Pioneering manager Rebeca León, who has guided the rise of Juanes, J Balvin and now Rosalía, leads Billboard’s annual Latin Power Players — the executives behind Latin music’s explosive move into the pop music mainstream.
CEO, Lionfish Entertainment
When Rebeca León first saw her client Rosalía perform live in Marbella, Spain, in 2017, she had two immediate reactions. “I thought that one of the most exciting things about her was that she was so irreverent about breaking culture and dancing flamenco in her Air Force 1s,” recalls León, 45. “I had never seen that before.” Then her manager brain kicked in: “ ‘This has to transcend. We’re going to get a Nike deal.’ ”
Fast forward three years, and Rosalía has become the newest face of Nike Air Max as part of a multiyear global campaign — the first deal of its kind between the brand and a Latin music act, and a partnership struck by a singular manager. “Rebeca is a force, paving the way for female creatives and entrepreneurs globally,” says Gabrielle Bozza, Nike’s senior director of global influencer marketing. “She is disrupting the traditional approach to artist development and pushing boundaries in music and marketing.”
That mindset has helped León transform Rosalía from a standout artist in a niche genre to one of the world’s most in-demand acts — a global priority at Columbia and Sony Latin, where she’s signed to a joint label deal, and a history-making performer who took the stage at the Grammys in January, where she was the first best new artist nominee who records predominantly in Spanish.
León herself is no stranger to crossing cultural boundaries. Born in Miami to Cuban parents and raised bilingual, she has deftly navigated between the mainstream and Latin music worlds her entire career. She spent 11 years at AEG Live/Goldenvoice, where she headed the company’s Latin business as senior vp of Latin talent while simultaneously managing Juanes and J Balvin as co-founder/CEO of her own company, Lionfish Entertainment. (León created Lionfish in 2004 but relaunched it in 2014.)
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula
Managing director, Universal Music Latino, Machete and Capitol Latin
President, Universal Music Latin Entertainment
Executive vp, Universal Music Latin America and Iberian Peninsula
Managing director, Fonovisa Disa USA/México
In 2017, “Despacito,” from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (with a remix featuring Justin Bieber), ushered in a new era of global mainstream hits by Latin artists. Three years later, Universal Music Latin can point to success in the United States and around the world with artists like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Karol G and Christian Nodal. And non-Latin stars are eager to collaborate and claim chart-toppers with them.
“Everything started with ‘Despacito,’ ” says Jesús López, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula, whose roster includes 700 artists. “I feel I truly have a seat at the table, with the same plate as my Interscope colleague, for example. And the full backing of [Universal Music Group chairman/CEO] Lucian Grainge, who serves the dinner.”
Massive streaming numbers — Balvin notched 1 billion streams the first week of release for his album Colores — allowed UMG’s Latin music business to grow 25% year to date versus 18% for the market as a whole in 2020, says López.
The company’s U.S. Latin labels, which include regional Mexican powerhouses Disa and Fonovisa, now account for 25.34% of the Latin market, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, with UMG’s total market share at 36.02%.
Streaming also offset revenue losses from live shows canceled due to the coronavirus. “It has been the hardest part,” says López, who has a growing business in his company’s management/live entertainment division, GTS, which manages Sebastián Yatra and David Bisbal, among others. “Fortunately, we’ve been very active in the management part,” he says, highlighting new sponsorship deals by Yatra and Mercado Libre. Most important, he says, “we haven’t had to cut one job.”
But the real challenge is the future, as the signing of new talent has stalled. “To sign an artist, you have to see them. I’m not averse to one-hit wonders, but we build careers.”
Chairman/CEO, Sony Music Latin Iberia
President, Sony Music U.S. Latin
Executive vp/COO, Sony Music Latin Iberia
VP A&R, Sony Music Latin Iberia
VP artist relations and marketing, Sony Music U.S. Latin
Sony Music Latin’s extraordinarily successful 2020 began with the groundbreaking Super Bowl LIV halftime performance by Sony Latin artist Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, who releases her Spanish-language music through Sony.
“These two women marked a historic moment,” says Afo Verde, chairman/CEO of Sony Music Latin Iberia. “It was absolutely outstanding for us as a team.”
In another milestone, “Hawái” from Sony Latin artist Maluma became the first song to top Billboard’s newly launched Global Excl. U.S. chart in September, which “highlighted the power and muscle of both Latin music and the company,” says Alex Gallardo, president of Sony Music U.S. Latin.
New albums by Anuel AA, Ozuna, Maluma and Camilo — all released during the pandemic — have further highlighted Sony’s ability to take local and regional music global.
“These were complex albums to work, yet they all became Sony priorities,” says Verde, who works closely with other Sony labels like Arista, Columbia and RCA. “There’s definitely a family spirit.”
The family’s numbers are impressive. The combined U.S. Latin market share for Sony and its fully owned independent distributor, The Orchard — to which Verde and Gallardo have signed marquee acts like Anuel and Ozuna — is an impressive 46.51%, as of Oct. 1. But with some 500 artists worldwide, of which 80 are signed to Sony U.S. Latin, Sony Latin Iberia’s reach is global.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being family for our artists,” says Verde. “Now we’re even closer. We’re also very proud to be part of a corporation that established a global relief fund in response to COVID-19.”
As the pandemic continues to stall touring, Sony’s focus is on delivering a steady stream of releases — and also caring for its artists. Looking ahead, “I’m excited about this new generation that grew up with urban music but all come from different backgrounds,” says Gallardo, who recently signed Argentine rapper Nicki Nicole to his U.S. label.
“Diversity enriches,” says Verde.
President, Warner Music Latin America & Iberia
Managing director, Warner Music Latina
VP marketing, Warner Music Latina
VP A&R, Warner Music Latina
VP A&R, Warner Music Latina
“The Latin music genre continues its trend toward globalization and that in itself is worth highlighting,” says Zabala, whose new signings reflect an expansive worldview: Guilia Be from Brazil, Lit Killah from Argentina, Micro TDH from Venezuela, Don Patricio from Spain, Leon Leiden from Mexico, Las Villa and producer-turned-artist Ovy on the Drums from Colombia. Warner artists have benefited from the global reach of its YouTube channel, Warner Música, which has grown at a rate of 100,000 subscribers per month, reaching 5.5 million subscribers, according to Warner. In the United States, established artists like Justin Quiles are expanding their reach with collaborations like “PAM” (featuring Daddy Yankee and El Alfa). “The level of creativity of our artists, to continue to release music and engage with their audiences, has been inspiring,” says Martínez.
The election in November is important because: “The planet depends on it.” - Zabala
Co-founder/CEO, Rimas Entertainment
Assad, 30, runs Rimas as a management company and one-stop label/distribution operation. He secured his superstar artist Bad Bunny a guest spot during the Super Bowl LIV halftime show starring Shakira (with whom the trap singer performed “I Like It” and “Callaíta”) and Jennifer Lopez, along with J Balvin. The performance drew 103 million viewers, according to Fox, but Assad says he prefers action to numbers as proof of the Latin genre’s rise. “Four Latinos came and gave the most American sport some Latin flavor. That’s a big statement that we’re here to stay, we’re not going anywhere.” For the year thus far, Bad Bunny is the top Latin albums artist.
