14-year-old music veteran assembles a "dream team" to expand his empire
Miguelito may only be 14, but he's already a veteran of the music business. The Puerto Rican singer, who recently signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), will release his eighth album early next year. He has won a Latin Grammy Award and sold millions of dollars' worth of merchandise. And if he has it his way, the next phase of his career is going to be even bigger.
On a recent Saturday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, Miguelito stood in front of about a dozen dancers in an alley as cameras rolled. The splashy and colorful set was part of a music video for his new single, "Party Non Stop," off his upcoming album, "Here to Stay," which is scheduled for release in January and will take the teen singer beyond his reggaeton roots.
"It's been an amazing journey," says Miguelito, who started singing at age 6. "I've been doing this most of my life. Nothing is easy in life. You've got to work hard."
Miguelito's growing visibility and established fan base led executives at BlastMusic to sign him in early 2013. The Los Angeles-based company, which specializes in marketing, is expanding into a label and launching a Latin division that is being spearheaded by longtime industry veteran Rogelio Macin, who is overseeing Miguelito's new phase. (BlastMusic has also signed Panamanian rock band Los Rabanes.)
Before Miguelito was signed, Macin says, "I told [BlastMusic CEO] Ralph [Tashjian] that we had an opportunity to invest our time and expertise into this guy."
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Macin knew that in order to take Miguelito to the next level the approach would have to be strategic, especially in terms of making the teen a priority in the general market with an English-language release.
"Then we started brainstorming and thought that it wasn't fair for him to forget about his Latin background," Macin says. "If you log into his social media [which includes nearly 300,000 Twitter followers] he's got relevance there, but it's in the Latin market. We needed to go back into the studio and create some bilingual versions of the music to work both worlds."
When Miguelito signed with BlastMusic in February, according to Macin, it was done as a 360 deal, which includes merchandising, live performances and sponsorships.
Veteran music executive Russ Regan, known for launching the careers of the Beach Boys, Elton John and Neil Diamond, introduced Miguelito to Tashjian. From the moment Tashjian heard the music, he was hooked. Music producer Andrew Lane, known for his work on the "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana" soundtracks, was also attached.
"It's like having a dream team," Tashjian says. "After hearing the music and knowing that Andrew Lane was involved, it was like the pieces of a puzzle coming together."
Miguelito, who is repped by his father, Wascar Valenzuela, has already become a powerful brand, especially in Puerto Rico, with a clothing line, videogame, summer camp, party goods line and other products. According to Valenzuela, Miguelito has sold $70 million in merchandising to date, and more ventures are on the way, including a line of products throughout the United States called H20 that will include watches.
Miguelito, who recently moved to Los Angeles with his family to pursue TV roles, is being positioned to further expand his empire with his move to CAA. Lane, who describes the singer's new sound as Latino hip-hop/pop, says his client is moving in the right direction.
"I see longevity in Miguelito," Lane says. "He's a leader and knows what he wants. I also see loyalty, and that means a lot. He can be an ambassador to be a great entertainer on a global level."