Sounds of Chile

Chilean music goes global with PortalDisc

Of the total downloads, 25 percent originate overseas, with the United States downloading more than any other country outside Chile

Friday, July 15, 2011  
Ana Tijoux is among the Chilean artists having success on the new site - and around the world. Ana Tijoux is among the Chilean artists having success on the new site - and around the world.

In the last several years, Chilean music has gone international. Increasing numbers of international bands and festivals have touched down on Chilean soil to find it blossoming with neo-folk, rock, eloctronic, and Latin music. Meanwhile, performers like Los Bunkers, Javiera Mena, and Gepe have made places for themselves on the international festival circuit.

But international audiences need not wait for live appearances to hear the sounds of Chile at home. With the launch of his website PortalDisc, Sebastián Milos created an online platform for downloading Chilean music anywhere on earth.

The website features a still-growing catalogue of some 2,100 albums by Chilean artists like Violeta Parra, Chinoy, Chico Trujillo and Banda Conmoción amongst others. About 70 percent of the discs available are currently out of circulation, like a rare live performance by Joan Baez from 1981. From the website’s launch in 2009 until May 2010, the website had seen 2,500 total downloads. In the course of the following year, downloads increased to 12,000. Milos has predicted as many as 22,000 downloads by 2012.

Perhaps the most surprising statistic has been the number of downloads from abroad. Fully 25 percent of the downloads have come from foreign countries, a third of those coming from the United States. Mexico followed with 15.3 percent of foreign downloads, followed by  Germany, Japan and Australia, all with less than 10 percent.

The most popular download is also the prototype of the international Chilean artist: Violeta Parra, who spent a large part of her career in Paris and is the only Chilean with a place in the Louvre’s permanent collection. Following Parra are contemporary proponents of the Chilean songwriting tradition like Camila Moreno, Gepe, and Manuel García. Traditional bands like Chico Trujillo (Chile’s most famous cumbia band) and Banda Conmoción (playing cumbias and gypsy music from the north) have also been popular amongst foreign audiences.

To download your own Chilean tunes, visit