By Marina Estarque
The next Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan or Édith Piaf may be at your side, playing on some corner or subway station, says Brazilian journalist Daniel Bacchieri, creator of StreetMusicMap, one of the most active platforms for street music in the world.
“All these big names started out on the street, there are a lot of good people doing it, but we rush so much these days that we do not even pay attention to the things around us,” he explains. With the aim of giving visibility to street musicians, Bacchieri created StreetMusicMap, a project that has so far gathered more than 1,200 videos of artists from 93 countries.
Published on Instagram or on the project’s website, the videos are usually short – between 15 seconds and 1 minute – and show musicians performing on subways, beaches, plazas or sidewalks in the interior and capitals of Brazil, as well as Russia, Vietnam, Iran, Sudan and other countries.
The StreetMusicMap is “a daily report on street music”, defines Bacchieri. “I consider myself a reporter no matter the name of my job, because I always try to tell a story, when I’m producing, writing or recording. In the project, I’m reporting what the street offers, so it’s reporting.”
“At the time, we were trained to be an employee of large corporations, a reporter, editor or producers. That is, a cog in the wheel. But the crisis has affected everyone, even large groups. So the journalist of today needs to look for alternatives and often has to become the commander of the ship. It does not have to be a ship, it can be a small boat and you can navigate,” he said.
Although he’s not generating income, the project opened doors for the journalist. He began to learn about the musical scene of several cities and ended up become a reference in the sector. After the project, he was invited to curate street music for events from the creative economy.
The story behind the StreetMusicMap
StreetMusicMap began in 2014 when Bacchieri traveled to Ukraine. During the trip, he recorded a short video of a musician and posted it on his personal Instagram profile.
“He was playing a string instrument I had never seen, it was called bandura. I was going to take a picture, but Instagram had just released its 15-second video format. I made the recording and realized that 15 seconds was an interesting length for a narrative,” he recalled. After the trip, Bacchieri moved to São Paulo, for professional reasons, and began to record street musicians that he encountered on the way home.
With the channel created, friends and acquaintances started submitting videos and the project became collaborative. To this day, Bacchieri receives suggestions by email and selects the material that is added to StreetMusicMap. Additionally, the journalist searches for street musicians on the Internet and invites them to collaborate. “So the channel has grown and the connections have expanded,” he said.
Finally, Bacchieri also researches public video in Instagram profiles and republishes those he finds interesting. To do this, he contacts the profile owner first and asks permission to publish.
“I have never gotten a no. Most musicians are grateful for the sharing,” he said. Bacchieri always tries to give credit to the artist and to the person who made the recording.
“In the beginning, I was a purist and did not post without the musician’s name. But over time, I realized that the platform became a channel for promotion. Because many anonymous artists were being identified in the comments,” he said. This was the case of a video of a Russian harpist playing in Red Square in Moscow. The recording was posted without her name, and minutes later, the artist identified herself in the comments: “:D wow! It’s me!” Bacchieri, half incredulous, asked if she was really the harpist, and she confirmed.
Another artist the project helped to spread was an American who sang in Austin, Texas. Bacchieri posted the video and, in the comments, a Brazilian asked where she could find more songs by the artist. The artist replied with a link. “She won a fan in Brazil through the project,” Bacchieri shared.
In another case, a social worker in the Democratic Republic of Congo sent a message to Bacchieri thanking him for the sequence of videos published with African musicians. “She said she was able to explain to deaf-mute students the different cultures of the African continent just with the musicians’ body language,” he said.
Catching Instagram & Spotify Attention
Two years ago, the head of Instagram’s music area found and interviewed Bacchieri about StreetMusicMap. Instagram published a story about his project on their blog and published the harpist’s video on their official profile. “The number of project followers has increased tenfold and the Russian harpist’s video already has almost three million views on Instagram. This was important for the account to grow,” Bacchieri said.
In addition to Instagram, the project also has a Spotify account with selections from street musicians. They are organized by place, like Berlin or Los Angeles. “The filter [of music choice] in Spotify is of technical quality. For Instagram, the charm is that the video gives you the sensation of traveling the world. That’s why I like raw videos with little production. There’s the dog barking, the car passing, and the immediate audience reaction. That sound of the street is the differential, you feel like a witness,” he explained.
Bacchieri said that he chose the theme of the project because he is a great admirer of music. Despite this, the journalist does not play any instruments. “Nothing at all!” he confessed, laughing. “I created StreetMusicMap for me, I’m the number one fan of the project.”