Someone emailed me recently asking why I don't have any African music on Magnatune.
The problem is the all-too-common exploitation of African musicians, that I'm not willing to take part in.
I received two great African music CDs recently. These are musicians from Africa, recording in London. However, I can't accept that CD for Magnatune, because the recording is totally owned by a producer in London, who would then receive all the sales royalties, and none would go to the actual performers. This situation, where the recording company or producer owns all the rights to an album, is the norm in world music.
This exploitation issue has also been a problem for Latin music, though I received some self-produced that's amazing from Portugal on Friday, so there are hopefull signs.
Basically, I'm not willing to have Magnatune prop up the "world musician gives up all his rights to his recordings" system which mostly exists today, and that philosophy limits what I can sign (and also what gets submitted). But, like "free trade coffee" I think people expect Magnatune to do this "fairness audit" on their behalf, and trust that half the money from their purchasers really does go to the musician.
In time, I think we'll find good recordings (or record them ourselves with visiting musicians, but have them own the recording)