Popular Music And Diplomacy: The Case Of The French Music Office


I wish to introduce the French Music Office (FMO) created in 1990, New York, by the French Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs to export popular music in the United States. It was the first time in French history when popular music was acknowledged as an economic and cultural power, replacing the Association Française d’Action Artistique (AFAA) in place since 1922 supporting exclusively classical music. The French Music Office is still active today and many offices opened after 1990 (in Paris, São Paulo, London, Berlin and Tokyo) more commonly known as Bureau Export. At a time when Europe is implementing programmes to strengthen the export policy (Music Moves Europe programme) no research has yet been dedicated to the subject.

With this presentation I want to explore how the opening of the French Music Office in 1990  illustrates the interests and priorities of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, and a new understanding of popular music as a diplomatic tool. I will dedicate a first part to the discussions that led to the opening of the French Music Office. Secondly, I would like to give a few examples of the popular music exported and the artists who performed in a post-cold war world. At a crossroads between international relations, cultural history and musicology, my research focuses on how popular music became the centre of attention for both Ministers in their quest for influence in the United States. How did popular music become a tool to conquer the American imaginary? Who were the artists gathered under the “made in France” label?


Carole Idczak studied in London (Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths and English at UCL) where she discovered popular music studies before moving back to France where she completed a Master’s Degree in Music and the social sciences (EHESS, Paris). She is particularly interested in studying popular music at a crossroads between international relations and musicology, focusing on how music can be used as a tool to promote peace, by organisations including UNESCO, and promoted as a universal language, yet serving countries’ interests as in the case of France with the creation of the FMO after the cold war.

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