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Happy 30th to Putumayo, A Beautiful World Story

todayMay 12, 2023

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The Past, The Present, The Future
Dan Storper, Putumayo CEO
Record label founder Dan Storper says his travels helped inspire him to form Putumayo World Music.


Putumayo Celebrates

Putumayo World Music, the internationally recognized record label that showcases music and cultures of the world, is pleased to announce the start of its 30th anniversary year on April 13th. To celebrate, CEO Dan Storper will travel the country visiting radio stations, doing press interviews and co-hosting DJ/promotional events at specialty retailers. Putumayo will be greatly increasing its digital-only offerings this year, with the expansion of its recently launched Putumayo Discovery series and official streaming playlists. In July, there will be a special 30th Anniversary edition of the Putumayo World Music Hour radio show and a 30th Anniversary Best of Putumayo playlist.

Putumayo presents African YogaNew Releases

Putumayo’s newest CD compilation, African Yoga, released on March 31st, will be followed by Bossa Nova on June 30th. Putumayo Discovery, the digital-only label, is announcing a new initiative with its first full-length digital-only album, Acoustic Latino, on June 16th. The label will also release the World Party 4 EP on April 28th and Acoustic World 5 EP on May 5th, part of its ongoing series of digital-only singles and EPs. Putumayo Discovery has also begun releasing three singles each week and offers scores of playlists, including re-creations of classic Putumayo albums and seven that are updated weekly with new musical discoveries from around the world. Since first offering streaming three years ago, Putumayo is now the most followed world music label on Spotify.

In the beginning

Launched in 1993, Putumayo World Music evolved from Storper’s chain of Putumayo international handicraft and clothing stores in New York City (which were spoofed in this classic episode of Seinfeld). The remarkable response to the world, jazz, blues and folk music Storper played in his stores inspired him to start a record label (featured on CBS Sunday Morning). Over the following 30 years, Putumayo has released nearly 300 CDs, sold more than 35 million world, jazz and blues albums and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profits doing work in the countries where the music originates. Co-founder Michael Kraus helped Storper launch the label and, five years later in 1998, ethnomusicologist Jacob Edgar began working with Storper to scour the earth for exceptional music. In 2015, the company moved to New Orleans and expanded its jazz and blues repertoire.

Putumayo presents World Party 4

Thanks to its roots in specialty retailing, Putumayo pioneered the distribution of CDs to non-traditional outlets such as bookstores, museums, gift shops, health food stores, cafes, cruise ships, art galleries and chains such as Whole Foods, Pier 1 and Pottery Barn Kids (and to set the record straight, Putumayo was never sold in Starbucks!). As a result of Putumayo’s ubiquitous presence, millions of people discovered music from artists they would never have been exposed to otherwise, greatly expanding the market and appreciation of what is called “world music.”

Putumayo Global Impact

Over the years, Putumayo launched an array of initiatives that have made an impact globally. Storper introduced Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne to Malian star Habib Koite leading to longterm collaborations, connected Toure Kunda with Carlos Santana who included the band on his best-selling Supernatural album, organized the well-received Acoustic Africa and Women of Latin America tours and arranged for Habib Koite and Zimbabwean Oliver Mtukudzi to perform on Late Night with David Letterman. As Taj Mahal remarked: “No record label has done more to expose people around the world to the sounds of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond.” In October, 2022, Storper and Linda Ronstadt teamed up to release Feels Like Home: Linda Ronstadt’s Musical Odyssey (in association with her memoir) which became Putumayo’s first top 200 charting album.

The Putumayo World Music HourPutumayo presents The Best Of World Music, a one-hour musical journey around the world launched more than 20 years ago, can be heard on over 100 radio stations and on-demand. Putumayo features weekly music videos that introduce new artists and take viewers on compelling musical journeys. More than 100 videos are now available on the Putumayo website and the label’s Youtube channel.

Putumayo Educates

In recent years, the company has also branched out and now distributes multicultural children’s books to its network of retailers. This expands upon Putumayo’s long history of providing educational activity guides to teachers. In addition, Putumayo offers a selection of 50 world art & photography cards, many of which feature musical downloads, that enable people to send a piece of the globe to friends and family.

Since its founding in 1993, Putumayo’s compilations have featured a diverse array of musicians from more than 100 countries, providing a platform for diverse voices who might otherwise go unheard and fostering a spirit of unity and understanding through the universal language of music. “This 30-year journey has been a remarkable one,” said founder/CEO Dan Storper. “We’ve had the opportunity to work with so many talented artists from all over the world, and to share their stories and their music with an international audience. With so much poverty, disease, racism and war, our goal has always been to highlight the positive aspects of other cultures and lift people’s spirits. In these challenging days, it feels like our mission has never been more important.”

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Written by: Press Office