MP3 Scavengers Know No Borders

A host of world music blogs to expand your playlist

  • MP3 Scavengers

    image courtesy of Frank Gossner

  • MP3 Scavengers

Meet the new breed of world music experts.

John Beadle, by day a machinist at Harley-Davidson, posts streaming MP3s of little-known African pop music on his Likembe blog (

Brian Shimkovitz traveled through Ghana on a Fulbright scholarship, exploring the country’s obscure music and sharing his finds in a distinctly nonacademic style at Awesome Tapes from Africa (

Stuart Ellis, a punk rocker turned world music freak, posts a weekly single on Radiodiffusion Internasionaal (, where the playlist has ranged from the North Korean orchestral number “We Always Look Up to the Central Committee of the Party” to the fuzz-toned garage-soul raver “Morning Train” by ’60s Israeli band Uzi and the Styles.

It’s an amazing time for music listeners with adventurous ears, as MP3 bloggers ferret out music previously available only to crate-digging record collectors and their close friends. A new breed of digital-savvy amateur ethnomusicologist is scouring the planet for weird, wonderful, and forgotten records, and then posting them for all the world to hear on streaming websites.

“In a relatively short time, the blogger has absorbed an array of occupational functions, from journalist to novelist to diarist to teacher,” music writer Ross Simonini notes in the Village Voice  (Aug. 20, 2008). “The recent spate of international music blogs has introduced the roles of ethno­musicologist and archaeologist.”

Stephen Cope
7/12/2009 8:39:08 PM

Interesting article. I'll add the following: Th is the podcast version of my now defunct radio program "Conference of the Birds," wich aired for many years in the 90s on public radio in Santa Cruz and San Diego. The podcast features music from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, the middle-east and places between and beyond, with an emphasis on cross-cultural experimentation and exploration. All free. Not for profit. Thanks for the article!

The Scoop
4/26/2009 10:41:16 AM

Great to see this covered, but you missed one of the best and most prominent global music blogs, SoundRoots -- They post original reviews along with weekly (at least) mp3 offerings from new releases, and sometimes obscure and older music. I've learned a lot about global music from this and other blogs. Just last week they wrote about a fascinating blend of Maori traditional chanting and hip-hop from Moana and the Moahunters. Definitely another blog to check out. The link:

Nick Storring
4/24/2009 12:02:04 PM

Hello there! Stuart Ellis pointed me to this article. Thanks very much for citing my article! I'm happy to see this subject coming into the foreground through the right sort of lens. Apart from writing for Musicworks, I also curate a little blog, End(-)of(-)World Music myself. I'm not quite as dig-happy as Stuart and the bunch! No digitized 78RPMs here.. but merely by rummaging around in the web you can dig up things that are still not that well-represented. Here's the link: Thanks! :-)

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