Crucial Latin music issue: “We should start educating artists, when they do deals, about everybody’s role. A label’s not a management company and a management company’s not a label — everyone brings something different to the table. Every artist needs to understand how to create their team.”
CEO, Symphonic Distribution
Brea’s fully independent company, which he launched from his parents’ home in 2006, offers distribution, marketing, royalty collection and more for record labels, artists, managers and other distributors. Based in Tampa, Fla., with a presence in Brooklyn, Nashville and Bogotá, Colombia, Symphonic Distribution has seen YouTube views for artists it represents rise 40% in 2020 to over 10 billion overall, says Brea. “It’s incredible to see that Latin has become mainstream,” he says. “Latin America offers such a rich culture, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.”
What the social climate means for Latin music: “It has taught us to love, unite and create together. It has affected the subject matter and tone of the music artists are creating.”
Managing director, InnerCat Music Group
Cabezas, 48, and the team at his digital services company have paid out over $7 million in royalties to independent artists so far this year, he says, citing the success of InnerCat-affiliated talent including Puerto Rican hip-hop acts like Jamby el Favo and Joseph el de la Urba, reggaetón producer Tainy and salsa/bolero legend and bandleader Gilberto Santa Rosa. Jamby and Tainy both hit 1 million subscribers on YouTube this year, he says, while Santa Rosa racked up 70,000 viewers for a livestream show in June: “Not a bad attendance number for an online concert,” says Cabezas.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Respect. The major companies and other genres are taking seriously what we can bring to the table both musically and financially. But we still have a ways to go.”
Frabián Elí Carrión Barreto
President, Real Hasta la Muerte Records
Anuel AA, Carrión’s marquee client and business partner in Real Hasta la Muerte Records, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart with Emmanuel, marking the second time he reached the spot. Carrión also helped Anuel reach No. 1 on Latin Airplay eight times in the past two years. This year alone, Anuel has earned four entries on the Billboard Hot 100. “Latin music is mostly joyful, but the pandemic has changed that,” says Carrión, 29, who also manages socially minded rapper Kendo Kaponi.
What the social climate means for Latin music: “It allows lyrics [about these concerns] to be valued.”
Heli Del Moral
VP international development, CD Baby/AVL Digital Group
CD Baby represents over 150,000 Latin artists who “serve as inspiration and role models for the next generation of indie artists across the U.S. and Latin America,” says Del Moral. The distributor helps Latin artists stay independent and in control of their careers, he says. He cites the breakout of Dominican dembow artist El Alfa, whose album El Androide, released in May, reached No. 7 on Latin Rhythm Albums. This past year, El Alfa scored a slot supporting Farruko at the Miami Arena, and his latest single, “Trap Pea” with Tyga, has been featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlists in 26 countries, says Del Moral.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Inclusivity. Streaming has given music fans around the world just a taste of the new and alluring flavors that Latin artists are producing. Now the appetite is there to discover more.”
Ángel Del Villar
Founder/CEO, DEL Records
DEL Records expanded its roster in 2020, and one of its newest talents, the teen trio Eslabon Armado, known for its traditional sierreña music and romantic lyrics, spent seven weeks at No. 1 on Regional Mexican Albums with its debut, Tu Veneno Mortal. When the group’s sophomore release, Vibras de Noche, also reached No. 1, the threesome became the first (and so far only) act in 2020 to replace itself atop Regional Mexican Albums. “Eslabon is key, not only for us as a label but for the new generation of regional Mexican [artists], who are the future of a great part of Latin music,” says del Villar.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Concerts will not return so soon; it will be a slow process. So we have to focus on creating more content and staying relevant.”
CEO, Mr. 305
Fernández, who co-founded Mr. 305 with Pitbull, has helped guide the career of the superstar rapper, singer, songwriter and producer for two decades. Most recently, he was executive producer of Pitbull’s 11th studio set, Libertad 548, which reached No. 12 on Top Latin Albums, while the singles “Me Quedaré Contigo” and “No Lo Trates” topped Latin Rhythm Airplay. In April, as the pandemic shut down the nation, Pitbull released the single “I Believe That We Will Win” in collaboration with Saban Music Group to raise funds for charities including Feeding America and the Tony Robbins Foundation.
Crucial Latin music issue: “This could be applied to all music: financial literacy for all artists, songwriters, producers. Apart from the creative side, we all need to understand that it’s the music business — business being a huge part.”
Founder/CEO, Rancho Humilde
With the success of Rancho Humilde star Natanael Cano, whose catalog has earned over 400,000 equivalent album units, the Latin genre of corridos proves it could match the popularity of Latin rhythmic music, says Humilde, 40. As one success from a deep label roster, Cano’s achievement has heightened the company’s profile internationally, he says, as his roster mines Latin trap, corridos, urban Mexican and other regional Mexican styles. Also, adds Humilde, “we are really focused right now on lyrics that are uplifting about women. We need to give women the credit they deserve through lyrics that are respectful and empowering. We wish more labels would follow this lead.”
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “I can’t wait to hug all my friends and all my family members. I also can’t wait to go back on the road.”
Manager, Sebastián Yatra; managing director, GTS U.S.
When Sebastián Yatra’s fall tour with Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin was postponed until 2021, Kaminsky developed a strategy to boost other sources of revenue for the artist. “We’ve developed paid content and branding opportunities,” says Kaminsky, who has been in her role since April at the artist management/booking division of Universal Music Latin Entertainment. GTS now has 12 offices in Latin America and Spain, 60 artists on the management roster and normally books and presents 1,000 shows each year, according to the company.
The election in November is important because: “It defines what the future will look like, what kind of values and social framework we want, and hopefully we will get young generations and Latin communities highly engaged and involved.”
Co-founder/COO, Rich Music
Rich Music released over 40 new songs in the first nine months of 2020, including hits by marquee artists Sech, Dalex, Dimelo Flow and Justin Quiles, according to the company. “Even though we’ve had to go through a bunch of changes in our daily lives, we’re projected to surpass our previous year’s numbers,” says Mendez, who co-founded Rich Music with his father, Rich Mendez. “We’re creating outlets for [artists] to express themselves [while] fans continue to support and stream our music.”
What the social climate means for Latin music: “It’s saddening to see that we live in a world where people are oppressed and have to deal with injustice because of their skin color, ethnicity or sexual orientation. It’s admirable seeing how artists in the Latin industry are using their platforms to inform fans about what’s going on.”
Nelson "Polo" Montalvo
CEO, La Buena Fortuna Global
Montalvo’s company is known for musically refined clients like Jorge Drexler and Residente. But it has also scored commercial success in the past year, thanks to Kany García and Pedro Capó, whose “Calma” won song of the year at the Latin Grammy Awards; views of the track’s remix video have surpassed 2 billion.
What the social climate means for Latin music: “Music should be a tool used to build, should always try to give a voice to those who don’t have one. If history has shown something, it is that music knows no discrimination nor boundaries.”
