Pure Reggaeton Fest fiasco prompts action
Madrid City Council is creating a “festival table” committee as it bids to avoid a repeat of the circumstances that led to the 11th hour cancellation of the Madrid Pura Reggaeton Festival last weekend.
The initiative, which will launch in September, will gather festival promoters to discuss the obstacles facing the sector and work with the authorities to ensure that festivals can be held “in a coordinated and safe manner”.
It follows the controversy over the two-day Madrid Pura Reggaeton, which was due to welcome around 40,000 fans to the Spanish capital last weekend but was pulled 24 hours before show time following a late venue change. Security measures and documentation presented by organisers were deemed to “not meet the necessary requirements”.
“It has been months and months of work, fighting against the clock until the end but, unfortunately, it has not been possible to reach an agreement to carry out this event,” said a statement by promoters.
Just two days before the festival was slated to start at Caja Mágica, it was announced it was being upgraded to the larger Wanda Metropolitano stadium to “gain stage space and improve public transport connectivity”. However, despite the minimum application period being one month, organisers reportedly only applied for a new permit last Monday (July 11) – leaving them out of time.
“We trusted that the Community was going to be flexible in terms of deadlines”
“We didn’t announce the change until Wednesday the 13th because we didn’t want to be arrogant and get ahead of the permits,” festival spokesperson Ibai Cereijo tells El Pais. “When on the 13th only fringes were missing, we decided to announce it, because we were 48 hours from the start.
“Yes, I acknowledge that we have delivered the documentation on security and emergency plans after the deadline. That is undeniable if the beginning of a new file is considered and all the paperwork done for La Caja Mágica is not valued. We trusted that the Community was going to be flexible in terms of deadlines, since we had been working with them since La Caja Mágica. But it has not been that way.”
Ticket sales picked up significantly following the announcement that festival headliner Daddy Yankee was retiring from music, prompting the decision to change of venue. Gente De Zona, Nengo Flow, Omar Montes, Bad, Eladio, Juan and Natti were among other artists scheduled to appear at the event.
“We realised that perhaps the parking area[outdoors] of La Caja Mágica was not prepared to welcome so many people,” adds Cereijo. “It was not a problem of capacity, which is 39,000. There are other variables that are taken into account to hinder the celebration of such a massive event. There were other drawbacks, such as a narrow path to the concert area of about 600 meters that was prone to blockages. Evacuation by road was also complicated, in addition to the lack of public transport.
“Until June we could not see all this on the ground. The administration put in a lot of objections and someone suggested the Wanda. So we planned it there, which is more used to organising massive events and brings in 65,000 people every two Sundays.”
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Baja Beach Fest, Lolla to launch Latin Reggaeton weekender
Sueños Music Festival (Dreams Music Festival) will be the largest Latin Reggaeton music event to ever take place in Grant Park in the heart of downtown Chicago.
The two-day, one-stage event will feature headliners J Balvin, Ozuna, and Wisin & Yandel, with performances from Myke Towers, El Alfa, Jhay Cortez, Sech, Fuerza Regida and more over Memorial Day weekend, 28 and 29 May.
The festival will be J Balvin’s only Chicago appearance in 2022 and his first time performing in the city since his iconic set at Lollapalooza in 2019, and Reggaeton star Ozuna’s first performance in Chicago in four years. Wisin & Yandel, meanwhile, will deliver one of their last-ever performances at Sueños, as part of their final tour, ‘La Ultima Mision’.
“Reggaetón is a massive genre but remains underserved by live festivals in the US”
“We’re honoured to work with the producers of Lollapalooza and Reventon to bring a premier Latin festival to Grant Park in Chicago,” says Baja Beach Fest’s Aaron Ampudia. “Reggaetón is a massive genre but remains underserved by live festivals in the US. We’re extremely proud to expand to the US and serve our community and everyone who enjoys Latin music. Chicago, estén listos para perrear.”
Reventon Promotions’ Enrique Medrano adds: “Over a decade ago, I started Reventon Promotions with a dream of bringing authentic and diverse Hispanic entertainment to Chicago. Now I am excited and proud to be part of the first Sueños festival, an event that celebrates the Hispanic presence in the city, in addition to being held in the iconic and representative Grant Park right in the heart of downtown. What better place is there for thousands of people from different Latin American countries to meet, share, and celebrate with artists of the likes of J Balvin, Ozuna, and many more.”
