Featured workBrian Shimkovitz: Awesome Tapes from Africa

Awesome Tapes from Africa is an online music repository created by Brian Shimkovitz, who first encountered the cassette-based music economy prevalent in many African countries upon his 2002 ethnomusicology fellowship to Ghana.

Shimkovitz’s fascination with the quality and diversity of the tapes he found, which were unknown abroad, lead him to create the Awesome Tapes from Africa website, ultimately achieving the paradoxical task of distributing analogue recordings in a digital manner. “Cassette technology has made a massive impact on music distribution in Africa since its introduction in the early 1980s,” Shimkovitz notes, pointing out the inherent duality of the fact: “The popularity of tapes coincided with an explosion of piracy, which helped bring an end to vinyl LP manufacturing across the continent […]. At the same time, it created a situation where recorded music of all kinds – not limited to local movements – became available to anyone through the ubiquitous stereos found in markets, shops and vehicles.” Shimkovitz believes that digitization can be liberating for African musicians, generating a renewed interest in myriad African musician sub-cultures, and bringing African music to the ears of listeners all over the world.


  • Website © Awesome Tapes from Africa

    Brian Shimkovitz. Awesome Tapes from Africa, 2002–ongoing.