Record Labels

-Dani & Matt-


ILAM The International Library of African Music (Sub Saharan African)

In 1921, Hugh Tracey moved to present day Zimbabwe to farm tobacco with his brother. After falling in love with the music there, but discouraged by the European lack of appreciation for such music he returned to England. In 1931, however, Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughn Williams encouraged him to return and “concentrate upon discovering and recording the range and extent of African music of which there was at that time little reliable information, to ignore for the time being any attempt to score the music and rather to record as much as funds would allow.” This was the beginning of the International Library of Africa Music. Their catalogue includes all of Hugh Tracey’s field recordings, along with many other recordings from Sub Saharan Africa. While the website does provide small listening examples, they are relatively useless from a teaching perspective. Also, there are no links for purchasing the recordings online.


Penya (Kenya)

Penya is a Nairobi based label that focuses on the music of Kenya. It was set up by an NGO as collaboration between musicians and producers. They carry several contemporary Kenyan artists, including hip-hop and pop artists from the region.



Skinnyfish Music (Australian)

Skinnyfish Music based in Northern Australia is a world music label that works with indigenous Australian artists. The artists they work with present their traditional material in a contemporary format. They carry 17 different bands, and each item is available on the iTunes Music Store for download. Additionally, there are several songs on their website available to listen to.



Bembe Records (Cuba)

Bembe Records focuses on the music of Cuba, both traditional and popular. On their website, you can listen to tracks as well as purchase them. They carry several popular artists and the albums have excellent descriptions.


Caribbean Music Group (Caribbean)

Caribbean Music Group is a trio of three record labels focusing on Caribbean Music and film production. They carry several albums, and you can listen to every full track online with QuickTime or Real Player. Notably, they have a sister site that features Soca, Calypso, Raggae, Steelpan, and Chutney music at


Corason (Mexico, Cuba, Caribbean)

Corason offers several Mexican, Cuban, and Caribbean artists. You can purchase the CD’s directly from their website, however you can’t listen to or sample their tunes. In addition to individual artists, Corason offers Samplers of various artists from these regions, as well as a Cuban music sampler.


Panyard (Trinidad)

Panyard, Inc. has been one of the leading providers of Trinidadian music in the United States since 1998. They sell pans, books, sheet music and recordings. They have a large selection of Calypso and Soca music including recordings from past Panorama competitions. In addition they offer more traditional Calypso recordings by artists such as Lord Kitchener and Ray Holman as well as contemporary and fusion artists like Andy Narell. Purchases can be made directly from their website.


(David Knapp: I would recommend removing this reference to Panyard. This company has gotten themselves into a lot of trouble with dubious business practices involving their sheet music and recordings that many feel disenfranchise Trinidadian musicians. For example, they have stopped paying royalties to many Trinidadian composers. Instead, I would reference Delos Records, which has the largest library of steel band recordings. Their records can be found all over Amazon. Finally, Pan Ramajay, at, has a great collection of contemporary steel band and pan recordings.)


Claddagh Records (Traditional Irish)

Claddagh Records is one of the foremost distributors of Irish music. Established in 1959, their goal was to “preserve and promote the best of traditional Irish music and spoken word.” Their website is clear and easy to navigate. Also, users are able to purchase their recordings directly from the website complete with samples and descriptions. Furthermore, Claddagh is distributed by Atlantic easy distribution in the United States. Notable Claddagh artists include the Chieftans and Séamus Ennis.

Northside (Scandinavia/Nordic Roots)

Northside is a record label devoted to preserving and distributing Scandinavian (Nordic Roots) music. They’re based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can browse their site, listen to sound clips, and read reviews of the records they produce. The albums are available in the iTunes Music Store. Albums include Scottish Fiddle, Swedish instrumental, Shetland music, and the Swedish music group Väsen.



OSA – Oriental Star Agencies, Inc. (India/Pakistani)

OSA is one of the leading record companies in the UK. They feature Pakistani and Indian music from major artists including Ustad Ali Khan and Bally Sagoo. This is an excellent resource if you’re searching for Qawwali, Bhangra, Bollywood music, and/or Hindu religious music. With Real Player, you can listen to tracks. They also have a great selection of music DVD’s for sale.



Celestial Harmonies (Gamelan, General World music)

While Celestial Harmonies offers much more than just Indonesian music, they have a few quality recordings of gamelan music that is helpful for teaching.



Kereshmeh Records (Iranian and Persian)

Kereshmeh Records is a small record company devoted to the music of Iran and Persian music in general. Their website is easy to navigate, and allows users to purchase their collection online. Also, Kereshmeh offers information about Persian music, artists, and instruments, which is useful for teachers. One drawback is that the links to listen to their albums appear to be broken.



Sounds of America Records (Native American)

Sounds of America is a Native American owned record company that specializes in traditional and contemporary Native American music. They carry several albums of ritual music. In addition, their website contains several Native American video clips and photos. They offer .99-cent downloads from their catalog.


