Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Brazilian acts learning to DIY or call it a day

Think of Brazil and music comes to mind almost as quickly as football. Samba and bossa-nova may be the marquee sounds that dominate the landscape, but Brazil’s musical smarts are as wide and deep as the country itself. Of course, …

Fri, Aug 22, 2008, 04:08


Think of Brazil and music comes to mind almost as quickly as football. Samba and bossa-nova may be the marquee sounds that dominate the landscape, but Brazil’s musical smarts are as wide and deep as the country itself.

Of course, that soundtrack changes and morphs from state to state. The gaucho sounds which linger over the border from Argentina and Uruguay and are heard throughout Rio Grande do Sol, for instance, have completely disappeared by the time you reach Minas Gerais. There, more lyrical, melancholic sounds feature in the musical conversations.

Add in those bands who operate in the broad rock, pop and electronic area, many of whom are influenced in one way or another by their location, and you have a tremendous musical melting pot to consider.

Yet these musicians still have to engage with the music business, regardless of the style of music they’re parading. And when they do so, Brazilian musicians experience the same issues and problems – the demise of the record industry, the rise of the live sector – as their peers worldwide.

For the last week, this writer has been part of an international music industry trade group touring the country giving workshops and seminars to music producers and industry professionals. The group’s expertise covers such areas as media, music supervision, branding, live promotion, record labels, artist services, marketing and music conventions.

This Comprador & Imagem tour, which visits Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Belém, is organised by the Brazilian music export group, Brasil Music & Artes. The main aim of the project is to allow Brazilian acts to obtain information about how getting their music promoted abroad and make contacts.

While some acts are content to make a decent living at home, many know they will have to look overseas to grow revenue and sales. The foreign success of Brazilian acts CSS and Bonde Do Role means that the seminars analysed how these acts have capitalised on touring, having songs placed in adverts and creating an online buzz.

Ironically, both bands are probably still better known outside Brazil than they are at home.

What clearly comes across at all the seminars is that Music Business 2.0 is about the act taking the initiative and doing the work – work that once would have been delegated to a label or third party. Acts not prepared to do such heavy lifting and use readily available promotional and marketing tools, such as MySpace, to plug their wares would be better off finding another career.

For the visitors, the tour is an opportunity to check out regional scenes and hear acts who are sometimes rarely heard outside their home states.

The music on show is quite mind-boggling in terms of diversity. One of the very first acts seen was accordion player Gilberto Monteiro, the swashbuckling and dramatic Porto Alegre musician making that instrument sound like it has never done before.

Others who’ve made an impression include post-rock duo Músicas Intermináveis para Viagem; teenage metal band Pleiades (who made the Top 10 of BBC World Service’s Next Big Thing competition); clown-rockers Bandinha Di Da Do; Belo Horizonte’s Erika Machado with her soulful, slo-mo songs (video below); and veteran jazz guitarist Toninho Horta.

Another old-school figure in action at the BH showcases was Marku Ribas. The samba-soul singer has collaborated and played with everyone from Milton Nascimento to The Rolling Stones. With a killer band behind him, Ribas is still very much in the game. A lesson there for all the new kids on the samba block.

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