BMG Acquires Buena Vista Social Club Label World Circuit Records 

Buena Vista Social Club
Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images

Buena Vista Social Club Orchestra perform on May 15, 2016 in Havana, Cuba.  

BMG has acquired leading world music label, World Circuit Records, home to Buena Vista Social Club, Ali Farka Touré and Orchestra Baobab.

The label was founded in London in the mid-1980s by Anne Hunt and Mary Farquharson, who were then running a touring business that would regularly bring African and Latin artists over to perform in the U.K. 

Recognizing that little of their music was commercially available, Hunt and Farquharson set up World Circuit Records and released its first albums, Maria Rodriguez's La Tremenda and Abdel Gadir Salim's Sounds of Sudan Volume One in 1986.

Nick Gold, a London-based African history student and avid record collector, joined the pair shortly after and built the label into one of the most respected and successful world music imprints, shining a light on artists from Cuba, Colombia, Spain, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal. 

Its biggest and best-known release is 1997's Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club, which has sold over 10 million units worldwide, including 1.9 million copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen Music, and still ranks as the biggest-selling world music album of all time.   

Other notable records in World Circuit's catalog include Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder's 1994 set Talking Timbuktu (another Grammy winner), international debuts by Orchestra Baobab and Oumou Sangare, as well as acclaimed solo records by Buena Vista members Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal, Ruben Gonzalez, Omara Portuondo and, most famously, Ibrahim Ferrer. 

Recent signings to the label -- which has long partnered with Nonesuch for U.S. distribution and marketing -- include Malian musician Fatoumata Diawara and Congolese band Mbongwana Star.

In a statement announcing the label's acquisition, Gold said BMG's "respect for artists and writers, their vision of the future and the opportunities that lay ahead make it a natural and exciting home for World Circuit."

Financial terms of the deal, which gives BMG ownership of the World Circuit catalog and publishing copyrights, were not disclosed. Plans are already underway for a number of new releases and reissues with Gold joining BMG to oversee and develop new projects.

"World Circuit has been a pioneer in recording and marketing outstanding artists and collaborations from around the world," said Peter Stack, BMG's evp of global catalogue recordings.

"We are absolutely delighted to welcome World Circuit to BMG and excited to be working with Nick Gold, one of the most inspirational figures in world music," Stack went on to say. He vowed to continue "developing the work of this amazing label."


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