- Matthew J. Forss
During the 1970s and 80s, the term “world music” became a way for ethnomusicologists to describe all the musics of the world’s peoples. In a similar manner, record labels from the United States and other countries began looking at ways to better define, categorize, and market “cultural” music. Early on, the music was frequently referred to as “ethnic,” “tropical,” “world beat,” or “international,” among other terms. Without a simple, all-encompassing, and accurate term, record labels and music stores found difficulty organizing and categorizing these products: challenges involved improper filing of records, cassettes, and compact discs, and difficulty marketing the releases without music charts, publications, or other marketing techniques or resources. A suitable definition of the music was not officially recognized by record label executives until a consensus was reached at a 1987 meeting in Britain of international record companies, broadcasters, concert promoters, and others involved with music from around the world. The meeting resulted in coining a new term to encompass the “ethnic” music of the world as “world music.”...