WorldSound Label Group (Hawaiian)

Worldsounds’ umbrella of companies include four record labels: WorldSound, OneHawaii, ChoCho Records, and WorldSound Kids. Although WorldSound carries a wide variety of music, their specialty is the music of Hawaii. They carry several contemporary artists/albums from the Hawaiian Islands. Typically, you can hear one full track per album on the site.



Sketis Music (Russia)

Sketis Music releases a combination of world music and experimental/electronic music from Russia. They have records by Tuvan, Buratian, and Yakat folk musics of Russia as well, however their main focus is on the fusion of these traditions with contemporary forms. You can listen to a track or two from each album. They also sneak in some good Balkan and Finnish artists. Their albums have excellent descriptions.



Cacao Musica (Venezuela)

Based on Caracas, this Venezuelan music label specializes in jazz, however they carry a large amount of music from Venezuela as well. Their website is currently under construction (as of 9/9/10), however at the bottom of the home page, you can view their catalog.


Urban Jungle Records (Brazil)

Urban Jungle focuses on new and popular Brazilian artists, They have an extensive website that includes both audio and video clips of the artists they represent. Their entire catlog is available through



ARC Music Productions International Limited (General World Music)

ARC is a good place to start when searching for world music. They have a broad catalogue that covers music from India, North America, China, Japan, Australia and many others. Founded in 1976, their catalogue includes “over 600 titles from over 100 countries.” Their breadth may also be a downfall, however. From a teaching perspective, while you may find many styles, you may not find the most appropriate recordings from an authenticity standpoint. On a positive note, ARC is distributed through Naxos, making their catalogue very accessible. Notable ARC artists include Hossam Ramzy and Pete Lockett.


Luaka Bop (Brazilian, Cuban, Afropean)

Luaka Bop is worth mentioning here because of their mix of different musics. In 1988 they began with a compilation album of Brazilian music. Today they have expanded to add even more Brazilian compilations, as well as some from Cuba and Indian Film Music. Perhaps more interesting is their self titled genre of Afropea (a musical mix of Africa and Europe) which can be very useful when discussing the African Diaspora. Their website is eye-catching and does provide useful information about their artists (touring videos, etc.), however the pages seem to load slowly and can be difficult to navigate.


Naxos (Classical, New Music, General World Music)

One of the foremost classical music record labels, Naxos also has a substantial collection of world, folk and popular music. Naxos’s subsidiary labels are Naxos Historical, Naxos Classical Archives, Naxos Jazz, Folk and Rock Legends and Naxos Nostalgia. The most important feature of Naxos is their online music library. Many colleges and universities have subscriptions to Naxos, giving teachers the ability to stream music live in the classroom.


Nonesuch Records (American Popular Music, American Folk, General World)

Nonesuch was founded originally as a classical label, but soon after they expanded to include genres like contemporary classical (Reich, Crumb, Carter, Rzewski, Glass Adams), musical theatre and early American (Gershwin, Morton, Bernstein, Foster.) Nonesuch’s Explorer series offers world music Senegal, Cuba, among many others. Their website is very user friendly and offers different radio stations based on genre.


Oliver Sudden Productions (General World Music)

This is a new World Music label focusing in traditional music from around the world. The label is very diverse and includes Chinese traditional music, Flamenco, music from Paraguay, Klezmer, Argentina, Haiti, Eastern Europe, and music from Vietnam.


Putumayo (General World Music)

Putumayo was established to introduce the masses to world music. They have one of the most comprehensive catalogs including albums from Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Likewise, their catalog can get very narrow, such as their Mississippi Blues album. Their “Global Themes” section also offers the ability to make interdisciplinary connections, for example, with their album “Women of the World: Acoustic”, and “Music from the Coffee Lands”.


(Smithsonian) Folkways Records (Extensive World Music, American Folk)

Folkways Records was established in 1948 to “document ‘people’s music,’ spoken word, instruction, and sounds from around the world.” In addition to offering different world musics, Folkways Records was one of the earliest proponents of American Folk music including Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. In 1987, the founder of Folkways, Moses Asch died. Soon thereafter, Folkways was purchased by the Smithsonian Institution, which promised to preserve the entire catalogue, as well as continue to add to it. Today, they have one of the most extensive catalogues of world music, but perhaps more importantly their collection is organized in an academic manner that is outstanding for teaching. Online, users can search for music by country, language, instrument, genre, year, and even cultural group. Additionally, the website offers free resources for the classroom including lesson plans and student activities sorted by location, all of which are absolutely free. Smithsonian Folkways is an essential resource for world music educators.



Sounds True (Sacred Music from Around the World)

Founded in 1985, this record company distributes sacred music by various artists around the world. This is an excellent resource for chant music, as they specify in the chants of India, Tibet, and various Hindu and Judeo-Christian cultures. They also carry African albums from Morocco, as well as monastery fusion albums that combine African rhythm with sacred Western chant.