This month’s issue •
Come Write Me Down
Minutes Of The 2nd 'World Music' Meeting at the Empress Of Russia, 13 July 1987
Present: Roger Armstrong (chair), Ben Mandelson (sec.), - GlobeStyle/ Ian A. Anderson, Lisa Warburton - Rogue Records/ Charlie Gillett - Oval Records/ Anne Hunt, Nick Gold - World Circuit Records/ Robert Urbanus - Stern's Records/ Iain Scott - Sterns & Triple Earth Records/ Joe Boyd - Hannibal Records/ Thomas Brooman - WOMAD records/ Mike Chadwick - Revolver Distribution/ Mark Stratford - New Routes Distribution/ John Martin - 11th hour management & 'Crossing the Border' fest/ Gordon Potts - Virgin Megastore, Oxford St/ Andrea Lawrence - Cooking Vinyl/ Philip Sweeney - freelance writer/ Chris Hawkins - Africa Beat magazine/ Nick Carnac - Carnacdiscque/ Jumbo VanRenen, Trevor Herman - Earthworks/ Doug Veitch, Owen, Phil - Disc 'Afrique / David Derby - Company magazine.
Apologies for absence received from: Andy Kershaw, Lucy Duran, Dave Bulmer (Celtic Records), Tony Engle (Topic Records), Scott Lund (Stern's/Triple Earth), Chris Popham (GlobeStyle/Ace).
We briefly reviewed what we had discussed during the last meeting (although there was frequent re-summing up during the meeting for those unable to attend the last meeting): Our intention to draw attention to October as 'WORLD MUSIC' month. We discussed the various practical ways open to us: NME cassette, browser card with 'WORLD MUSIC' logo and individual company's logos, press officer, special arrangements with distributors to provide 'WORLD MUSIC' record packs, and a 'WORLD MUSIC' chart to be generated on a regular basis.
We opened the meeting by discussing joint financing of the project: Obviously there will be various expenses - hire of press officer, cost of browser, NME master tape production, ad costs etc. etc. Contributions should relate to size of catalogue or number of applicable records in catalogue. By the end of the meeting all record companies involved had given Ben their figures. This gave a total of 67 records in our joint catalogues (excluding Topic - figure unavailable & Disc Afrique - apparently unwilling to join in this particular project). Charlie suggested that 'New Routes' might wish to contribute. Distributors present disagreed with this suggestion.
Press officer: This person should start asap because of the various press deadlines involved if we are seriously aiming at October. Joe suggested that 6-week period of hire was too short for this project. Jumbo suggested that each company's own press officer be working on the project too, and that our press officer could be the centre of a 'World Music' Hotline to lead back to each record company. Doug stressed the importance of reaching the many regional DJs keen to play or break this music - we all felt the importance of the radio to our music - this press person must be able to reach the DJs. It is important to remember that many record sales occur outside London! New Routes also stressed the importance of DJs to back up this campaign. It was suggested that the press officer (Ian suggested that the title should be 'Media Officer') should receive mail-out lists from everyone. (e.g. WOMAD has a list of 3500, Hannibal 8000). This mail-out idea came up later on as a suggestion from Thos that a leaflet campaign/mail-out was a very cheap and effective way of reaching people. Phil suggested that we also considered a marketing director - at the moment this is probably beyond our budget.
Various candidates were suggested: Suzanne Parkes (Thomas), Jenny Landreth (Anne), asking D. Toop (Doug), Gaylene Martin (Jumbo), Spike (Joe Boyd), Andrew Vaughn (Andrea). By the end of the meeting, the plan was to ask Grant to take on the various small long-term tasks that will continue after the October campaign (such as preparing a regular chart) and to approach Suzanne about the immediate campaign.
(Grant works for Scott Pearing who is a PR man well-connected to radio and who achieved some success with Mute/4AD. Grant also works with Charlie on his City Beats info service mailout. Suzanne was press officer for last year's WOMAD, and this year was selling the ads in the Glastonbury fest. programme. She works in Bristol, in WOMAD offices.) Charlie will contact Grant. Thomas will contact Suzanne as soon as she returns from her hols next week to check out a costing from her for this project. (Were she not on holiday, she would have attended this meeting, and is very keen to work on this).
We further discussed the Media Officer's role. Gordon asked whether the Media Officer would do shop promotion. The response was that this was the distributor's job, although good press work should create the right atmosphere for the shops to be sold into.
NME cassette: Please send in your hit picks to Roger or Ben at GlobeStyle ASAP!! Roy Carr is willing to let us get on with it, providing he has some kind of involvement. This probably means providing an almost-finalised compilation with a few alternate choices. He mentioned the 'danceablity' of the music - so perhaps we might prepare a compilation with a listening side and a dancing side. We have received material so far from Cooking Vinyl (2 unreleased tracks by the Real Sounds), Topic (just about their whole ethnic catalogue including the various Tangent recordings!), Rogue (a track each from Dembo Konte & Kausu Kuyateh and the Sidiki Diabate ensemble, both unreleased), Oval (a track from Jali Musa Jawara), Hannibal (1 each from Spain, Hungary and Bulgaria - the Bulgarian artist is due over in August). Please try to bear in mind the balance of music to be on the cassette - please provide an alternative if possible. Deadline one week! After selection, Roger will give you info about the master copies required and will co-ordinate with Adam Skeaping to prepare the production master (preparation costs to be split among us).