Lollapalooza Chicago is due to return to Grant Park between 28–31 July, while Baja Beach fest will return to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, for a third edition between 12–14 and 19–21 August.
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Move’s Bad Bunny stadium show sells out fast
Bad Bunny’s highly anticipated hometown shows at Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium sold out in less than 20 minutes, promoters Move Concerts and Noah Assad Presents have revealed.
The urban sensation’s P Fkn R show, rescheduled from May 2020, went on sale on Friday (20 August) and sold out soon after. The concerts, which take place at the 18,000-seat stadium on 10 and 11 December, will be Puerto Rico-born Bad Bunny’s first shows this year.
P Fkn R is the first announced show of a new partnership between Miami-based Move Concerts, which has an office in Puerto Rico, and Noah Assad, whose Rimas Music represents some of the world’s biggest reggaeton artists.
Everyone attending the P Fkn R show will be required to present proof of vaccination
Everyone attending the 10 and 11 December shows, which have a capacity of 35,000 each, will be required to present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.
The Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the island’s largest, has previously hosted concerts by the likes Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Rihanna, Shakira, Sting and Whitney Houston, in addition to its regular use as a baseball park.
Multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy-winner Bad Bunny will follow up the show with a world tour, El Último Tour del Mundo 2022, which kicks off on 9 February 2022 at the Ball Arena (20,000-cap.) in Denver, Colorado.
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¡Olé! Industry experts on Latin music’s inexorable rise
Madison Square Garden, NYC’s legendary venue, has borne witness to just about everything over the years: debauchery, madness and all manner of weird and wonderful stage shows. But until J Balvin rocked up this September for an eagerly anticipated sold-out show, it had never played host to enormous, inflatable, pop-art sculptures, a squadron of puffy, bouncy mascots that looked like sentient clouds, or a singer riding across the stage on a huge yellow duck.
“¡Por la cultura!” (“for culture!”), he declared, before departing, raucous applause and calls for another encore ringing in his ears. It was yet another milestone in the reggaetonero’s meteoric rise to arenas and the top of the charts, and something of a dream for the Colombian star. But then Latin music – música urbana – is enjoying a surge in popularity all over the globe and giving birth to a new generation of superstars.
Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper, sold out MSG back in April; Rosalía, the Spanish singer who combines flamenco with pop, has taken Europe by storm. “I believe we are experiencing the best time for Latin music ever,” says Dody Sirena, a founding partner of DC Set Group, one of Brazil’s biggest promoters.
“If you look at the 2019 RIAA mid-year report, you’ll see that Latin music is continuing to grow at a double-digit pace.”
Henry Cárdenas, CEO of the Cárdenas Marketing Network and the recently crowned Billboard Latin Power Player Executive of the Year for 2019, agrees. “Latin American music is the fastest-growing genre in the world, and it has a tremendous commercial force,” he says. “We have witnessed general market artists venturing into the Latin American market, which continues to expand and pique mass appeal.”
música urbana is enjoying a surge in popularity all over the globe and giving birth to a new generation of superstars
That’s an observation echoed by Nelson Albareda, CEO of Miami-based sports and entertainment operation Loud and Live: “Latin music has quickly become the fastest-growing genre in the global market,” he says. “As it pertains to Latin America, genres such as reggaeton, cumbia, bachata and merengue dominate in major markets including Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.”
That mass appeal means that the genre is “more popular globally than ever before,” according to booking agent Jeremy Norkin of United Talent Agency (UTA). UTA is home to both longstanding Latin music stars such as Pitbull and Sean Paul, and break-out artists like Lali, and Norkin notes that “Latin music has gained a strong presence among multi-genre events that previously haven’t featured the genre.
“For example, Spanish-speaking talent had a significantly larger footprint at 2019’s Lollapalooza festivals in South America.”
The absolute biggest artists remain those who came to prominence during the late-nineties ‘Latin explosion’ – household names who long ago crossed over to ubiquity (think Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Enrique Iglesias). But a new generation of musical talent is selling out arenas in Latin America and beyond while racking up staggering streaming numbers and video views; J Balvin and Bad Bunny are just the tip of the iceberg.
Ozuna, Maluma, Luis Fonsi, Becky G, Manuel Turizo and Sech are the most common names cited as representing the future.