Senior vp global artist and label partnerships, The Orchard
Senior vp global artist and label partnerships, The Orchard
VP Latin, The Orchard
VP Latin, The Orchard
Through its global partnerships and savvy marketing, the Latin team at The Orchard, the world’s largest distributor of independent releases, has played a role in the success of top Latin stars both stateside and abroad. Pascal worked with Sony Latin to help Anuel AA debut at No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums and Latin Rhythm Albums charts with Emmanuel in June. Cichowski’s deals in recent years helped The Orchard to work with Anuel and Ozuna, among many others. He signed Konrad Dantas (aka CanalKondZilla on YouTube) to a recent deal, and The Orchard helped grow the channel’s subscribers by 8 million to a total of 58 million in just a few months, according to the company. Torres negotiated The Orchard’s deal with Mexican label Seitrack, home of artists such as Los Ángeles Azules, María José, Jose Bronco, Mœnia and others. Tesoriero, meanwhile, notes that the distributor’s new partnership with Dale Play Records has brought into its fold acts like Duki, WOS and Nicki Nicole in Argentina. “Within the year, Nicki Nicole and Duki have been on fire,” she says, citing five appearances by Duki on Spotify’s Weekly Top 200 and Daily Viral 50 lists and Nicki Nicole’s entries on Billboard’s Argentina Hot 100 chart, “Wapo Traketero” and “Colocao.”
Most exciting Latin music trend: “I love the Latin trap sound. Artists like Nicki Nicole have really been pushing the boundaries, especially as a woman in a male-dominated genre. I love Anuel’s sound as well. Mixing the Southern trap beats with the Latin sound shows music is global, and the appetite for the new fusion in music is growing in new ways constantly.” - Tesoriero
Managing director, ADA Latin
In July, Paz arrived to oversee the Latin division of ADA, the independent artist development and distribution arm of Warner Music Group, and has since put teams in place across the United States, Mexico, the Andean region, Brazil and Iberia. “We were able to move full steam ahead in our global expansion, despite the challenges of recruiting during a pandemic,” says Paz, who previously led Sony’s digital marketing teams for Latin artists. At ADA, he says, “we are working together to develop an unparalleled roster of local artists, labels and partners focused on the Latin market.”
Crucial Latin music issue: “As Latin music continues to hit new highs, it’s important that we continue to open more outlets for the independent music sector to shine.”
Chairman/CEO, GoDigital Media Group
As the owner of GoDigital, the parent company of digital distributor/rights management company Cinq Music, Peterson, 38, says Cinq’s team, led by Barry Daffurn, helped score 85 chart-topping tracks in the past year for Latin acts including Anuel AA, Haze, Yashua and Arsenal Effectivo, across multiple Latin charts. Cinq also distributed Natanael Cano, the third-most-consumed Latin artist in the first half of 2020, and GoDigital struck a long-term worldwide marketing, financing and distribution agreement with Cano’s label, Rancho Humilde.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “The continual integration of Latin music with popular English-language music. I love to see artists collaborate to create new expressions of traditional genres.”
CEO, Ingrooves Music Group
“We are increasingly looking to pair the great global entrepreneurs with whom we work to find opportunities to expand audiences around the world,” says Roback. Ingrooves, which is owned by Universal Music Group and distributes independent releases, has signed new partnerships with labels like Farruko’s Carbon Fiber Music, GR6 from Brazil, and Casete Digital Agriculture and Serca Music from Mexico. “The team over at Rich Music continues to deliver incredible releases from stars like Sech and Dalex; Lunay [has a] hit-laden debut album, Epico, from Star Island. And DEL Records introduced two breakout artists this year with T3R Elemento and Eslabon Armado.”
Most exciting Latin music trend: “The amount of collaboration between Latin and mainstream pop and hiphop artists. Language is no longer a barrier for incredible crossover hits. It’s a very exciting time in music, and we’re thrilled to be in the middle of it.”
Executive vp, Interscope Geffen A&M
After launching what Seroussi, 45, calls “the first full-fledged Latin operation within a major label” in early 2019, the veteran Latin executive’s activities contributed to IGA landing at No. 5 on Billboard’s year-end Top Latin Labels ranking. That achievement came thanks to hits like “Loco Contigo” from DJ Snake, J Balvin and Tyga, which reached No. 1 on Latin Airplay, and “I Can’t Get Enough” from Benny Blanco, Tainy and Selena Gomez, in partnership with producer Tainy’s NEON16 label. Seroussi’s roster also includes Kali Uchis, singer and social media personality Lele Pons, Argentinian singer KHEA and Panamanian producer Dimelo Flow.
Crucial Latin music issue: “The Latin mainstream lane has become too formulaic, which could lead to music fatigue among consumers. There’s a lot of great new talent out there who, if they get a chance to be heard, will really reenergize the format.
Founder, Vibras Lab
J Balvin, whom Acosta co-manages with Scooter Braun, continued his Latin music global evangelism, appearing alongside Jennifer Lopez and Shakira at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, sending a ninth video into YouTube’s Billion Views Club with his appearance on Jhay Cortez’s “No Me Conoce (Remix)” and scoring his ninth No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs with “Un Dia” (with Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny and Tainy). These are victories that show the music industry that “diverse and regional talents can be embraced by and rise to the top of the mainstream,” says Acosta, who is also behind the rapid ascent of Argentine rapper Cazzu.
The election in November is important because: “This marks the first time that Latinos will be the largest racial or ethnic minority in the electorate. With almost 32 million eligible voters, Latinos have been given the opportunity to choose leaders that fight for our interests. Simply put, the election in November is important because every vote counts, especially the Latino vote.”
Jorge "Pepo" Ferradas
CEO, FPM Entertainment
Ferradas, 56, launched FPM Entertainment in fall 2019 to manage a trio of artists: Colombia’s Camilo reached No. 1 on Latin Pop Albums in May with Por Primera Vez and has achieved 5 billion global streams, says Ferradas. Lali, an Argentine singer and actress, has a lead role in Netflix’s Sky Rojo and has released the singles “Lo Que Tengo Yo” and “Fascinada” during the pandemic. And Nathy Peluso has already been confirmed for Coachella 2021 as one of only three Latin artists at the festival, according to FPM. New to Ferradas’ roster is singer Evaluna Montaner (who is Camilo’s wife).
Crucial Latin music issue: “The disappearance of live shows — something absolutely key for the development and promotion of artists and their music.
VP Latin entertainment/senior manager, Red Light Management
In August, Giaccardi’s longtime client Enrique Iglesias was featured on Anuel AA’s “Fútbol y Rumba” — it was the artist’s 31st No. 1 on the Latin Airplay chart, having posted his first hit in 1995. That’s the longevity of an icon, and one reason Giaccardi was recently able to, as he puts it, “modernize” Iglesias’ Sony deal with regards to streaming, along with bringing the artist’s back catalog (which he owns) to the label for distribution. “It’s not easy to have a hit,” says Giaccardi. “But it’s even more complicated to stay relevant for many years.”
What the social climate means for Latin music: “It’s an opportunity for Latinos to raise their voice and their hand and say, ‘Hey, we also are discriminated against.’ So, yes, I would like to see the Latin community — artistic or not — see what’s happening and say, ‘Black lives matter — and Latinos too.’ ”
Founder/CEO, WK Entertainment/WK Records
As if managing top Latin acts such as Maluma, Carlos Vives and CNCO didn’t keep him busy enough, Kolm in June launched WK Records, with distribution through The Orchard and initial signings Alex Rose, Cheo Gallego and Seven Kayne. Maluma’s “Hawái” claimed No. 1 on Billboard’s inaugural Global Excl. U.S. chart dated Sept. 19. The song also broke a Spotify record in Mexico after collecting 2 million streams in a single day, says Kolm, who was Billboard’s 2018 Latin Power Players Executive of the Year. Despite Latin music’s explosive mainstream popularity, Kolm says, “we still don’t get the recognition we deserve in the media or on television and award shows.”
