This year marks the 20th anniversary of the World Beat column, which started in February 1994, way back in the last century. At that time, CDs ruled the roost and there were plenty of stores selling "world music" in Bangkok; international chains like Tower Records had a significant presence, supported by local chains selling Thai and international music. Cassettes were slowly being phased out in provincial towns, replaced by CDs, while downloads were in the distant future.
Artists like zydeco star Cedric Watson are increasingly performing at festivals in Thailand.
How things have changed. In Southeast Asia it is now much harder to find legal CDs of local artists, as these have been replaced by karaoke VCDs, pirated CDs and, the biggest change of all, digital downloads. In Asia, only Japan continues to sell large numbers of legit CDs. But who could have predicted the astonishing revival of vinyl and, to a lesser extent, cassette tapes?
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