A new generation of musical talent is selling out arenas while racking up staggering streaming numbers and video views
“They have tremendous talent,” says Cárdenas, of the latter three in particular, “and they are leading the way for a new generation of stars.”
“Ozuna, Lunay, and Rosalía” are Phil Rodríguez’s choice regarding those ready to ascend to the next level internationally. But Rodríguez, founder of Move Concerts, also notes that it can vary from country to country; in Puerto Rico, for example, trap and reggaeton stars top the charts, while in the USA it’s a more balanced mix of urban acts.
Albareda, whose company recently agreed a deal with Rodríguez’s promoting powerhouse Move Concerts, cites Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Pitbull, Maluma, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Romeo Santos, Karol G, Nicky Jam, Farruko, Becky G and Natti Natasha as some of the genre’s biggest stars.
Fernando Moya, of Buenos Aires-based Ozono Producciones cites Maluma, Sebastian Yatra and Tini as his picks, but states, “Paulo Londra, Duki, Wos, Louta and other trap artists are pushing and changing the music charts, having more listeners than pop, reggaeton and Latin music.”
While Latin music has always enjoyed a certain level of popularity – Bruno Del Granado, an agent at Creative Artists Agency, points to Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine “blowing the door wide open globally” in the 70s and 80s – Cárdenas points to successes by “the Godfathers, Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam” as opening the floodgates more recently.
“I believe we are experiencing the best time for Latin music ever”
Bad Bunny, too. “You could say he is a poster child for the movement,” says Cárdenas.
And then there’s ‘Despacito’ (which, ironically, translates to “slowly” in English). The song, released in January 2017, was a phenomenon; the official video now has over 6.4 billion views on YouTube, and over 2bn streams on Spotify. It was also the first track primarily sung in a language other than English to pass the billion mark, a game changer that signified a paradigm shift – no longer was an English-language version a necessity for artists looking for hits abroad.
‘Despacito’ also underscored a change in consumer and listening habits. In this brave new world, streams outrank sales and power a model where singles, or a constant flow of new material, matter way more than the narrative and commercial build-up around traditional album campaigns.
Much like in the world of rap and hip-hop, Latin music’s rise has mirrored that of technology and social media, platforms that today’s savvy stars know how to game to their advantage.
“YouTube is the platform of choice for consumers of Latin music,” argues Michel Vega, CEO and founder of Magnus Media, a global management and representative company. “If you look at the top 25 videos globally on any given week, a disproportionate amount will be Latin music.”
“Look at Nicky Jam or Bad Bunny – before, it would have taken an artist years to gain that kind of traction”
Moya believes that radio’s local language format historically held back Latin repertoire. “Digital platforms changed the market, as the audience started to choose what to listening and not just what the radio plays,” he says.
“Before, radio [stations] only played music in English and the native language of the country – they did not experiment with new varieties or styles of music or artists of different countries, regions or cultures. Now, there are no limits. On the contrary, consumers are able to reach random options based on their tastes and have the possibility to discover new types of music, new artist, whatever they want.”
Cárdenas agrees. “Streaming has changed the landscape of the industry for new artists, as these methods of distribution make for easier consumption for the listener. Look at Nicky Jam or Bad Bunny – before, it would have taken an artist years to gain that kind of traction.”
And, as Norkin notes, while word of mouth has always been key, “the difference is that today there are a wide variety of platforms that allow recommendations to be communicated instantaneously and on a massive scale.”
“They have more options than ever to become very popular as an independent”
Such a shift has also seen the new breed of stars ripping up the rulebook and essentially creating new norms as they go. Traditional routes to the top are not as relevant, and artists know their worth.
“Most of them are not interested in advances, 360 deals or traditional media,” says Sirena. “They have more options than ever to become very popular as an independent through distributors or with a major.”
Norkin notes that within this brave new world, some artists got their start – and continue to operate – as their own publishers, record labels and producers. “Many of them even own their own masters,” he says.
A DIY ethic is also strong. While bigger stars still tap into traditional record label systems, Del Granado believes that many new talents “are cognisant that we’re living in a DIY world and so need to do things themselves. From recording to shooting videos to handling social media, they have become masters of their domain.”
Romeo Santos breaks records at 80k+ MetLife stadium
Bachata star Romeo Santos became the first Latin artist to headline – and sell out – the 82,500-capacity MetLife stadium in New Jersey on Saturday (21 September).
