This world music profile is about an Irishman who fell in love with Brazil and is actively involved in the promotion of Brazilian music abroad. David McLoughlin manages BM&A. He has been working in the Brazilian music industry for the past 15 years and is actively promoting and selling the country’s music worldwide, as well as locally. He currently runs RN-14, represents digital distributor The Orchard, and has previously worked for Atração, Eldorado, MCD, Sum Records and Trama.
What is the purpose of BM&A, the organization you represent?
We were established in July 2001 with the objective of encouraging and organizing the promotion of Brazilian music abroad, working with artists, record companies, distributors, exporters, collection societies and cultural entities.
We work on behalf of the whole sector, including organizing seminars and workshops nationwide, carrying out international market studies and trade fairs, and promotion (media, promotional material, the site www.bmatools.com, international showcases, and partnerships with foreign institutions, etc). Our objective to help music producers generate money.
Who is behind the organization?
We’re supported by Apex (the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency). We also do projects with the Ministry of Culture, Itau Cultural, Sesc (a network of cultural centers) and the local Sebraes (which support small local businesses). We’ve a network of partners nationwide and abroad. Our principal partners are the artists, producers and labels that phone me everyday!
Why is there such a need for such an organization?
With a few notable exceptions, the current wave of Brazilian music is not very well known abroad for a variety of reasons, the principal one being money. With the small budget we have available we’re trying to do miracles. We’re beginning to see an interesting development here. In the 80s and 90s, in general terms, musical influence came from whatever was played on radio and available in the record stores – the local MPB artists and the top international acts. Now we’ve a new generation which has access to everything via the internet.
There’s so much music being produced here. Kids in small regional towns are listening to local folk music, pop and downloading Fela Kuti, John Zorn and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and some are creating fantastic music. Also, to try and compensate for the drop in sales, the majors have started releasing their back catalogues of international music. Preciously they concentrated on Brazilian music and the top international sellers.
In recent years labels like Trama and Sum Records released titles from labels like Matador, Ryko, 4AD, Cooking Vinyl, Sub Pop, V2 and so on. So there’s never been so much music available. And there are thousands of bands and artists who have no interest or need to be involved in the structures of record companies or music publishers. They’re churning it out on the Trama Virtual site, MySpace and blogs.
There’s a lot of dross, of course, but some incredible gems. There’s also a fantastic un-released back catalogue of recordings from bands over the past twenty years who were never able to get the break, the record deal – and this is starting to appear.
So our work is two-fold. Firstly there’s the matter of organizing the independent sector, especially the artists, composers and producers who are not directly involved in the industry, explaining to them the importance of what they are doing and why they should organize and professionalize themselves. And secondly, we’re showing them that geographical isolation is not a problem; that their objective doesn’t need to be solely trying to manufacture 1000 CDs and try and find a distributor (which are very scarce!). We’re helping artist get their music in video games, in soundtracks, licensing deals, radio.
Our focus at the moment is getting Brazilian artists touring abroad. It’s a labour of love. Once we get the music out there my next goal will be to encourage the world to learn Portuguese!
You are now involved with a project known as Comprador e Imagem (Buyer and PR). What is the intention of this project?
It’s an annual event. An exchange of ideas with the objective of generating revenue and promoting the enormous variety of music being produced in the country. We invite people who represent various sectors of the music industry abroad (digital distribution, synchronization, record companies, marketing, video games, shows) and travel around the country, meeting up with local music producers, artists, associations and so on. It’s a learning experience for all of us.
Who in Brazil is participating in the present edition of Comprador e Imagen?
We selected four regions – São Paulo, Goiânia, Fortaleza and Salvador – based on the proposals they presented to host this project. The intention is to select one major city, one city with a music festival and two other regions which have organizations that work actively on behalf of the local music sector.
This year’s event was quite successful in many ways; I’m working on the next edition for 2008 and also thinking of a few blitzkrieg projects – bringing over people from European and US festivals to check out the festivals and bands here; projects focused on musical genres like jazz, or on themes like synchronization.
Next year is the 50th anniversary of bossa nova and the 100th anniversary of the Japanese coming to Brazil. So there’s lots to do; I’m looking for sponsors.
Where can World Music Central readers find out more information about Brazilian music?
- Agenda do Samba & Choro – Great site in Portuguese about samba and choro.
- All Brazilian Music – bios, reviews, etc. Hasn’t been updated in a while.
- Brazilian Music Treasure Hunt. This is a blog updated daily with links to materials in Portuguese and English.
- www.bregapop.com/home, Brega Pop – excellent source for popular music in the north and north-east of Brazil (guitarrada, brega, carimbó, etc).
- Cravo Albin Dictionary of Brazilian Popular Music – an ongoing and very detailed project.
