Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Gocho (real name: José Torres) has had a long, slow-building career, culminating this week with an impressive milestone: His single "Si Te Digo la Verdad" (If I Tell You the Truth) has reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart.
It's been a somewhat erratic climb. Gocho's romantic merengue managed to rise to No. 9 on the chart in April, then dipped to No. 24 before jumping again to No. 9 last week and finally hitting No. 1, thanks in part to a new remix featuring Juan Luis Morena Luna, aka Wisin of reggaetón duo Wisin & Yandel. In fact, there are three different versions of the song (including the remix), which is ranked No. 1 in several key markets, including New York and Puerto Rico.
What makes this chart-topper most remarkable, however, is that the album featuring the original single, "Mi Musica" (My Music), has been out since March 2011. Released on Puerto Rican indie label New Era Entertainment and licensed to Venemusic, the album had an auspicious beginning thanks to the single "Dandole," a major radio hit that has sold 49,000 digital downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Then momentum on Mi Musica sputtered. The album has sold only 5,000 copies, according to SoundScan-but the recent success of "Si Te Digo la Verdad" is breathing new life into the year-old recording.
"The most important element is that it's selling again," Venevision International music VP Jorge Pino says after the single's download sales rose by 85% last week. "We've repositioned the album in stores, we've lowered the price, and I think next week we'll see a surge in sales."
A successful and respected reggaetón producer/songwriter before he became a solo artist, Gocho had often been featured on other performers' tracks but never ventured out on his own until "Mi Musica." Though the initial success of "Dandole" was encouraging, New Era's flashy other acts-Dominican merengue urbano singer Omega, popular reggaetón duo Jowell & Randy-frequently overshadowed Gocho's attempts to break out from the pack, says label owner Nelson Gustavo Colon, who also serves as Gocho's manager.
"No one was connecting ["Dandole"] to the artist," Pino adds. "So now we're very focused on tying the song to his image-constantly showing his face in our TV spot, for example."
Though Venevision distributes Gocho's music and helps with marketing, most of the media push is handled by New Era with radio promoter Summa Entertainment and press/marketing firm Nevarez Communications. "My success is directly linked to my team," Gocho says. "And because I work with a small label, we're able to make decisions very quickly."
Gocho admits that after Mi Musica sales stagnated last year, he began working on a new solo album. But his team felt there was still some life left in Mi Musica, and decided to give it another big promotional push before abandoning the release. "New Era doesn't work me like an artist," Gocho says. "They're my partners."
As far as his future writing endeavors, Gocho has already delivered a new track to salsa star Jerry Rivera and is featured on Juan Magan's upcoming single, "Fiesta." Now that he's reached the top of the charts, it's expected that his team will use its rapid decision-making process to enact even more new moves in the weeks ahead.