The election in November is important because: “Our country is in extreme turmoil, and there are a lot of issues that not only affect the Latin community but other communities as well. It’s time to come together and fight for the change that we need and what we believe in.”
President/CEO, Lizos Music
A month before the coronavirus largely shut down touring, Banda MS played back-to-back sellouts on Feb. 14 and 15 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. The doubleheader grossed $3.2 million, while in 2019, the chart-topping band from Mazatlan, Mexico, grossed $11.8 million and sold over 140,000 tickets. “The shows at Staples were a definite highlight,” says Lizárraga, 45, who co-founded Banda MS in 2003. “That and our historical collaboration with Snoop Dogg” on “Qué Maldición.” Lizárraga was one of the producers of the genre-smashing track, which reached No. 4 on Hot Latin Songs.
The election in November is important because: “You’re not only deciding the future of the U.S. but the future of the world.”
Founding member/COO, JAK Entertainment
Wisin & Yandel were about to open a major tour following a deal that Martinez helped strike with Live Nation when the pandemic halted live shows. Martinez pivoted back to the most important thing: helping client Yandel make music. The artist’s album Quién Contra Mi 2 was created during quarantine and debuted in the top 10 on Top Latin Albums. “In order to increase streaming and digital sales to make up for the loss on touring revenue, artists need to release more music than ever,” says Martinez, who also manages rising star Guaynaa. Still, after the pandemic, he looks forward to the “unique connections” his artists make with their fans while performing live.
The election in November is important because: “The policies at stake not only affect Latinos and minorities in today’s world but will continue to build more stable futures for generations to come.”
CEO, OCESA Seitrack
President, Seitrack U.S.
With his 16th studio album, Hecho en México, Alejandro Fernandez not only returned to his roots but also became the first artist to achieve No. 1s on Top Latin Albums in the 1990s, ’00s, ’10s and ’20s. Seitrack’s Mizrahi, 47, and Pagani, alongside partner Jason Garner, strategized Fernandez’s comeback — one of their biggest accomplishments this year. The company’s 20-artist roster also includes Los Ángeles Azules, Bronco and Miguel Bosé. Seitrack’s independent label, meanwhile, has grown steadily, and its talent agency in Mexico, helmed by Octavio Padilla, has partnered with multiple brands and various platforms to set up a record number of paid streaming shows. “2020 has been, arguably, a challenging year for everyone,” says Pagani. “However, we have accomplished key goals.”
Most exciting Latin music trend: “The blend of genres such as pop, urban and tropical, and the fusion of those genres in the new, emerging generations in regional Mexican music. - Pagani
Artist manager, Grassroots Music
Molina’s penchant for blending genres has been a key to his success. From pairing the Black Eyed Peas (whom he manages) with Ozuna and J. Rey Soul for their instant party-starter “Mamacita” (which hit No. 1 on Latin Airplay) to matching BEP with J Balvin on “Ritmo (Bad Boys for Life),” Molina recognizes the importance of intertwining hip-hop and Latin. It’s exciting “when two opposite genres come together to make a hit,” says Molina, who also manages Gerardo Ortiz. “There’s a difference between collaborating and having an actual hit.”
What the social climate means for Latin music: “We’re seeing more advocacy, testimonial and overall support for equality, which is good. We must continue to educate, inform and demonstrate change.”
CEO, Magnus Media
COO, Magnus Media
The management/booking agency run by Vega, 54, and Pimiento, 41, prioritized several projects apart from live tours during the pandemic. “2020 has been a challenging year for all, but especially for companies very highly positioned in the live-events industry,” says Vega. Nonetheless, Magnus Media has drawn on the strength of its place at the nexus of Latin music and culture: launching the energy drinks OCA and AZU in partnership with beverage company Beliv; signing a deal as the exclusive talent booker for Rappi Live Events; partnering with actress-producer Sofia Vergara on the upcoming animated film Koati; and teaming up with Latin World Entertainment to comanage and book content creators and influencers in the music space.
The election in November is important because: “Our entire democracy is in jeopardy like never before in our lifetimes.” - Vega
Founder/CEO, Westwood Entertainment
CEO, Westwood Entertainment
Westwood’s roster — including Carlos Rivera, Yuri, Reik, Pandora, 4Latidos, Juntitas Tour, Camila and Sin Bandera — had sold tickets to over 1,000 shows before the pandemic shut down touring, according to West and Juárez. They have since booked their acts for 80-plus paid streaming shows, reaching millions of fans. Their roster is also growing with international signees such as Llane, Manuel Medrano, Ventino and Dvicio. The key to surviving 2020? Reinvention and resilience, the partners say.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “Regional Mexican is a traditional genre reaching new audiences through experiments like Banda MS featuring Snoop Dogg, or Natanael Cano and Christian Nodal fusing folk music with new sounds from other genres, making it bigger and growing the audience.” - Juárez
CEO, Loud and Live
Senior vp entertainment, Loud and Live
With an expanded touring roster that includes Farruko, Carlos Vives, Silvestre Dangond and Soda Stereo, Loud and Live had planned to produce over 220 shows, which would have generated over $100 million in ticket sales across Canada and the United States (including Puerto Rico), says Albareda, 44. Instead, he and Martínez, 41, have focused on other revenue sources. As an agency of record for McDonald’s, they led the fast food chain’s landmark partnership with J Balvin. The company is a content development partner for Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO (for which Loud and Live has spearheaded four music specials in the past 18 months). It has a new joint venture with Move Concerts to expand the company’s presence in North, Central and South America, and it has relaunched SiriusXM music channel En Vivo. Says Albareda: “We’re excited to capitalize on the fruits of those innovative efforts.”
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “We can’t wait to walk back into sold-out arenas and see thousands of fans experiencing live music. Although virtual experiences have a place in the music industry, they will never replace live experiences.” - Albareda
Founder/CEO, Cárdenas Marketing Network
Cárdenas, 64, the veteran Latin promoter (Marc Anthony, Maluma, Bad Bunny) and Billboard’s 2019 Latin Power Player Executive of the Year, credits livestreaming for helping Latin music “reach people globally like never before” in a year rocked by the coronavirus. While there’s nothing like “that rush of screaming fans” at a live show, says Cárdenas, “we are very eager to be supporting artists, creating careers, forging dreams.” Cárdenas has found opportunities in experiential marketing and sports and has also continued to support Maestro Cares, the charity he co-founded with Anthony, serving some 10,000 children in 12 countries throughout Latin America and the United States. “These times have given me a clear understanding of how important it is to help each other and our future: our children.”
The election in November is important because: “Young Latinos are particularly vocal nowadays. But to continue this progress in our country, we need to go out there and vote. Just recently, we saw Bad Bunny registering to vote in Puerto Rico and [asking] his fans to do the same.”
