Putumayo World Music was established to introduce people to the music of the world's cultures. The label grew out of Putumayo clothing company, founded by Dan Storper in 1975 and sold in 1997. Co-founder Michael Kraus joined Storper to help launch Putumayo World Music in 1993. In the past fifteen years, the label has become known primarily for its upbeat and melodic compilations of great international music characterized by the company's motto: “guaranteed to make you feel good!”
Putumayo’s CD covers feature the distinctive art of Nicola Heindl, whose colorful, folkloric style represents one of Putumayo's goals: to connect the traditional to the contemporary. By combining appealing music and visuals with creative retail marketing, Putumayo has developed a unique brand identity, a rarity in today's artist-based music industry.
Putumayo is considered a pioneer and leader in developing the non-traditional market. A large portion of its target audience consists of "Cultural Creatives," a sociological and lifestyle term for 50 million North Americans and millions more around the world with an interest in culture, travel and the arts. To reach these consumers, Putumayo has built a proprietary network of more than 3,000 book, gift, clothing, coffee and other specialty retailers in the US and thousands more internationally that play and sell its CDs, in addition to maintaining a strong presence in record stores.
Dan Storper’s vision of establishing a global company and lifestyle brand is being furthered by CD distribution in more than 100 countries. The opening of Putumayo Europe, in Hilversum, Holland in 2000 enabled the company to connect with the European music and retail scene. As of March 2008, the Putumayo Europe office was re-located to Weesp, Holland, near Amsterdam. The expansion of Putumayo International has also extended the label’s presence in South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. The company now has offices in 15 countries around the world.
The Putumayo Kids division was created to introduce children to other cultures through fun, upbeat world music. Since the release of the best-selling World Playground CD in 1999, Putumayo Kids has established itself as one of the leading children’s record labels in the world, winning critical acclaim and honors from Parents’ Choice Awards, the National Parenting Publications Association and others. With its growing collection of albums and multicultural activity kits, Putumayo Kids provides children with upbeat, melodic and culturally authentic music, enhanced by educational liner notes.
Putumayo also launched the Putumayo World Music Hour in 2000. The first commercially-syndicated world music radio show, it is now heard internationally on more than 170 commercial and non-commercial stations.
Periodically, Putumayo presents thematic tours in conjunction with its CD releases. Acoustic Africa, a CD and successful international tour in 2006 featured Habib Koité, Vusi Mahlasela and Dobet Gnahoré. Putumayo Kids produced two thematic tours (Animal Playground and Reggae Playground) in 2006 and 2007 featuring Trinidadian artist Asheba.
The company’s commitment to helping communities in the countries where the music originates has led to the label contributing more than $1 million dollars to worthwhile non-profit organizations around the world. Charitable recipients include Coffee Kids, Oxfam, Mercy Corps, Amnesty International and many more.
In February, 2009, Putumayo published its first book, India: A Cultural Journey in conjunction with a CD entitled India. The CD features A.R. Rahman, the Oscar-winning composer of the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, and many other exceptional Indian musicians. The book combines photography, travelogue and cultural exploration. The company is also developing a children’s story book, TV show and other children’s products.
In 2006, Putumayo was pleased to introduce Cumbancha, a record label founded by Putumayo A&R consultant Jacob Edgar Cumbancha releases albums by exceptional artists, most of whom have been featured on Putumayo collections. Some of Cumbancha’s releases are by Habib Koité, Rupa and the April Fishes, Dobet Gnahoré, Ska Cubano, The Idan Raichel Project and Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective.
As international markets and consumer awareness of world music grow, Putumayo continues to develop creative ways to present exciting music from around the world that is underexposed in the mainstream media. Please continue to visit our website for more information, news and updates on Putumayo World Music, its releases and events.