Real World Records was founded in 1989 by WOMAD and Peter Gabriel to provide talented artists from around the world with access to state-of-the-art recording facilities and audiences beyond their geographic region.

At the beginning it was the musical relationships generated at the WOMAD festivals that gave Real World Records confidence that something of this special spirit could be translated into a recording context.

Consequently, the Real World label has become renowned for bringing together musicians who share an empathy with music in general, rather than simply a shared cultural background.

Real World Records continues to push back the boundaries— with new artists to discover, new ways of recording, new meeting points.

Since 1989, Real World Records has grown into a label of wide-ranging, world-class music from all corners of the globe. Many of the label’s releases are recorded at Real World Studios where the live interactive spaces provide an environment capable of capturing the excitement and vitality of musicians in performance.

Since the early days, Real World Records has been at the heart of a peaceful revolution in the music business.

“We’ve always been vibrant, alive and kicking. We worked hard to create an environment where the artists felt respected and supported, so that they were able to deliver extraordinary performances.” Peter Gabriel

Before Real World, only with great determination, or a lot of travelling, was it possible to access music by artists working outside Western Europe and North America.

Now, via the internet and through streaming services you can find music from every continent with ease. In a changing music industry Real World has continued its own exploration of outstanding music. There’s an enormous variety of styles, moods and genres within the music catalogue that bears the famous colour bar logo, but they all have one thing in common— the quality of the recording and the superb production.

Whilst there is a tendency for people to pull together this diverse range of releases under the banner ‘world music’, the reality of the Real World output extends beyond this categorisation. Great music is enjoyable to listen to irrespective of the nationality of artists creating it. Indeed, many of the most exciting sounds that you will discover on our label are the result of collaborations between musicians from many different countries.

We hope that you’ll discover something within the pages of this website to excite and intrigue you. There’s plenty of opportunity for listening and watching and also for delving a little deeper into the stories behind the music and artists that we’ve been lucky enough to work with over the last 30 years.

Further reading

A musical showcase at the top of the world

Northern Expo 2018 took place in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, which is situated at 78° North.

Real World music featured on BBC Two’s Mediterranean with Simon Reeve

Simon Reeve embarks on a journey around the Mediterranean, soundtracked by music from Real World.

New Dawn: Track by Track

Producer Søren Kjær Jensen looks at the songs on renowned Somalian ensemble Waaberi's 1997 album.

The incredible story of 9Bach and the boy who lived with dogs

'Ifan' tells the story of Ivan Mishukov, the boy who lived with dogs in the streets of Moscow.