CEO, Industria Works/Nacional Records
Cookman guides a multitiered company that operates record labels (Nacional Records and imprint Casa Nacional), an artist-services platform (Industria Works), a management division and even an industry conference, and he’s excited that Latin artists are finding more audiences worldwide than ever. The pandemic did not keep Cookman from staging his 21-year-old annual Latin Alternative Music Conference as a virtual event that had 10,000 registrants. With a peak participation of 3,133 viewers, the registrants were offered nearly 24 hours of programming, and they responded by collectively watching 39,876 hours of content.
The election in November is important because: “These last few years have been painful on many levels. Getting back to some resemblance of decency is the first of various steps to recovery.”
Chairman, Estefan Enterprises
Estefan, 67, spanned the musical globe this year as his wife, Gloria Estefan, scored her first entry on the Tropical Albums chart in nearly 13 years with Brazil305, an album he wrote and produced. The set debuted at No. 8 in August. The multiple Grammy Award winner also wrote and produced One World, the first album in over a quarter century from reggae titans The Wailers. “It was a tremendous responsibility to carry on the great legacy of Bob Marley,” he says. Asked to quantify his lifelong success, Estefan says his 19 Grammys are “one of the amazing professional accomplishments of my career,” before offering other numbers: “one beautiful wife, two incredible children, one amazing grandson.”
Crucial Latin music issue: “Breaking new artists and building on an artist’s longevity is a challenge for our industry,” says Estefan, adding that Latin music’s lifeblood depends upon “developing and creating new sounds, new beats that radio formats will support with airplay.”
Juan Diego Medina
Founder/CEO, La Industria
La Industria marquee management clients Nicky Jam, Manuel Turizo and ChocQuibTown didn’t let the pandemic stop them from delivering compelling new music. With Medina’s guidance, ChocQuibTown released its sixth studio album, June’s ChocQuib House, a set of star-studded collaborations that also celebrates Afro-Latino music. Nicky Jam, meanwhile, got personal with “Desahogo” (featuring Carla Morrison), with lyrical references to his native Colombia, also released in June. “We’ve had to reinvent ourselves day after day,” says Medina. “It’s just a matter of having faith in a world of uncertainty.”
Most exciting Latin music trend: “I like that [the dance style of] perreo is back. It reminds me of 10 years ago, when I was at the beginning of my career. It excites me to kick it old school every now and then.”
Camille Marie Soto Malave
Founder/CEO, Glad Empire
Leading Glad Empire, Soto Malave, 38, signed Flow La Movie to a multimillion-dollar distribution/label deal; in July, its artist Nio Garcia hit No. 4 on Hot Latin Songs with “La Jeepeta” (with Brray, Juanka, Anuel and Myke Towers), driven by graphic lyrics and viral adoption by TikTok users. Glad Empire also distributes Towers’ album Easy Money Baby, which the company says has already racked up 1 billion global streams (300 million in the United States). Meanwhile, Glad Empire’s publishing division landed deals with producers D-Note the Beatllionare and RKO, both of whom the company manages. Glad Empire also handles the publishing department for Ozuna’s Aura Music label.
What the social climate means for Latin music: “Artists, like many other normal civilians, are tired of injustice, discrimination and abuse of power, and they are making it known.”
CEO, Duars Entertainment
As the coronavirus halted touring, Duars, 39, organized a virtual live concert staged in the empty Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan for his management client Rauw Alejandro. (According to one report, Alejandro’s mother was the only person in the audience.) The one-hour event on May 16, which featured full staging and even pyrotechnics, garnered 1 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours, according to Duars. “In COVID times,” he says, “we learned how to communicate in a different way.” Alejandro’s single “Tattoo” (featuring Camilo) has also reached No. 1 on Latin Airplay.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Not touring. If you are not able to have a real connection with your fans, the magic could disappear for some artists.”
CEO, Move Concerts
During the pandemic, Move Concerts, one of Latin America’s leading promoters, organized a benefit for families of out-of-work production crews in Colombia; staged a drive-in concert in Puerto Rico with No Limits Entertainment on July 4; and avoided laying off any staff. “We are immensely proud of that,” says Rodriguez, 67. In the months before the lockdown, Move formed a joint venture with Loud and Live, and expanded into Argentina’s urban music scene through a partnership with DAMN!, a Spanish-language YouTube channel covering cannabis and underground hip-hop, along with Mad Productions. Rodriguez has also moved into management with Alejandro Lerner, Tiago PZK and Abel Pintos.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Survival mode. The key is how to recalibrate game plans to adapt to the pandemic so we can come out, hopefully, stronger. There are going to be loads of opportunities once this storm passes us by.”
Senior vp touring, Live Nation Latin
Senior vp booking, West Coast, Live Nation
Live Nation had been promoting tours by acts including the reunited Aventura, Alejandro Fernández, Marco Antonio Solís, Los Ángeles Azules, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin, with strong sales for all before the coronavirus shut down touring. “Ana Gabriel was also returning to the U.S. with an overwhelming sales response by her fans,” adds Simonitsch. Schafer, 38, booked Aventura’s Immortal Tour, which included a four-night gross of $7.1 million at Los Angeles’ Forum in February. He also worked on Romeo Santos’ record-breaking show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in September 2019 before 85,000 fans. It grossed an eye-popping $9 million, “an incredible testament to the power of Latin music,” he says.
What she’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “We are planning for our annual Mexican Independence celebration in Las Vegas with Maná, Banda MS, Alejandro Fernández and Los Ángeles Azules to return next year.” - Simonitsch
President, Zamora Entertainment; president, Promotores Unidos USA
In January, Zamora, 61, became president of Mexican music promoter association Promotores Unidos USA. “We have also put together a group of Mexican music promoters to develop new talent in the Mexican music industry,” he says. His own Zamora Entertainment promotion company marked its 30th anniversary this year. Presenting shows by acts such as Anuel, Banda MS and Marco Antonio Solís, he reports that his company has grown as much as 30% in each of the past three years. (Zamora does not report specific revenue.)
What the economic climate means for Latin music: “This has taught everyone to always be prepared. Always hope for the best — but be prepared for the worst. But always have a positive attitude.
Bruno Del Granado
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Del Granado, 55, saw overwhelming proof of the global embrace of Latin music last November when Maluma played his first show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the Diriyah Music Festival, for a crowd of 40,000. “Not one of them spoke Spanish,” says del Granado, “but they were singing along to all his songs.” Del Granado also represents stars for film and TV projects, and was instrumental in negotiating Maluma’s first movie, Marry Me, co-starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, according to CAA.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “The continued evolution of Latin urban music, which keeps pushing boundaries and crossing over to other genres, like Dua Lipa duetting with Bad Bunny and J Balvin. Also, the return of singer-songwriter-driven pop music. That’s music to my ears.”
In February, WME client J Balvin and Shakira (whose move to WME was announced in late summer) stunned the Super Bowl LIV halftime show audience alongside fellow Latin superstars Jennifer Lopez and Bad Bunny in a broadcast that drew 103 million viewers, according to Fox. Despite the lack of touring, WME has landed big deals for its Latin clients including partnerships with Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and Trident Gum for Prince Royce, represented by Lom, 43, and a brand ambassadorship for Nike for Rosalía, says Markus, 52. WME has also partnered Luis Miguel with Uber Eats. “During lockdown,” says Markus, “there have been zero clients for whom we have not been able to secure at least one booking, commercial deal, etc., after they have expressed interest.”
