Migrants Worth Less? an Analysis of the Role of Migrant Musicians in the World Music Market

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:18
Oral Presentation
Glaucia PERES DA SILVA, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany
This paper addresses the role of power and inequality in the production of World Music, concerning specifically the experience of migrant musicians. Although it is a very disputed concept, World Music is considered here as a market category carried out by the trade fair WOMEX—The World Music Expo, the World Music Charts Europe and participants radio shows, the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals, and the magazines fRoots and Songlines – although the phenomenon is not restricted to these organizations. The World Music market is seen by these actors as the positive side of globalization, in which a certain inversion of power relations occurs: small firms in Western countries import music from the world in order to make them known in the West, working ethically as an ethnomusicologist and, in this way, bridging cultures and fighting racism. Despite their achievements, the establishment of this market in the last thirty years reveals the emergence of new forms of inequality. Specifically, migrant musicians have less opportunities in this market than musicians travelling directly from their home countries, although they have the same nationality or are identified with the same musical tradition. For example, data on WOMEX showcases (1994-2011) reveal that 25,5% of participant musicians are migrants and, among them, only 6,6% play in mixed bands with musicians from the country where they current live. All other musicians do not have migration background or do not mention this information in their biographies. This paper aims to offer an accurate view on the participation of migrant musicians in this transnational market until today, discussing the reasons for this kind of discrimination: perception of authenticity in this market, position of migrants in the country where they are current living, and access to funds to finance their musical projects.