Iain was a little worried about the loss of press profile in the MM and Sounds because this campaign might be perceived as an NME 'baby', however, we noted the beneficial aspect of the NME producing a radio promo LP to go with the cassette which is strongly promoted by the NME itself.
Events during campaign: Charlie felt it important that there were some live gigs in this period of 'WORLD MUSIC'. John Martin briefed us on his proposals for October: a festival of 5 or 6 gigs in the Town & Country club to be called Crossing the Border ('a London festival of World Music'). He's aiming at artists such as Ali Farka Toure, Bruce Cockburn, John Hiatt, Dembo Konte plus an extra night on Oct 5 or 6 for 'World Music'. Are any of 'our' artists available? He asked us to consider taking out advertising to help support this festival.
In-shop promotion, racking, distributor's role, browser card: Andrea stressed the importance of properly briefing shops. Gordon pointed out that changes in the racking system can be initially disruptive - shops being somewhat conservative - but it's ultimately very useful and that once the change is in, it's likely to remain in. In the future, one hopes that it won't just be the case of having one browser card accepted, but of having a whole section marked 'WORLD MUSIC'. Mark mentioned acceptance of browsers here and in USA. Roger mentioned success of 'Kent' browser: it's now being used as a category for various labels! Gordon pointed out the importance of convincing head offices of the chains of the 'kudos' achievable by helping 'WORLD MUSIC' month and beyond. Chains must receive info in a co-ordinated way. The campaign will be ineffectual is fragmented. Each company listed its distributors: using Sterns and New Routes will practically cover all of our labels. Could New Routes and Sterns work together to approach the chain stores to sell the notion of our campaign? (Ian suggested that if the 'notion' could be sold to the head offices by New Routes/Sterns, then individual shops could buy from their own distributor if necessary). A positive answer was received from the representatives present. We discussed the overlap of distribution for some labels: which actual distributor would distribute what? This special 'WORLD MUSIC' pack will be available from all our distributors, but varying in actual makeup of records. Each distributor will receive a number of browser cards. Again we noticed that we needed to operate a two-tiered system: the chains and the indie shops. Scott Lund had a suggestion that we provide a check list for each shop to make own choice (possible problems with SOR?) and how to order them. (As Scott was unable to attend, I've attached his written suggestions as the end of the minutes - Ben).
Browser card: Plastic will have a longer rack life (I'm enclosing Chris Popham's costings for 750 cards & poster costing - Ben). We need to find out delivery time for these! The top will bear a 'WORLD MUSIC' lettering design solicited from our artists (please send in your sketches to GlobeStyle ASAP and we'll send out photocopies of all for a postal ballot. Winner gets the job), and below this all of the various record company logos. Gordon suggests a listing of all of the distributors on the card, also a listing of all the records in the campaign (more about that later). Even if the chains don't take our browsers, it should stimulate them to create their own.
We discussed other, similar across-label campaigns: 'New Country' and 'Chain without-a-name'. The 'New Country' campaign concentrated on a specific 10 records. Charlie suggested several times that we pick particular records for the campaign: this would be the best representative guide for journalists and radio people - however, the NME promo record deriving from their cassette should fill that function. Joe proposed putting together a list of the 10 all-time WORLD MUSIC titles to be able to point out that 'these are WORLD MUSIC' for those who hadn't realised that they had been listening to 'WORLD MUSIC' already. Iain said that it was useless to promote records that distributors couldn't supply.
Adverts: we considered that ads in the consumer press were the least cost effective given our budget, however, if individual companies were taking out ads, they would mention the campaign. We could do a Music Week joint ad together, or ads with a joint heading. Again, Thomas mentioned the effectiveness of a leaflet/mailout, especially if we could pool our lists, or if we were doing mailouts, we would include a 'WORLD MUSIC' leaflet. Some people suggested that we were preaching to the converted, but the general response was favourable.
Charts: Sterns are still preparing a list of 50 selected shops - other distributors to help with this? Jumbo mentioned the fact that stores such as Virgin could not be included in the poll (Virgin is not even a Gallup chart return shop because of hardware failure!). Charlie would approach Grant to see if he would take on the actual list-making after we have our 'chart shops'. Ian will explain to Grant the mechanics of chart-making. We all felt the importance of having a regular chart: this also generates retail confidence. Andy Kershaw would be happy to support the chart on his show.
That seems to be about it... I hope that I haven't missed out too much - there was quite a bit of backtracking and discussing points from the previous meeting.
Thanks to all for coming!
We further agreed to meet again - same place, same time, 2 weeks hence, Monday 27th July 1987. Please phone in confirmation (the room has already been booked).
DON'T FORGET YOUR NME CASSETTE SELECTIONS! YOUR LOGO SKETCHES!
Notes from Scott Lund (Sterns)
1. Campaign heading: rather than just 'World Music', something like 'World Music - a meeting point' (subtitled UK labels looking to the World - or something like that). This terminology leaves it open for another part of the campaign in 6/9 months time or whatever. Also precludes any idea of any exclusive domain.
2. Browser card: a) alphabetical by country, b) artist / title / cat. no. / label or label logo, c) asterisk by those titles on which track featured on NME cassette.
3. I'm having a hard time getting a handle on all the permutations. Short of opening up label involvement to providing all willing distributors on consignment, maybe just a checklist to accompany browser with all titles and suppliers specified and waiving SOR except on certain quantity items.
This month’s issue •
Come Write Me Down