5 Takeaways From BoMM: Colombia's Music Scene Is Thriving, Thanks to Women, Genre Diversity and Metal

Highlights from the Bogota Music Market.

The seventh edition of the Bogota Music Market (BoMM) took place in the Colombian capital’s Chamber of Commerce on September 10-13. Day 2, September 11, featured panels throughout the day and a total of 26 showcases, with artists selected by curators from among 2,600 applicants, a record for the conference. 

Here are five takeaways from the event. 

1. Colombia’s music business is healthy -- and growing: According to Bogota Chamber of Commerce president Monica De Greiff, last year, BoMM generated business worth approximately $2.1 million, with expectations higher for 2018. De Greif also noted 2,600 local artists had applied for consideration to be showcased at the event, a 128% increase in applicants from the previous year. 

2. Four bands rocked our world: Afrobeat ensemble La Boa and Explosión Negra, a group that blends folk beats with hip hop and rap, blew us out of the water with their big sound and tight beats. While mixing folk and urban is no longer new, these bands took the concept to another level with finely tuned performances that managed to be exhilarating, even at 10 am in the morning. Veteran Salsa Band La 33, with its blend of youth and experience, contemporary and tradition, reminded us why salsa is eternal in Colombia. And hard rockers Mad Tree highlighted diversity with musicianship.

3. Colombia’s music defies genre definition: Although the country has long been known primarily for vallenato and cumbia and pop-tropical mixes of those rhythms, there is simply no way to categorize Colombian pop anymore. At BoMM, showcases ranged from guitar-driven hard rock to electronic folk to straight-ahead salsa. 

4. Women Rule: If there’s a scarcity of women in Latin music and in touring bands, it’s not happening in Bogota. Most bands were either fronted by women or had female members, from bass players to guitarists. Examples: Mad Tree (female bass player); La Boa (one of three singers); Cimarron and Lunalé (both had female lead singers); La Vodkanera (horn players and singer); La Mojarra Eléctirca (singer); La Playara (cuatro, flute and vocals); Explosión Negra (singer/percussion); Los Pangurbes (singer). You get the drift. 

5. In the land of cumbia and vallenato, heavy metal is beloved (at least in Bogotá): While not present in the showcases, heavy metal is a genre of choice in Colombia’s capital. According to Javier Bulla, who books Auditorio Lumiere, “Everything hard metal that we book, works. There is a huge hard metal fanbase in Bogotá and its surroundings.” 

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