world music

Portugal to Host Worldwide Music Expo WOMEX 2021

Porto in Portugal to play host to Worldwide Music Expo WOMEX 2021. Music Press Asia

WOMEX – Worldwide Music Expo – is the most international music meeting in the world and the biggest conference of the global music scene.

From the 27th to the 31st of October, the expo debuts its first Portuguese edition in Porto, Portugal. Along with the trade fair to be held at Alfândegam, WOMEX also features talks, films and showcase concerts throughout the city.

WOMEX is in its 27th edition this year. Attended by thousands of music professionals annually, last year’s edition took a digital format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who’s Going?

Porto’s WOMEX is expected to host more than 260 artists from all over the world, 520 record labels and distributors, 400 governmental and educational institutions, 800 agents, over 610 managers and 300 producers.

Spanning over 5 days, the event will take over 7 stages, joined by around 700 exhibiting companies, 100+ speakers, films, an opening concert and an award ceremony. Additionally, nearly 1250 companies from more than 50 countries will also be expected to participate.

Exhibitors from Asia: Indonesian Music Expo (IMEX), LOKASWARA, Soundpuzzle (Seoul Music Week)

Who’s Performing?

WOMEX is not only the number one networking platform for the world music industry, but also the most diverse music meeting worldwide. Its musical spectrum in the international showcase festival scene range from the most traditional to the new global-local underground – embracing folk, roots, local and diaspora cultures and urban and electronic sounds from all over the globe.

The confirmed artists for WOMEX 2021 Opening Concert Porto ReFolk Express are: Galandum Galundaina (Portugal) performing with Pauliteiros de Miranda (Portugal); Retimbrar (Portugal) performing with special guest Uxía (from the Galician region in neighboring Spain); Seiva (Portugal); and Sopa de Pedra (Portugal).

Others are Miroca Paris (Cape Verde/Portugal), Lova Lova (DRC/France), Ebo Krdum (Sudan/Sweden), Bandé-Gamboa (Guinea Bissau/Cape Verde/Portugal), Bab L’ Bluz (Morocco/France), Al Bilali Soudan (Mali), Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy (Ghana) and Asna (Ivory Coast/Senegal/France).


The WOMEX conference section will address the global music industry’s most pressing issues: “African Music to the World,” “An Alternative Digital Future,” “Artists As Terrorists?” “Current State of Green Touring,” “Designing Sustainability in Arts Funding/Financing,” “Diversity in the Backstage Area,” “Festival Networking Session,” “Insights into the Russian Music Market,” “Language, Music, and Censorship,” “Speak My Sister,” “The Continued Apartheid of International Music,” and “Working for the Importance of Europe’s Traditional Arts.”

Artistic Freedom Initiative’s co-executive director Ashley Tucker (US) will offer one-on-one legal consultations for persecuted or censored artists while PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection project director Julie Trébault (France/US) will lead a panel titled Language, Music and Censorship.

Recommended conference program:

Music Cities Network – Improving cities music ecosystems [28 Oct]
Led by Lena Ingwersen, project manager, Music Cities Network

Music Film Festival Network Overview [29 Oct]
Led by Juanita Apraez Murillo, co-founder, Seeyousound International Music Film Festival

Harnessing Culture For Sustainable Development [29 Oct]
Led by Alejandro Guma, UNESCO Transcultura Programme Officer
with Annica Floren, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission (EU)

Recommended Listening: Electric Jalaba are seekers after the source vibrations born in the ancient culture of spontaneous creation, drawing from the deep well of Moroccan Gnawa music and aligning its hypnotic, healing pulse with shapes of psychedelia, echoes of Jamaican dub, the cyclical trance of electronic music and the transformations of jazz. The London-based sextet is led by Moroccan-born singer and guimbri player Simo Lagnawi and producer/bassist Olly Keen.

Recommended Listening: Apichat Pakwan is a Thai-Dutch DJ dup and Animist Records label curator. Their unique ‘outernational’ mix of electronics, Thai funk, molam and tropical bass music has animated festivals across Southeast Asia and Europe.


The WOMEX film programme will present over 20 curated selection of “documentaries that portray music, movements and histories from around the world, including films about African music such as The Rumba Kings, Traces Eritaj, Sing My Sister – A Film Trilogy, and Rumba Rules, New Genealogies.”

Ben Mandelson, musician, record producer and founding director of WOMEX said: “The WOMEX community is a nutrient gene pool of cultural and musical diversity – we all need that! Diversity is not a niche…Our first WOMEX edition was in 1994 – now we have artists and delegates participating who weren’t even born in 1994 – and they bring new perspectives and understanding into the mix.”

“We started on the edge of the WWW world, now we have the virtual and online as part of the everyday environment for many (the life environment, as well as the communications and creative arts and environment) – nevertheless, a chance to meet in person, and to have a shared, unique, performance experience is timeless; the COVID experience has shown us what is so easily lost.”

Delegate registration is ongoing here.

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