Belinda O’Hooley explains how GMM 2020 works

Global Music Match – a world-first collaboration founded in 2020 by Sounds Australia, Showcase Scotland Expo and Canada’s East Coast Music Association (ECMA) – has been honoured with the 2021 WOMEX Professional Excellence Award.

Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through social media and peer-to-peer collaboration, Global Music Match has advanced opportunities and networks internationally, and encouraged cross border artist collaboration, by connecting hundreds of musicians from around the world, creating new audiences in a range of international markets whilst international travel has been curtailed, providing a groundwork for future international touring development.

In its inaugural year, 96 artists from 14 countries participated, culminating in the live extravaganza Global Music Marathon at Folk Unlocked – the online edition of the world-leading Folk Alliance International conference. In 2021, artists from even more countries joined in Global Music Match: 78 artists from 17 countries are currently collaborating across multiple time-zones, languages and continents, coached by a number of leading folk/world/roots festival directors. 

Musician and singers from Australia, Brittany, Canada, Catalonia, Chile, Denmark, England, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Taiwan, USA and Wales have been working together over the past three months, expertly guided throughout the project by influential figureheads from Cambridge Folk Festival (England), Gooikorts International Folk Festival (Belgium), Killer Inc. (Norway), Knockengorroch Festival (Scotland), Manchester Folk Festival (England), Montelago Celtic Festival (Italy), New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (USA), Philadelphia Folk Festival (USA), Port Fairy Folk Festival (Australia), AmericanaFest UK (England), Vancouver Island Music Fest (Canada), Westport Music & Arts Festival (Ireland), Woodford Folk Festival (Australia) and World Music Festival (Chile) – resulting in countless hours of exciting collaborations.

Search #globalmusicmatch on social media to see all the amazing works created over both years of the groundbreaking initiative.

Reflecting upon the award, WOMEX said:

“The past year-and-a-half has been one of the most drastic and challenging periods of change in the history of the international music industry. Almost at once, and with very little warning, a world’s worth of live music disappeared, and musicians and audiences alike scrambled to find new ways of reaching each other without leaving their homes.

“But adversity leads to innovation, and that’s where Global Music Match comes in. The heart of the premise is simple: folk- and roots-based musicians uplifting and promoting each other, mobilising each other’s audiences and creating new professional networks.

“Each cycle of GMM takes place over 12 weeks. Teams are formed of six artists, each from a different country or region, and each gets their own two-week spotlight across the whole team’s social media channels, as well as a dedicated mentoring ‘coach’. These spotlights are a flurry of activity including interviews, live sets, unreleased material and exclusive – entirely digital – collaborations. After two editions, 172 artists – and many thousands of fans – have participated and benefitted from this mutual support network and inspirational knowledge exchange with the help of music export offices from 17 countries and regions from around the world.

“The exciting part of GMM is that it is not just a temporary quick-fix. It’s a new form of music export and cultural exchange, and one that is not necessarily anchored to the current situation. It is a real and effective way for artists to expand their audience in terms of numbers, as well as into new territories, opening up the possibility for new touring avenues post-pandemic, and showing a ‘good practice’ model for all.

“For creating, at such short notice, a new and innovative platform that has already seen long-lasting and tangible benefits, for celebrating musical diversity, and for being a source of optimism and comfort to musicians in a time of great struggle, we are delighted that Global Music Match will receive the WOMEX 21 Professional Excellence.”

English Folk Expo’s Chief Executive, Tom Besford said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to have the recongition of this prestigious award. English Folk Expo has been a proud partner in Global Music Match since the very first trial event featuring only 4 artists, including O’Hooley & Tidow.

This has been a shining beacon of community, collaboration, sharing and international partnership working which has offered vital connectivity in a world left in turmoil from the pandemic.

The friendships forged, new music created, and professional networks built from this digital programme cannot be underestimated. I look forward to seeing the various legacies of this special project manifest themselves over the coming months and years and especially wish the 19 English folk artists the very best of luck in their future international ventures.”

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