Crucial Latin music issue: “Oversaturation. With lowered barriers of entry every week, more music is hitting the market, making it more difficult for new acts to stand out. And with the high level of productivity happening during quarantine, there is sure to be a bottleneck in the coming months. There are too many ‘featurings,’ leading to an erosion of the real artist.” - Markus
Agent, talent, UTA
Agent, music, UTA
Meiojas, 38, whose clients include Bad Bunny, Romeo Santos, Diego Boneta and Marina de Tavira, worked with his colleagues to secure a “substantial role” for Bad Bunny in an upcoming Netflix project, according to UTA. He also booked Santos, reunited with Aventura, for the first stream on May 8 of the Bud Light Seltzer Sessions: Your Flavor. Your Show series. Norkin, 39, has signed talents including Colombian rapper Nanpa Básico, Puerto Rican-Cuban artist Mariah and Ángela Aguilar, the daughter of legend Pepe Aguilar. Before the pandemic, Norkin and his team booked a 40-city tour for Colombian trio Monsieur Periné that included stops at Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo and Brazil’s Rock in Rio festival.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “The mix of regional Mexican and hip-hop. There are stars who are writing incredible music that fuses the two genres, bridging two seemingly unconnected worlds.” - Norkin
VP Latin division, East Coast and Puerto Rico, peermusic
VP Latin division, West Coast, peermusic
Bagué won his second Latin Grammy Award in 2020, for best folk album for his production work on Luis Enrique and C4 Trio’s Tiempo Al Tiempo. He also helped Victor Manuelle break the Billboard record for the most top 10 hits on Tropical Airplay, and he brought Manuelle’s catalog under the peermusic roof. Drazan directed the production and marketing campaign for Jona Camacho’s Memento album during the pandemic while achieving a 54% year-over-year increase in synch Hispanic advertising in the United States this year.
What the social climate means for Latin music: “Whenever there have been social justice issues that are important or economic situations, it always stimulates creativity. You have artists that create songs promoting social justice and saying it in a way that is unique to their time.” - Bagué
President, Kobalt Latin America
Named independent publisher of the year at the 2020 ASCAP Latin Music Awards, Kobalt reports seven No. 1s on Hot Latin Songs so far this year, including Karol G and Nicki Minaj’s “Tusa” and the newly released “Un Día” by J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny and Tainy. The trend in cross-cultural collaborations is a testament to “the continued growth of Latin urban music taking over worldwide,” says Casonú, whose new clients include El Alfa and Bryant Myers and who renegotiated Kobalt’s global deal with Ozuna.
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “Finally getting on a plane to see my family in Argentina.”
Co-founder/chairman emeritus, Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame
Co-founder/chairman, Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame
Both accomplished songwriters and music publishers, Child, 66, and Pérez, 62, are honored here as co-founders of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, which plans to hold its annual induction event, La Musa Awards, on Jan. 14, 2021, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. “We’ve made it possible for songwriters in all genres of Latin music to have a home, where their body of work can be celebrated, honored and preserved forever,” says Pérez, who also is president of Spirit Music Miami. Child, who is president of his own publishing, production and management company, Deston Entertainment, adds: “La Musa Awards is now considered to be one of the most respected and coveted awards in the music industry as we honor the lifetime achievements of our honorees.”
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “Going out to dinner with my family and friends — even though I know I’ll still have to pick up the check.” - Child
President, Latin America and U.S. Latin, Universal Music Publishing Group
Lioutikoff has had a particularly productive 12 months, signing Bad Bunny — one of the top Latin artists of the year — as well as the catalogs from his label, Rimas Entertainment, and NEON16 (the label of hit producer Tainy and executive Lex Borrero). This, in addition to deals with international names like Brazil’s Marisa Monte and KondZilla, as well as the Netherlands’ Afro Bros, confirms Lioutikoff’s appetite for international collaborations. Songwriting and synch camps, organized by Lioutikoff’s team, have also yielded placements with FIFA, ESPN and a Target campaign. Most impressive: “For the first time in 15 years, UMPG Latin won ASCAP’s Latin publisher of the year award, which was huge for us,” says Lioutikoff, whose writers colected songwriter, artist and song of the year honors, a rare feat “we’re extremely proud of,” she adds.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “Global collaborations. It’s a trend that has been developing every year, and now in the age of Zoom, it’s here to stay. It’s only going to get more interesting.”
President/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Latin America & U.S. Latin
Sony/ATV is the leading music publisher credited on Maluma’s “Hawái,” the singer’s second Hot Latin Songs No. 1 and the first No. 1 on Billboard’s Global Excl. U.S. chart. The Colombian star is signed to Sony/ATV, along with the song’s producers and co-writers Keityn, The Rude Boyz, Edgar Barrera and Juan Camilo Vargas. They’re just a few Latin hitmakers represented by Sony/ATV, which also added Myke Towers, C. Tangana and Claudia Brant to its roster this year. Tainy, who has led the Latin Producers chart for 50 weeks, is also a Sony/ATV writer who contributed to the company’s recognition as both BMI’s and SESAC’s Latin publisher of the year. “The Latin music industry is currently at a moment of incredible opportunity, at the top of the charts all over the world, with no sign of slowing down,” says Mejia, 47. “Pandemic or not, this is a great moment to be a part of it.”
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “Sharing with people: whether in live concerts or at events. Also going to the gym and to the movies. Did I mention concerts?”
President, Warner Chappell Music, Latin America
Menéndez has been focused on signing and developing new talent including rising stars Lunay, Jhay Cortez and Rauw Alejandro, whose single “Tattoo” (with Camilo) is a global hit that reached No. 1 on Latin Airplay. Menéndez has also recognized the popularity of the new trap movement coming from his home country of Argentina, overseeing the signing of Duki, Trueno, Ca7riel & Paco Amoroso, Ecko and Neo Pistea. “It’s arguably the new rock — with socially charged lyrics and unlimited creativity, no boundaries,” he says.
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “Most of all, I can’t wait to travel freely again so I can visit my loved ones and hug them tight.”
Director of A&R, BMG
Under Ponce, 39, who joined the company a year ago, BMG has solidified its presence in Latin music by signing Paloma Mami (publishing administration) and Lito MC Cassidy (publishing and recording) while expanding the scope of its deals with a first-of-its-kind multimedia partnership with “Despacito” co-writer Erika Ender, which covers publishing administration, recordings, books and documentaries. Ponce’s deals have contributed to growing BMG’s Latin roster by 44%. That helped the company boost its share of Latin airplay by 125% on the way to 41% revenue growth year over year as Latin continues its crossover into the mainstream, according to the company.
The election in November is important because: “It is the most important election of our lifetime. Its results will have a lasting impact on human rights, the economy and our planet.
VP U.S. Latin and Latin America, membership, ASCAP
Not only were the 2020 ASCAP Latin Music Awards presented digitally on all of the PRO’s social media feeds in July, Gonzalez, 51, and her team also secured live-performance videos from Latin songwriters for ASCAP’s Summer Performance Festival, then booked Latin artists for the virtual version of ASCAP Experience: Home Edition, the organization’s annual mentoring event. “As we took our awards, Q&As and other programs to digital platforms,” says Gonzalez, “our songwriters and publishers have gained millions of impressions and significantly increased their social media presence.”