- Discos do Brasil – Reference guide for recordings of Brazilian music
- Gafieras – good in-depth interviews with Brazilian artists.
- www.mubi.com.br, Mubi – online store for independent releases.
- Senhor F – it’s in Portuguese, lots of material on Brazilian rock and regional music.
- The Brazilian Sound
- tramavirtual.uol.com.br, Trama Virtual – 100,000 tracks, 40,000 bands.
- BM&A – our own site.
What barriers do you find when trying to export Brazilian music?
The physical distance and the costs involved are a problem, whether it be in relation to shipping product and promos or sending artists abroad. There is not enough Brazilian music available abroad and in my warped opinion, it’s the best in the world (excluding all those indie and noise bands I loved in the 80s). We’ve set up a site, www.bmatools.com, BMATools, where international clients (radio stations, journalists, etc) can download new releases.
Brazilian releases are well represented in the annual European World Music Charts but this is not reflected in critic’s polls, let alone sales. The plethora of Brazil-electro-lounge-new bossa compilations is probably doing us a disservice.
The whole story of “World Music” and how Brazilian music does or doesn’t fit into that has been a longtime pain in the neck. In the States we’re lumped in with Latin music. Much of what is produced here can’t be slotted into the categories available in stores like iTunes. So we’re working with companies like Gracenote and AllMusic Guide, creating a category for Brazil and its myriad of musical genres. Other problems are the lack of double taxation agreements with important markets like the US (where we’re taxed 30%) or the UK (22%). Also, we’ve a new generation of musicians who are accustomed to downloading everything for free – and are also offering their own works for free online. I can understand some of the reasons behind this, but it doesn’t make a great deal of long term sense, although many would disagree with me.
What led you to Brazil?
My first Brazilian wife. I met her when I worked in Tower Records Piccadilly, in the jazz dept. Them were the days! When Tower discovered I was Irish (not very difficult) they put me into the folk/country/blues dept; I was more interested in labels like Cherry Red, Factory, SubPop, and Some Bizarre rather than Shanachie or Rounder, but it was a great education.
I discovered the likes of Planxty and the Bothy Band- stuff I’d never listened to in Ireland being more interested in the Virgin Prunes and Microdisney – and then I got into all the Texan music, Townes Van Zandt, the Flatlanders, Guy Clarke, Jon Wayne, and then the world music thing was created. We started importing music from Brazil – it was when the era of lambada, Tom Zé, Sepultura. I started discovering the country’s music and hanging out with Brazilian who were always hugging and kissing each other. That’s for me, I thought.
Why did you decide to stay in Brazil?
My second Brazilian wife. And the music! There’s just so much of it. I worked for a few years at Atração. I released the first Tindersticks album and a CD by a band from Senegal – Niominka Bi. When I understood the payola system I gave up on that and stuck to working with local music for labels like MCD, Eldorado and trama.uol.com.br/portalv2/internacionalv2/index.jsp, Trama.
After Tower Records, Atração was my second university. We worked with regional music. Gaucho music from the south to boi bumba in the Amazon. An eye-opener was discovering music that only sold in its own region, unknown in the rest of the country, but selling massively. That still continues, but without the word massively. The Trama experience was also very important; that’s where I learned how money influences commercial success (or doesn’t!).
What stores in Sao Paulo are the best to buy local musical instruments?
Rua Teodoro Sampaio is a street near the city centre with about 15 stores – Hendrix World Music, Gang Music, Made in Brazil.
Which are your favorite record stores?
Sam the Record Man in Toronto, a store in Belem owned by Ná Figueiredo, Monstro Discos in Goiania. In São Paulo we have a place called the Galeria de Rock which is a shopping mall filled with small record stores, each specialized in a musical genre. But the country and jazz dept in Tower Records Piccadilly was special.
Where were you born?
Dublin, grew up in a military camp called The Curragh.
What music are you listening to lately?
I always seem to be working on some Brazilian compilation, so I’m listening to everything that arrives here as well as trawling through MySpace. Current favourites are Coletivo Rádio Cipó – a band from Belem, O Quarto das Cinzas from Fortaleza and Damn Laser Vampires from Porto Alegre, and the great Elzyo Silver.
What was your best moment?
Besides getting my bank account in order (that took about 20 years), it’s been all those rock n roll n samba moments. Eating mangoes with Tom Zé, meeting the great Itamar Assumpção, signing up a hip hop band in Carandiru prison, spending a few days with Chuck D, sitting with a Mehinaku Indian in the Amazon region and listening to music on his laptop, watching shows by new bands in bars and clubs – all the usual childish stuff that makes it all worthwhile.
What was the first big lesson you learned about the music industry?
Never make friends with a musician. It’s a cruel business. I stick to being a fan.
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