(bron: World Music Lab)

Interview with Arnulf den Boesterd of Xango Music (Benelux distributor of LPs and CDs) by Eric van Monckhoven for http://worldmusiclab.it.

Years ago, I made the acquaintance of Arnulf Den Boesterd, owner of Xango Music, which distributes world music and other artists in the Benelux. We have always kept in touch and see each other regularly at events such as Womex or Babel Music. In this interview, Arnulf tells us about his commitment to good music.

What is Xango Music?

Xango Music, Benelux distributor of local music from all over the world
I, Arnulf den Boesterd, founded Xango Music in 1997 as a hobby that got out of hand. My love for music has made me decide to turn my hobby into my work. Besides enjoying culture, travelling, good food and drinks, I’m fulltime busy in the music business, trying to make the unavailable available! Xango Music is now distributing Vinyl, CD’s and DVD’s in the Benelux countries and runs an internet shop worldwide, to give all those great artists a platform. There is so much beautiful music out there, that needs to be heard!

Xango Music operates in the Benelux because it is a compact territory, of which I know very well how it works in the music business and very specifically the retail trade, and I know the press and radio very well.
In the beginning I always said that I’m working with world music. I’ve moved away from that, because the term world music does not properly describe the music that Xango Music distributes. The distribution catalogue includes popular music, as well as jazz, traditional, classical etcétera, that is why I prefer to describe it like ‘local music from all over the world’.

Who is Xango?

Xango is a god, an Orisha: he originates from the religion of the Westafrican Yoruba people. When the Yoruba were taken across the ocean to the Caribbean and Brazil, Xango accompanied them. You’ll meet him in cuban santeria and brazilian candomble. He symbolises thunder and lightning. Xango is very flamboyant and a great warrior, lover, drummer and dancer. He represents music in many ways… I decided to celebrate the richness of the world’s music by using Xango’s name (pronounced: “shan-gó”).

Where is Xango Music based?

The Xango Music office is located in Utrecht (Netherlands), and the distribution warehouse is in Alkmaar (Netherlands) where a team of people is providing stores in the Benelux countries with all the amazing music collected for distribution.

When did it all started? How it evolved over the years and what’s the best accomplishment?

I started Xango Music in 1997 as a store in the old center of Utrecht. As a music lover I noticed that there is much more music available than I could buy and I knew I could do it better. So I started the store Xango Music to find out that there was also much more music out there than was being distributed. So the next step was to start distributing it myself, starting slowly and now distributing about 230 labels (big and small).

For a few years I also ran an artist management, due to lack of time I stopped with that. I didn’t want to grow into a large organization and made choices that were difficult but important. I also gave up the store. I wanted to concentrate on distribution, so that as much local music from all over the world as possible could be made available for the stores in the Benelux.

Not that working in a music store isn’t fun, I still sense that I miss talking to music lovers about music. I also miss having contact with musicians and all the other people working in the live music scene while touring.

What are the challenges and how do you deal with them?

One of the big challenges for a distributor is dealing with wholesalers of CDs and LPs. These are generally companies that only care about the money, they don’t really care about the music and/or musicians. The only thing they care about is reselling CDs and LPs as cheap as possible anywhere in the world. They do not necessarily buy from distributors in their own territory, but try to circumvent distributors’ exclusive distribution rights by buying their supplies from abroad. They don’t do any promotion and rely on the publicity that distributors make.

The challenge for Xango Music is to keep an eye on these wholesalers (and other ‘cowboys’, as I like to call them) and be ahead of them, so that they can’t devour their prey at the expense of the distributor’s work and ultimately at the expense of the musicians.
My ideal approach is to form a team together with the musicians and/or the labels and artist agents to generate as much publicity and sales as possible, and prevent wholesalers from circumventing distributors.

Does covid-19 have an impact on your activities?

Of course, this pandemic has an effect on my work. In the Netherlands is at this moment a sort of partial lockdown, there are almost no bands touring, the hospitality industry is closed or winged down. All of this means that as a distributor I’m the only ones who takes care of publicity for new releases of musicians.
All in all, this obviously has a negative impact on turnovers, although it has not dropped as much as I feared at the beginning of the pandemic. I think one of the main reasons for this is that most of the labels and artists Xango Music distributes have continued with their planned releases. So there hasn’t been a big vacuum in releasing new albums as well.
An advantage of this period of time is that there is finally time to think about and develop a new website for Xango Music. The developers, designers and technicians, are already in an advanced stage right now. I am very curious what it will all look like in the end.

Why Italian artists, labels, etc. should be interested by your activities? What’s your best offer for them?

How Xango Music works is not only interesting for Italian artists and labels, it actually applies to everyone, wherever they come from.

A few words about how Xango Music works:
Xango Music only distributes, in the Benelux territory, complete label catalogues or individually independent releases by artists.
Xango Music has very good contacts to the press, both the physical newspapers / music magazines and the online music magazines in the Benelux. I’m very active in representing and promoting new releases and would like to receive promotional material on new releases. Therefore I ask for as many free copies of new items as one can spare, or a digital link, to send out to press and radio programmers. The more free promo copies we get, the more promotion I can do.
Xango Music has a two weekly distribution newsletter, with an average of about 15 album releases, and manages to get hundreds and hundreds of reviews and several hours of airplay.

Xango Music works on a consignment basis, meaning:
– Ordering stock with the record label, which the label sends to our warehouse.
– The CDs and LPs must have a bar code and must be sealed.
– Xango Music sends quarterly sales statements, for which amount the label sends us an invoice.
– The invoice is paid within 30 days.
Xango Music sells to many different kind of shops: big chain stores, small chain stores, independent stores, wholesalers, and internet shops. Working closely together with two other distributors (distributing different music but located in the same warehouse), which makes invoicing and sending orders to customers efficient and quick.
As a distributor, Xango Music has a total of approximately 90 customers who order on a regular basis. Some customers buy centrally for multiple shops.

The following Italian labels are already been distributed by Xango Music: Agualoca Records, Alfa Music (via Egea), Da Vinci Jazz (via Egea), Materiali Sonori, RadiciMusic Records, Visage Music, StudioSoundLab, Squi Libri, and Zero Nove Nove.

By distributing these Italian labels by Xango Music, I have gained a good insight into how the music they release can best be promoted and sold in the Benelux. Of course, I can also apply this knowledge to any new Italian labels looking for distribution. Looking forward getting to know them! Check www.xangomusic.com for more information and updates about Xango Music.

Here you can read the original Italian version.