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Palm Offers Multimedia Passport to World

6 Feb, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Music can inspire, teach and unite people. Palm Pictures and its founder, world music aficionado Chris Blackwell, think music DVD just might be able do the same.

To that end, Palm is extending its “World Voices” DVD series, a multimedia collection showcasing sounds and images from musicians around the world.

The series had a soft launch in 2005 with three titles, said Lisa Nishimura, GM for Palm. “We are moving toward a proper launch in 2006, with more titles and a re-launch of the previously released ones.”

Each package contains a DVD with music and footage from a geographic area or specific artist, a CD with a selection of corresponding music, a book with photos and essays, and a map designed by The National Geographic Society especially for the release.

The first releases include Africa and Vedic Path, a music and visual travelogue of India. The other is more biographical and documentary in nature and is about Senegalese singer Baaba Maal. The DVD includes rare footage of Maal performing for Nelson Mandela and a documentary on his music and life philosophy.

“[Maal] is an unbelievable ambassador for his country,” Nishimura said. Music provides a common language for people to discover artists like him, she said, and music DVD opens it up to an even larger audience.

This series is definitely a niche within a niche, Nishimura said. But there is something satisfying about crafting product that you believe in, she said, and Blackwell and his team believe strongly in these titles.

“It's something that you do because you feel it is an important thing to put out in the world,” Nishimura said.

The “World Voices” tagline is “Where the Journey Begins.”

“For a lot of people, the whole concept of world music or even world travel can be very daunting,” Nishimura said. “We see these titles as a complete, deluxe opportunity to explore a region of the world you might not otherwise get to.”

The first three “World Voices” releases were produced in close collaboration with Universal Music, which, including the Polygram library, holds the rights to the most comprehensive world music catalog. Upcoming titles will shift to a more traditional licensing/distribution relationship, with Palm taking the lead on the production, release and marketing of this year's “World Voices” entries.

The first new release this year will arrive in June with Mandela, a documentary on the life Nelson Mandela with a soundtrack from South African world and jazz musicians.

Following that will be a set on the music and images of Brazil and another called Spirit, diving into Arabic music and sights of the Sahara Desert.

The series lends itself to being used as an educational tool, Nishimura said, and Palm will target the nontraditional market for the line.

“It allows [kids] to learn there is more than just white America out there,” she said.

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