Q&A with Putumayo World Music Founder and CEO, Dan Storper

Dan Storper, Founder and CEO, talks of his thoughts and hopes for how Putumayo World Music CDs affect the lives of listeners.
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Upon returning from a great vacation, ever wish you could beam yourself back, even just for a few moments? Putumayo World Music (www.Putumayo.com) creates albums of international music with the idea that listening to the rhythms of reggae will take you back to that beach you loved in the Caribbean, that café you fell in love with in Italy. An array of carefully crafted compilations from all over the world will inspire you to travel, to be creative, or just to relax.

Dan Storper, CEO and founder of Putumayo, has put his heart and soul into this organization since founding it in 1975, and continues to have an active role in the process of choosing musicians and songs for each CD. Storper pauses to talk with The Away Network's ERIKA LLOYD about Putumayo's mission and music.

Away: Have music and travel always been a large part of your life?
Storper: When I was nine, I started reading Dr. Doolittle books and began to imagine a life of travel to exotic foreign countries. Like most kids, music was a big part of growing up and, in the 1960s, radio was pretty eclectic with hits by artists such as Sergio Mendes and Herb Alpert, whose music I loved.

Do you feel as though you relate more to music from certain areas of the world?
I tend to gravitate to African, Brazilian, and New Orleanian music but really love scores of artists and music from other regions. Cuba, Cape Verde, and France, among other countries, have very rich musical cultures.

How are music and culture intertwined?
Music may be the art form that most closely intertwines with the culture of a region, as music and dance are often based on the traditions of a region, tribe, or community. Over the years, outside forces tend to influence music. And, although world music doesn't get much airplay in the U.S., many other parts of the world play music from outside their homelands.

How has the Internet boom affected Putumayo, in regards to receiving more attention worldwide, and has it affected the obscure local artists that you use?
Promotion through the Internet is very important. Our website (www.putumayo.com) has been an important way for us to communicate with fans and prospective fans. Many artists on our CDs have experienced a significant positive impact on their sales, downloads, and touring potential after being included. We don't offer downloads, but people can discover a world of music by listening to tracks through our website and discovering the artists on our CDs.

What is the relationship between music selections and tourism trends?
It's hard to say. While the millions who go to the Caribbean don't necessarily follow up with buying lots of reggae or other Caribbean music, it's clear that music's association with good times causes people to connect it with their enjoyment. We hope that people recognize that they can keep the good feelings going after returning from their trips by listening to the right music. Putumayo's themed CDs can also get people into the mood to travel to a new place and to give them a sense of that place.

Published: 13 Oct 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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