Crucial Latin music issue: “Personal financial challenges brought by the pandemic. We continue to work with other industry groups to lobby Congress for more aid to songwriters and other self-employed music creators.”
Manager, artist and label relations, SoundExchange
In April, SoundExchange announced that it had distributed over $7 billion in royalties to music creators since 2003; for 2020 alone, through the second quarter, the total is nearly $500 million. For his part, Limones, 34, has ensured that the company’s Latin affiliates receive their digital performance royalties from platforms like SiriusXM and iHeartRadio. In the past year, he has secured SoundExchange registration agreements for artists such as Rauw Alejandro, Natanael Cano and Cazzu. “I have also focused on ensuring that Latin indies such as Rich Music and Rimas Entertainment have learned to use our new tools to maximize their recorded-music revenue,” he says.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “I love seeing some of the biggest mainstream and media hits remixed in Spanish by some of Latin music’s biggest stars. Who would have ever thought of the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song done by J Balvin or ‘Baby Shark’ by Luis Fonsi? Crazy."
Executive director, creative, Latin music, BMI
At BMI’s Latin Music Awards, presented online in May, “we welcomed an elite list of 24 first-time winners, including Anuel AA and Brytiago,” says Mercado, 50. Last November, Mercado co-curated BMI’s Los Producers charity event, in association with Rebeleon Entertainment to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which raised $135,000, he says. During the past year Mercado also added BMI’s representation of writers and producers including Mala Rodríguez, Jona Camacho, and Mathew and Sebastian Otero, as well as the renegotiation of agreements with DJ Luian and DJ Blass.
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “I am planning to ride my motorcycle with friends on a cross-country trip from Florida to California. That will be a nice ride to reflect on life and write about the experience.”
Associate vp, SESAC
At the Latin Grammy Awards last November, SESAC songwriters earned 16 nominations, says Zendejas. Thanks to Nicky Jam, Christian Nodal and Manuel Turizo, in 2020 SESAC writers have already achieved a milestone 20 No. 1 songs on various Billboard charts, she says. SESAC has also welcomed to its membership ranks rising talents such as Paloma Mami, Lenny Tavárez and Mati Gómez in recent months. “Although it has been an incredibly challenging year,” says Zendejas, “we continue to garner success.”
Most exciting Latin music trend: “It’s not a trend, because it’s here to stay. I am overwhelmingly excited about Latin music’s continued global success. Latin music is now mainstream."
Global head of Latin music, Apple Music
“I am committed to bringing up-and-coming artists to the attention of Latin music fans around the world,” says D’Cunha. To achieve that goal, she says, Apple Music recently launched several new playlists, including Nuevo Nuevo and La Nueva Grasa, “to highlight breaking songs that are bubbling up and might otherwise get overlooked amid music from more established artists,” she says. Apple also added two Latino radio shows, J Balvin’s Ma G Radio on Apple Music 1 and La Fórmula with Ángel “El Guru” Vera. “Apple Music Radio has become an important vehicle for Latin artists to connect directly with fans by sharing their stories and talking about their music and influences,” says D’Cunha.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Latin music will not have reached its full potential until female artists are as recognized and celebrated as their male counterparts. We must do everything we can as an industry to develop, support and nurture women in Latin music.”
Henrique Fares Leite
Head of music industry relations, Latin America, ByteDance
Working for TikTok parent company ByteDance, Fares Leite, 38, introduced “hundreds” of professionals in the Latin music industry to the short-form video app, he says, in an effort to make TikTok “the top promotional tool for Latin music.” It’s working: Colombian singer-songwriter Camilo promoted his July remix of Rauw Alejandro’s “Tattoo” with a dance challenge, and the remix has been used in 2.8 million TikTok videos. Meanwhile, up-and-coming Mexican artist Leon Leiden invited his 2 million followers to contribute ideas to his single “Gitana,” which has surpassed 7.8 million Spotify plays. Now, says Fares Leite, Latin America is one of TikTok’s “most important regions worldwide.”
Most exciting Latin music trend: “The fusions between genres such as reggaetón, Brazilian funk and trap with other different local music genres such as regional Mexican and sertanejo is exciting. This should intensify as older audiences start to consume music through streaming platforms and then influence the charts even more.”
Global head of Latin, Amazon Music
In September, Amazon launched Amazon Music LAT!N, a brand that includes over 100 new and revamped playlists, an emerging-artist program, merchandise, videos and multiple catalog programs. Setting itself apart from other streaming services, Amazon Music LAT!N will work across other Amazon services “like Twitch and Prime Video,” says Guerrero, who assumed the newly created position of global head of Latin music in January. “We can do things 360. It’s unparalleled, and it will live within the Amazon.com ecosystem.”
Crucial Latin music issue: “Streaming has allowed Latin music to rise to the top. We as an industry need to use this moment and momentum to show the world how diverse and beautiful and different Latin music is. It’s not one genre.”
Head of music partnerships, Latin America, YouTube/Google Play
AJ “El Kallejero” Ramos
Artist relations manager, YouTube Music
YouTube Latin America continues to build its subscription business, says Jimenez, driven by high-profile content such as the “astonishing” YouTube Music Nights with Lizzo, recorded at the company’s own studio in Rio de Janeiro, and Bad Bunny’s Artist Spotlight Stories series. With touring shut down, YouTube has hosted livestreams and special concert events for acts including Rauw Alejandro (14 million-plus views), Ozuna (1.5 million) and Maluma (1.5 million), according to the service.
The election in November is important because: “Change begins with us, and things can get so much worse if we don’t vote. This country was built on immigrants. We need to show the power and unity of Black and brown communities.” - Ramos
Head of Latin music, Pandora
Head of Latin talent, Pandora
Juárez, 41, guided Pandora’s launch of Afro-Latino stations that highlight the contributions made to Latin music by the African diaspora in the Americas. The stations, which showcase classic and contemporary music from hundreds of artists and songs from their respective countries, include Afro Colombia, Afro Boricua, Afro Cuba and Afro Quisqueya. Pandora’s El Pulso station, which Juárez helped launch in 2018, has had a 244% increase in listenership since January. Olvera, 33, oversaw flagship subscriber events across Pandora and SiriusXM, working to generate exclusive content from over 150 artists. She also curated eight live subscriber events and one digital subscriber event, and presented Pandora Billionaires plaques — for achieving 1 billion streams — to acts including Romeo Santos, Maná, Farruko, Prince Royce, Ozuna and Bad Bunny.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “There is going to be a real renaissance for tropical music. I am excited to see all the innovation coming out of the Caribbean — Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama.” - Juárez
Managing director, Latin America, Spotify
Monica Herrera Damashek
Head of U.S. Latin, artist label partnerships North America, Spotify
Head of artist label partnerships, Latin America, Spotify
Rising Latin artists from Spotify’s RADAR program like Trueno, recurring playlist artists like Nicki Nicole and a new podcast by J Balvin, Made in Medellín, helped the streaming service achieve 33% year-over-year growth in monthly active users in Latin America, as of the second quarter of 2020, says Nygren. (That compares to 29% worldwide.) As of June 30, the Latin American region accounts for 21% of global subscribers. “Superstars are now coming from all corners of Latin America, even deep down south,” she adds. “Smaller artists are charting globally, and it’s not just limited to Puerto Rico and Colombia anymore.”
