A recent news article about how music venues have found success in including Latin music got me thinking about the importance of recognizing and promoting a variety of cultures through music. Music offers teens a forum for cultural exchange that they can feel on a fun and visceral level, whether it’s by Jay Z appearing in a Panjabi MC song
or Beyonce trading lyrics with Shakira.
Before building or strenghening your collections, take a look at City-Data.com to ensure that you’re reflecting the languages and heritage of the teens you serve. Beyond that, collecting from around the world (and from other languages within the United States) is simply smart collecting period. As more and more teens turn to the Internet as a place to download the music they already know they want, it’s important for libraries to position their music collections as places where music discovery can still happen. And because English-language American music has so much cultural hegemony, this might be a place where teens can appreciate having somebody sift the Paris Hiltons and Li’l Waynes to find artists like MC Zoog (Lebanon), Dir En Gray (Japan), or Julieta Venegas (Mexico).
MTV offers a number of international channels that often profile the most popular local music, though mileage may vary with each station. However, you’re guaranteed and interesting smattering of international tastes through the MTV World Chart Express, which culls a number of the most popular artists from across the globe. You might also do well to browse the Amazon.com international music section, which skews more toward adult contemporary but will occasionally produce a gem. You can also take advantage of the international character of Myspace by searching their music search page and sorting a number of different countries by popularity. Finally, your Billboard magazine subscription will connect you with a number of charts from across the world. (Don’t forget to satisfy your anime-crazy teens with a number of JPop and JRock artists!)