Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel is best known as a musician. He started his solo work in 1975 after leaving his old school group: Genesis. He has released eleven solo albums and written soundtracks for three films.

In 1980 he founded WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance), which has presented 170 festivals in over 30 countries. The festival became the inspiration for Real World Records, which he launched in 1989 with the aim of providing talented artists from around the world with access to state-of-the-art recording facilities, and help get their music better known around the world. Artists released by the label such as Hukwe Zawose, Ayub Ogada, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Papa Wemba, Totó La Momposina, Sheila Chandra and more recently The Gloaming and Loney dear, have all helped establish the label’s eclectic credentials.

Since 1980, when Peter released the anti-apartheid single ‘Biko’ he has been actively involved in human rights campaigning. He has participated in many benefit concerts, notably Amnesty International’s 1988 Human Rights Now! Tour, which was the first benefit concert to tour globally with Youssou N’Dour, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Sting. It was on this tour he saw first hand how video can transform a human rights activist’s chances of achieving justice and change, and in 1992 proposed the creation of an organization to pioneer the use of video in human rights work, Witness.org. Around 2000 he co-founded TheElders.org, with Richard Branson, to bring together a small group of highly respected global leaders, launched with Nelson Mandela in July 2007.

In 1999 Peter co-founded On Demand Distribution (OD2) with Charles Grimsdale and others, which quickly became Europe’s first successful Digital Music Download retailer (and pre-dated Apple’s iTunes launch in Europe by some four years). OD2 is now Nokia Music.

Still convinced in the need for easy digital access to music, he co-founded WE7, a streaming service, with John Taysom and Steve Purdham in 2006 (two years before Spotify). It was sold in 2013.

In 2008 Peter, along with Real World and British Hi-fi manufacturer Bowers and Wilkins, created the Society of Sound to record and release new music in high definition audio. The Society of Sound has recorded over 100 albums of previously unheard music (as well as many recordings from the archives of the LSO) in the highest possible quality

For his music, Peter has received several Grammy and MTV awards, an Oscar nomination, the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and various lifetime achievement awards including BT’s Digital Music Pioneer Award and The Polar Music Prize. He has twice been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall. For his activism, The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates awarded him Man of Peace award in 2006 and TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Peter is now writing and recording, and working on a plan to create a streaming service for digital medicine and an Interspecies Internet.

Further reading

Les Amazones d’Afrique live at Real World Studios available on Qwest TV

You can now stream the full concert, which was filmed during the launch tour for their new album.

Tim Bowness signs publishing deal with Real World Music

Tim will release his sixth solo album on 28 August 2020.

10 tracks from across the globe to check out right now

Listen to these great tracks and many more on our regularly updated World playlist.

A look back on 2019 at Real World Records

Looking back on a busy twelve months for the record label in the year of our 30th birthday.