclusively Germany based players in the field of global music. alba KULTUR did the project development and the research on the behalf of the Regional Music Council of North Rhine Westphalia LMR NRW & Deutsches Musik Informationszentrum MIZ and with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture in North Rhine Westphalia. This project was payed with public money to set all data freely accessible.

– Balázs Weyer/ Hungary (Womex/ Export Hungary) wonders how to solve problems of genre and location: “Some call it folk or traditional music and a huge part of this scene happens under the radar. A big problem in Middle and Eastern Europe, we are talking about probably 40%. How to incorporate these data?”

– Colombian speaker, living in Spain: “Spain has no data at all, World Music is just local music”.

– Rob Boonzajer Flaes: “World Music is what people consider as World Music. Music that has been on Womex, do it in a local way”.

– Claudia de Graauw: “It might be different per country, here we enter the famous World Music definition discussion. Be practical, just start!”


Running out of time the discussion continued on smaller scale in informal setting.

> Data collecting

-Rob Boonzajer Flaes: “Although we don’t exist for the industry there is no category for us, well let’s show. History repeats itself. Think of how people once laughed at flamenco, jazz and ragtime”.

– Birgit Ellinghaus: “If you are not visible in database, you don’t exist”

– Claudia de Graauw: “You don’t need all data for a European grant but be clear why you research and know the data that have already been collected”.

– András Lelkes: “Share contacts through existing networks. Right organisations have a lot of data. At Womex should come a round-table of rightorganisations in Europe.

– Birgit Ellinghaus: “With Globale-Musik there is already a platform for data research, in Cologne. We have to check out what has been done in other countries”.

– Suggesion: At Womex Budapest a  round-table of right organisations in Europe should be held.

> Definition

– Francois Bensignor: “This classification will do, also useful for amateur music:

1. extra-european music notated or transmitted from classical musical styles with their own system and language; 2. Oral musics from everywhere including folkmusic because folkmusic was once oral and later notated; 3. Contemporary crossover and creolized music, like tango”.

– Kenan Ozturk: “Ever since Ataturk all traditional music is strictly divided at Turkish conservatories into Ottoman classique/ popular”.

> Future

–  Why start a new database model? We could better chose between already existing data networks and adapt these to other platforms and countries:

1. the Womex website

2. the Globale-Musik website


–  Instead of applying for a short term Creative Europe grant to create an european world music data base, it is preferable to join and support the LEMON application in collaboration with the dutch network partner RASA. World Music Forum NL will keep contact with Birgit Ellinghaus on this.

– At Womex Budapest our conversation on methods of datacollecting and ways of financing shall be continued.

Stan Rijven, May 2015

(*) Research results  ‘A world of sounds & opportunities, World Music in The Netherlands (2012)

(**) Prestentation of the research model (tba)


The online portal “Global music in Germany” is a comprehensive database that private, civil society and public actors of the global music (except European classical music, traditional music, folk and world music) identified in Germany, captured and makes publicly visible. The aim is that the various players on networking, (etc. education, science, media, cultural policy and funding environment) to allow them access to all structures of musical life and to bring about its recognition as an integral part of German musical life. Since 2011, researched the international Bureau for Global Music alba CULTURE behalf of Landesmusikrat NRW in conjunction with the German Music Information Centre MIZ the scene Global music in Germany and is responsible for the database being published. Information obtained by extensive research and regularly updated.