The Live Nation-promoted show was the highest grossing concert in the stadium’s history, breaking the record previously held by Irish rockers U2.
Special guests including Cardi B, reggaeton stars Ozuna and Wisin and Yandel and fellow Bachata artists Raulin Rodriguez, El Chaval and Zacarias Ferreira, as well as members from Santos’ former band Aventura, joined the singer onstage during his 22-track, four-hour performance.
“Romeo Santos has solidified himself as one of the greatest Latin artists of the generation with his historic MetLife show”
“Romeo Santos has solidified himself as one of the greatest Latin artists of the generation with his historic MetLife show,” comments Hans Schafer, head of Live Nation Latin. “This feat continues to show the power of Latin artists in the touring space and is a proud moment for Live Nation.”
The show celebrated Santos’ most recent album Utopia, which debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums list when released in April.
In 2014, Santos became the first Latin solo artist to headline a concert at New York’s 54,250-capacity Yankee Stadium.
Managing the Latin explosion: Rebeca León Q&A
Update: the quotation “I am the only female executive I know” appeared in a previous edition of this article. Rebeca León did not use these words, IQ apologises for the misunderstanding.
With over 20 years in the business, Rebeca León is a pioneer in the Latin music space, initiating the career of hit reggaeton artist J Balvin and managing fast-rising Spanish star Rosalía.
Having served as senior vice president of Latin talent at AEG, León is now chief executive of her own management company, Lionfish Entertainment, which she founded along with Colombian musician Juanes.
As Latin music continues to gain more traction across the globe, IQ catches up with León to find out the secrets behind her success, discuss the sometimes male-dominated Latin music business and gain insight into the potential of Rosalía’s Flamenco-infused rhythms.
IQ: Why Latin music?
RL: I think it was a combination of my own cultural background – I was born to Cuban parents in Miami and grew up with the culture – and good timing. I moved back to Miami after college and there were lots of Latin labels around. I started working at Sony Music Latin in 1998 in the midst of a crossover track explosion, so it was a really exciting time to be involved in Latin music.
You really grew the profile of Latin music in LA and across the US during your tenure at AEG, can you tell us a bit more about your time there?
I was at AEG for eleven years. I was hired to book the then Nokia Theatre (now 7,100-cap. Microsoft Theatre) at entertainment complex LA Live.
The idea was to bring Latin shows to that venue. Before, Latin artists were only really playing New York and Miami and I was asking myself why. We became the headquarters for Latin music in LA and I was the only promoter in the company that could really book Latin shows around the whole country.
AEG were really great to me, they gave me huge wings and plenty of opportunities to grow. Latin music and, in particular, reggaeton music, began reaching new markets across the whole of the United States.
“Latin artists were only really playing New York and Miami and I was asking myself why”
Why did you decide to make the move to setting up your own management company?
I think going into management was the natural next step for me. I was lucky to have had experience with record labels, promoters and management previously, so I was able to see the whole thing and apply all that knowledge through being a manager. It seemed like an amazing opportunity to be up close to people I really respected – the artists – it was always something that I wanted to do and it felt like a privilege to do so.
I really love being creative and managing allowed me to be in a more collaborative relationship with the artist, rather than just inheriting something. I could be on the inside of the long term strategy – setting goals and creating paths – and that was very attractive for me.
It reminds me of when I started working with J Balvin and we both believed he would be a global superstar. We put a strategy together from the very beginning in order to make it happen. That was a very exciting time.
You’re now managing Spanish singer Rosalía who has a very different sound to other Latin artists – is this signalling a new direction for Latin music?
I think Rosalía is super special. An artist like that only comes around once every 50 years. What people are responding to is the authenticity of her very unique take on music. She produces and writes at least in part all her own songs – it’s all her. This is difficult to replicate, so I can’t say this type of music will become a trend. This is more about finding a truly unique and talented artist.
In general, there are still more male than female artists having more success industry-wide and particularly in Latin music, how can this be tackled?
The Latin world is notoriously machista, just as every culture has its challenges, one way or another. It’s not going to happen from one day to the next, but we do have more female artists in the Latin music space now – Becky G, Greeicy [Rendón], Anitta.
All of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of girls appearing, but I know it’s not enough. However, I do feel that people are aware and conscious of the imbalance and are starting to make strategic decision to create more opportunities for women in general.
