Global Music Match – a world-first collaboration founded in 2020 by Sounds Australia, Showcase Scotland Expo and Canada’s East Coast Music Association (ECMA) – has been honoured with this year’s WOMEX Professional Excellence Award.

Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through social media and peer-to-peer collaboration,Global Music Match has advanced opportunities and networks internationally, and encouraged cross border artist collaboration, by connecting musicians from around the world, creating new audiences in a range of international locations, providing a groundwork for future international touring development.

In its inaugural year, 96 artists from 14 countries participated, including 12 artists from Australia, culminating in the live extravaganza Global Music Marathon at this year’s virtual Folk Unlocked conference. In 2021, artists from even more countries joined in Global Music Match: 78 artists from 17 countries are currently collaborating – including 13 from Australia. Search #globalmusicmatch on social media to see all the amazing works being created.

In total, 25 Australian acts have participated in Global Music Match: Andrea Kirwin, Charm of Finches, Colin Lillie, Emma Swift, Ernest Aines, Fanny Lumsden, Francesca de Valence, Georgia State Line, Gretta Ziller, Hussy Hicks, Joel Havea, Kaurna Cronin, Little Quirks, Melanie Horsnell, Monique Clare, Musketeer, Rich Davies, Riley Pearce, Ruth Hazleton, Saije, Shelley Segal, STAV., The Heart Collectors, Tom West and William Crighton.

Here’s what WOMEX had to say about the award:

The past year-and-a-half has been one of the most drastic and challenging periods of change in the history of the international music industry. Almost at once, and with very little warning, a world’s worth of live music disappeared, and musicians and audiences alike scrambled to find new ways of reaching each other without leaving their homes.

But adversity leads to innovation, and that’s where Global Music Match comes in. The heart of the premise is simple: folk- and roots-based musicians uplifting and promoting each other, mobilising each other’s audiences and creating new professional networks.

Each cycle of GMM takes place over 12 weeks. Teams are formed of six artists, each from a different country or region, and each gets their own two-week spotlight across the whole team’s social media channels, as well as a dedicated mentoring ‘coach’. These spotlights are a flurry of activity including interviews, live sets, unreleased material and exclusive – entirely digital – collaborations. After two editions, 172 artists – and many thousands of fans – have participated and benefitted from this mutual support network and inspirational knowledge exchange with the help of music export offices from 17 countries and regions from around the world.

The exciting part of GMM is that it is not just a temporary quick-fix. It’s a new form of music export and cultural exchange, and one that is not necessarily anchored to the current situation. It is a real and effective way for artists to expand their audience in terms of numbers, as well as into new territories, opening up the possibility for new touring avenues post-pandemic, and showing a ‘good practice’ model for all.

For creating, at such short notice, a new and innovative platform that has already seen long-lasting and tangible benefits, for celebrating musical diversity, and for being a source of optimism and comfort to musicians in a time of great struggle, we are delighted that Global Music Match will receive the WOMEX 21 Professional Excellence.

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