As overall sales of Latin music have declined, the top-selling subgenre of regional Mexican has remained less vulnerable, thanks in part to a vital touring circuit and a plethora of genre-related radio stations. These days, though, that vulnerability is increasing, thanks to a decline in immigration, a weaker economy and an increased lack of industry-wide artist development that is affecting even regional Mexican.
"There are no new stars being developed," concert promoter Pedro Zamora says. "No records are being sold. Before, stars like Los Tigres del Norte and Banda el Recodo sold millions of copies. Now, a group that sells 100,000 copies is a major hit."
Alarmed by the situation, Zamora and fellow promoters at Promotores Unidos, the association of regional Mexican concert professionals, have launched a committee to develop new talent and promote current music. "We want to once again create popular acts that can become major stars," Zamora says.
Promotores Unidos comprises more than 100 members who are promoters and/or managers, a common double duty in Mexico, and typically responsible for promoting and supporting both established and developing acts.
It's extraordinary that this new committee -- the biggest of its kind in the country -- has declared a state of emergency that requires an intervention. If the results prove positive, however, it could be a path others should follow. "It just wasn't necessary before," Zamora says. In a statement, Promotores called the initiative "an extraordinary joint challenge. If every member, from his or her individual platform, supports the initiative, the results can be tremendously positive."
Promotores' initiative will release a promotional, 12-track CD every three months, with featured songs ranked by a committee that auditions dozens of entries. The tracks will then be promoted to radio stations as well as other media and venues handled or owned by Promotores members, including TV stations, clubs and websites. The track listing from its first CD, announced two weeks ago, includes new and established acts -- from major acts signed to major labels (Conjunto Primavera) to major artists signed to indies (Diana Reyes) to up-and-Âcomers (Las Valenzuela).
Promotores has also begun to sign acts to management contracts, with former El Recodo singer Alex Villarreal the first to ink such a deal. Unlike deals struck with individual members, however, Promotores can't pocket money from any agreements because it's a nonprofit. Instead, any returns will be reinvested in promotion, with individual members benefiting from shows that artists book at their venues. "We want to go back to a time when groups became successful, and via special promotions were even more successful," Zamora says.
Having promoters act as managers isn't unusual in Latin music, but what is unusual is having a powerful group of people with this much clout pushing acts on radio and other media. Time will tell how these new acts develop.