Crucial Latin music issue: “How to rethink and reimagine new ways to monetize consumption now that live-performance revenue is down to almost zero." - Nygren
Raúl Alarcón Jr.
Chairman/CEO, Spanish Broadcasting System
COO, Spanish Broadcasting System
Executive vp programming, Spanish Broadcasting System
SBS’ radio stations already had strong ratings before the pandemic. By late spring, they “skyrocketed,” says Alarcón, with the company’s flagship New York station, WSKQ (Mega 97.9 FM), ranking No. 1 among all outlets in the tri-state area in key audience demographics, regardless of language, according to Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 Portable People Meter survey. SBS also pivoted with its launch of livestream series Mi Casa Es Tu Casa, which has featured acts like Maluma, Banda MS and Sebastián Yatra, and in September, Rodríguez inaugurated MegaTV’s first Orlando, Fla., station, continuing a pattern of growth for SBS’ TV division. “The power, positivism and universality of Latin music has been proven yet again,” says Alarcón.
Crucial Latin music issue: “Latin music is more popular than country music in the U.S. What it means is that Latin music artists and Hispanics are extremely influential in this country." - Rodriguez
VP programming, Latin music, SiriusXM
Director of Latin music programming, SiriusXM
Guiding the content of 14 Latin channels playing the genre’s core styles as well as offshoots in rock, jazz and more, Cólón pivoted during the coronavirus outbreak to intimate en casa sessions with artists, a DJ set from Tito “El Bambino” and Carlos Vives, and a Sofa Session performance from Manuel Medrano. Pino has hosted and created some 30 special programs featuring guests such as Maná and Carlos Vives, including over 10 online sessions. He created Tu Lucha, Es Mi Lucha as a platform where artists have taken on topics including racism and discrimination.
Most exciting Latin music trend: “Reggaetón and urban Latin music are today’s global mainstream music. Major acts are looking to do collaborations with Latin acts.” - Pino
Head of music label partnerships, Latin America, Facebook
Alvaro de Torres Zabala
Latin America music publishing development manager, Facebook
Harley is responsible for Facebook’s and Instagram’s relationships with labels throughout Latin America, as well as U.S. Latin labels, and guided the launch of music products in 17 territories including Brazil and Mexico. With tours shut down by the coronavirus, he supported the creation of sponsored livestreams on Facebook for acts including Reik, Ozuna and Mau y Ricky. Zabala played a role in the social media battle of 2020: globally dominant Facebook vs. ultra-popular upstart TikTok. He worked with music publishers and performing rights organizations throughout Latin America for the Aug. 5 launch of Reels, a TikTok-like feature on Facebook-owned Instagram.
What he’s looking forward to after the pandemic: “The ability to visit our partners in Miami, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bogotá [Colombia]; to have conversations face-to-face and to regain eye contact; going to live shows; and sharing a drink and a meal.” - Zabala
President of radio, Univision
VP content, industry and affiliate relations, Univision
Senior vp entertainment and music, Univision
Ismar Santa Cruz
VP/managing director, radio strategy, Univision
Under Lara, Univision Radio has pivoted from traditional in-person concerts to livestreams. Three million fans tuned in for the original six-week run of Univision’s Uforia Hangout sessions. But the biggest coup was Bad Bunny’s livestream from a roving vehicle in Manhattan seen by over 10 million. Univision’s TV network has played a significant role in Latin music’s surge into the mainstream, tailoring segments of specials like Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home and the multisponsored Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 specifically for the Univision audience with Latin talent. The network also presented Premios Juventud, the first live music awards show during the pandemic, reimagined and produced with under 20% of the venue’s production capacity, yet reaching 5.2 million in a four-hour broadcast. “We have remained committed to bringing our audience a much-needed sense of escapism via music and the sense of unity and purpose that music has provided,” says Meyer, 43.
The election in November is important because: “This year for the first time in history Latinos are the largest minority with eligible voters, so we must make sure to make our voices heard.” - Meyer
Chairman/chief creative officer, iHeartLatino; on-air personality, iHeartRadio
Pedro Javier Gonzalez
Senior vp programming, iHeartLatino
Santos and Gonzalez have led iHeartMedia’s deep plunge into Latin music, contributing to the genre’s mainstream takeover. “Digitally, Latin artists continuously top the charts worldwide, proving that Latin music is much more than a [temporary] phenomenon,” says Santos. A partnership between iHeartRadio and Puerto Rico’s UNO Radio Group has given the island’s audience access to content and programming such as the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina in Miami and the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. The company has “prioritized our Spanish-language and Hispanic-focus podcasting offerings,” says Santos.
What the social climate means for Latin music: “Credible Latino voices this year have stepped up to the mic in a big way. Some have released specific songs addressing these issues, such as Rafa Pabón’s ‘Sin Aire’ [“Without Air”], which directly references social injustices with minorities in the United States.” - Santos
Executive vp, primetime nonscripted programming and specials, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
While the coronavirus shut down conventional TV production, Suárez and his team at Telemundo were able to employ “rigorous COVID-19 prevention measures that allowed us to go back to shooting shows like La Voz and Exatlón Estados Unidos,” he says, with the programs returning in July. “We have taken various measures including requiring masks, temperature checks and deep cleaning of our spaces.” On Oct. 21, Telemundo will air the Billboard Latin Music Awards live from Miami.
What the social climate means for Latin music: “As a community we must stand together and continue pushing our music forward with a theme of inclusivity and tolerance.
CONTRIBUTORS: Trevor Anderson, Katie Bain, Alexei Barrionuevo, Dave Brooks, Pamela Bustios, Ed Christman, Tatiana Cirisano, Leila Cobo, Stephen Daw, Griselda Flores, Gab Ginsberg, Josh Glicksman, Paul Grein, Lyndsey Havens, Steve Knopper, Carl Lamarre, Joe Levy, Joe Lynch, Taylor Mims, Gail Mitchell, Mia Nazareno, Melinda Newman, Glenn Peoples, Jessica Roiz, Dan Rys, Andrew Unterberger, Nick Williams, Xander Zellner
METHODOLOGY: Billboard power lists are chosen by Billboard editors. Nominations for each power list open not less than 120 days in advance of publication. (For our editorial calendar listing publication dates, please email thom.duffy@ billboard.com.) The online nomination link is sent to press representatives and/or honorees of companies previously featured on any Billboard power list, as well as those who send a request before the nomination period to thom.duffy@billboard. com. Nominations close and lists are locked not less than 90 days before publication. Billboard’s Latin Power Players for 2020 were chosen by editors based on factors including, but not limited to, nominations by peers, colleagues and superiors. In addition to nominations, editors weigh the success of each executive’s company or affiliated artists as measured by chart, sales and streaming performance. Career trajectory and industry impact are also considered. Unless otherwise noted, Billboard Boxscore and Nielsen Music/MRC Data are the sources for tour grosses and sales/streaming data, respectively. Nielsen is also the source for radio audience metrics. Unless otherwise noted, album streaming figures cited represent collective U.S. on-demand audio totals for an album’s tracks, and song/artist streaming figures represent U.S. on-demand audio and video totals.