“An artist like Rosalía only comes around once every 50 years”
What has your own experience been like as a female executive in the industry?
I am happy to be a woman in the industry – even if sometimes I am the only girl in the room. I try to be smart about the way I do business and it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, this is the most important thing.
I’m 100% aware that we need more positions for women. Professor Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, has put together a study of women across the industry as a whole, and the numbers are really astounding.
We need to inform ourselves of these imbalances and shine a light on the women who are having success in the industry and make sure they get the recognition they deserve. The conversation needs to be about empowering and educating women on how to talk about money and power, and how to handle difficult situations. We need to give women the tools they need to succeed.
What’s next for Lionfish Entertainment?
Rosalía is one of the most incredible artists I have ever encountered. It’s so exciting and beautiful what’s happening there, so I want to make sure we support her as much as possible.
Aside from that, I’m working on some film and TV projects. That’s the focus for us really in 2020 – not letting this cultural movement be just about music – I want to make Latin content across all media.
From reggaeton to trap: Behind the global Latin boom
Popular Latin American artists have gained greater visibility on the international stage in recent years. Now, extensive touring in Europe and the US are bringing Latin acts closer to their fans.
Ease of streaming and high-profile crossover tracks with prominent anglophone artists have catapulted Latin stars into the limelight over the past few years.
“In the last year we’ve seen a lot more Spanish-only or Spanish-language features in our charts, including Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ featuring Justin Bieber, Cardi B’s ‘I Like It’, songs from J Balvin, Bad Bunny and many more,” Catherine Fournier, director of marketing at lyric licensing company, LyricFind, tells IQ.
Data supplied to IQ by analytics service, PEX, shows Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ as the most watched video uploaded to YouTube in 2017, with almost six billion views. Indeed, Latin music makes up five of the top ten videos uploaded that year, with hits by J Balvin, Ozuna and Maluma all making it into the top spots.
The newfound popularity of Latin artists is translating into the live music arena. Shakira, Romeo Santos and Marc Anthony all played extensive US tours last year. Nicky Jam will tour the US in 2019, as well as Latin trap artists Bad Bunny and Anuel AA.
Demand is growing across non-Spanish speaking Europe, too. J Balvin’s European live revenue quadrupled following the success of his single ‘Mi Gente’. The reggaeton star will this year appear at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival and The Ends Festival in Croydon, UK.
Elsewhere, Enrique Iglesias will play arenas in Germany, Switzerland and Spain this year, while Spanish Latin pop star Pablo Alborán will make his London debut with a Royal Albert Hall show on 3 March. Latin boy band CNCO will also embark on a European tour this summer, playing in the UK, Spain, Benelux, Switzerland and France.
“Not only are fans hearing their favourite artists sing in another language, but they’re connecting with them in a different way”
Reggaeton, a form of popular dance music fusing Latin rhythms, reggae, dancehall and hip hop, has traditionally been the most commercially dominant and internationally visible wing of popular Latin hip hop. The genre has launched global stars such as Don Omar, Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi.
“Reggaeton and rap are inherently intertwined,” says Fournier. “As rap and hip hop are now becoming more mainstream, and more popular, it’s inevitable that reggaeton would follow suit.”
J Balvin became the first reggaeton artist to play on the Coachella main stage last year after Beyoncé asked the Colombian to join her for a cameo. “This is for the Latinos, and for the world,” the reggaeton star posted on Instagram following the performance.
However, gritty Latin trap has recently overtaken reggaeton in popularity, responding to shifts in US rap and taking on the slower rhythms of southern hip hop. Latin trap pioneer Anuel AA recently teamed up with Nicky Minaj on crossover ‘Familia’, which appeared on the soundtrack for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, expanding the trap artist’s international reputation.
The popularity of Spanish-language crossovers is also growing, with the help of stars such as Demi Lovato (‘Échame La Culpa’, Luis Fonsi), Cardi B (‘I Like It’, Bad Bunny and J Balvin) and Drake (‘Mia’, Bad Bunny).
As non-Spanish speaking listeners become more familiar with Latin artists and more accustomed to hearing music in a different language, the demand for Latin artists’ tours continues to grow, concludes Fournier.
“Not only are fans hearing their favourite artists sing in another language, but they’re connecting with them in a different way, and going the extra mile to understand what they’re saying,” she says. “That, in turn, leads to more understanding and exposure to music performed in other languages.”