EMI Consolidates Capitol Latin, Regional Marketing Duties Under One Exec

If the last few years have been punishing for the U.S. Latin music business, they have been especially so for Capitol Latin, the U.S. Latin division of EMI.

The label, which as EMI Latin captured 9% of U.S. Latin album sales in 2006, has seen that share steadily erode, leaving the label with just 4.6% of the market in 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The company is at a crossroads with the recent appointment of Sergio Lopes, longtime EMI Music Latin America VP of digital and new channel development, as senior VP of Capitol Latin in the United States and regional marketing for Latin America (Billboard.biz, Feb. 11). The position is a new one, marking the first time that the head of the label is simultaneously head of marketing for the region. His U.S. label duties were previously handled by Diana Rodriguez, who left her post as senior VP of marketing for Capitol Latin in early February.

For Lopes, his dual responsibilities reflect how deeply entwined the U.S. Latin market is with the entire Latin region.

"We are not adhering to the old rules that dictated you had to hit first in your home country before moving to the next one," Lopes says. "Our country is Latin America."

For example, Panamanian singer Joey Montana, who signed with Capitol Latin last year, will be worked not only in the States but also in Puerto Rico, Colombia and Panama. "There's no reason not to jump into these countries immediately when we have the Internet," Lopes adds.

Since last September, EMI's entire Latin operation has come under the purview of Nestor Casonu, the former head of EMI Music Publishing Latin America who's now EMI Latin chairman. Departments that once operated independently-publishing and the labels-now work closely together.

In another recent executive move, Camilo Lara stepped down from his posts as chairman of EMI Mexico and head of Latin American A&R, with former marketing director Robbie Lear assuming the reins at the label as managing director.

"We are in the process of restructuring the company to adapt to the new global vision of EMI," Casonu wrote in an e-mail to Billboard. "Sergio is an executive with great experience in the industry who understands the U.S. market as well as the Latin American markets."

Lopes, who was formerly VP of digital and new channel development for EMI Music Latin America, is placing new focus on that area for the entire operation.

"We are not afraid to try something really, really different and make it a viable business model," he says.

Lopes is also putting together a new Internet and social media team and will soon announce the hiring of a regional head of digital marketing-a new position. Lopes' predecessor Rodriguez, who headed Capitol Latin for 12 months and was the only woman to lead a Latin label in the United States, did much to mend EMI's frayed relations with artists.

Now, Lopes says, the focus is back on music. "It's different now because publishing is now very close and it allows for a lot of exchanges between composers and artists and producers," he says. "I'm glad to say we're talking about music 90% of the time, and the other 10% is strategizing how to sell it."