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World Music Conference WOMEX 2009, a Success Despite the Bad Economy

womex-300The year 2009 turned out to be a record year and a successful event for WOMEX 2009. There have now been 15 editions of WOMEX, the World Music Expo, that began with about 200 delegates and has now expanded to over 2700. During that time, this fledgling movement has expanded to become a diverse, multicultural, increasingly popular expression of interest in world culture. And, in the process, WOMEX has become the premier professional event in the international world music calendar.

With the recorded music industry crisis surpassed by the overall world economic crisis, WOMEX organizers were indeed surprised to see its WOMEX 09 numbers:

There were over 2700 delegates and 650 exhibiting companies from 92 countries in 280 Trade Fair Stand Units. And WOMEX presented 57 acts including 340 artists on 6 stages and 23 Conference Sessions, having inaugurated a new structure. Each Conference day highlighted a different key issue: Digital Myths, Markets and Mayhem; The Economy of Music; and Advocating for Change each presented special sessions designed to update, innovate or stimulate.

2009 brought a new city and a new partnership. Many of the city’s key cultural players banded together to make the invitation, and then created WorldMusicFair Copenhagen (WMF CPH) to become the local production partner. First and foremost Roskilde Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and Wonderful Copenhagen. The other principal members comprise the Danish Center for Culture and Development (CKU/DCCD), Global Copenhagen and World Music Denmark in cooperation with Welcome Meeting Management.

In honor of the new city location, WOMEX hosted a special Opening and added a new stage this year. An all-star Nordic band took to the stage
with artists from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Samiland. Danish fiddler Harald Haugaard created and directed this once-in-a-lifetime concert experience. The stage, called the Nordic Club, highlighted talent from all the Nordic countries and edged our Showcase numbers up to almost 60. These concerts were held in DR-Danish Broadcasting’s new studios and concert halls, offering some of the best conditions ever at a WOMEX.

This year’s WOMEX Artist Award for World Music went to DR Congo’s Staff Benda Bilili. The WOMEX Award for Professional Excellence was given to Christian Mousset from France.

"So often, by the time many groups play their first note on a European stage, they have already lived, struggled and suffered a tale of epic proportions," says British manager and writer Andy Morgan. "And no group could possibly illustrate this truism more effectively than Staff Benda Bilili."

"For almost 35 years Christian Mousset and his ‘Musiques Métisses’ Festival has kicked off the careers of greats such as Cesaria Evora, Salif Keita, the Mahotella Queens, the Super Rail Band, Danyel Waro, Johnny Clegg, and many others," says Yorrick Benoist of Run Productions. "His was arguably the first festival dedicated primarily to African music, starting a trend that many followed and few could match."

Each year, in partnership with the World Music Charts Europe, WOMEX also awards a Top Label, based upon the releases of that label which the Charts DJs have voted highest during the previous 12 months. This year’s winner is Crammed Discs from Belgium.

And, finally, WOMEX hosted the presentation of a new award this year, one created by one of our partners, the Roskilde Foundation. Presented during the Sunday Award ceremony by the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Ritt Bjerregaard, Roskilde honored Malian artist Rokia Traore and her newly inaugurated Foundation Passarelle. The prize included 30,000 euros.

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