Best-known as an owner and operator of radio stations, Spanish Broadcasting System is expanding its footprint in live entertainment.

Through its SBS Entertainment division, the Coconut Grove, Fla., media company has promoted Latin music concerts since 2002, most of them festivals. But SBSE has sharply increased staffing in the last two years to grow its promotion business and bid on tours. It's also branching out into artist management, branding partnerships and other areas.

Since 2008, SBSE has promoted or co-promoted 17 concerts and is currently bidding on four national tours. During that time, SBSE has grown its staff from four to 21 people across key markets where the company has radio stations, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.

The company's staff includes former label executives, brand marketers, artist managers and event producers, including director of worldwide management Jorge Ramos (formerly VP of promotion at EMI Televisa), national director of live concerts Angelo Schipilliti and Ricky Martin's one-time co-manager Ricardo Cordero, who's now SBSE director of live concerts in Puerto Rico.

While it's not unusual for radio stations to produce concerts and sell them to promoters, SBSE went solo promoting sold-out shows by pop star Ricardo Arjona Feb. 13-14 at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico Jose Miguel Agrelot. According to the venue's report to Billboard Boxscore, the shows grossed $1,511,893 and brought in 27,441 fans.

High ticket prices are unfairly "punishing" fans, SBSE senior VP Lucas Piña says. If left unchecked, he warns, many fans will opt instead to watch performances online or on pay-per-view.

Tickets for Arjona's concerts averaged a relatively modest $35, which helped them sell out, Piña says. The company ran promo spots for the shows on all its Puerto Rican stations, regardless of genre, though SBSE's strategy allows for media buys on non-SBS properties where appropriate.

For shows built around a single act, the company often secures dates with artists by paying them an advance, then bringing in a co-promoter and sharing profits—rather than simply coming onboard as a media sponsor for an existing show. In the case of five Aventura shows in December 2008 at Puerto Rico's Coliseo, the company worked with a co-promoter, Stein Dueño Entertainment, which is also an SBS client for purchasing radio spots to advertise concerts.

"When we do a co-promotion, we can bring the prices down," Piña says. "If I look for an alliance, it's because I don't want people to pay $200 for a ticket."

For Calibash, a March 24 festival at Los Angeles' Staples Center presented by SBS' urban KXOL and AEG Live, SBSE brought in station sponsors like Metro PCS, Suzuki and Doritos. Such acts as Ivy Queen and R.K.M. & Ken-Y performed at cost.

As SBSE also moves to expand into management services, Piña says the company offers prospective clients booking deals or more comprehensive services. He says SBSE has signed management deals with two SBS media personalities and an artist, adding that the company wasn't yet ready to make the signings public.

SBSE's Cordero says, "Our job is to find new, up-and-coming artists or breakthrough talent that we can take from the start and develop their opportunities in the market, artists that have a good following and repertoire and [are] working their way from club performances up to big stadiums."

SBSE is also looking to strike deals with consumer brands for marketing campaigns that take advantage of SBS' various businesses, which include radio, Mega TV, entertainment news site LaMusica.com and live events, according to SBSE national director of marketing and partnerships Leo Arciniegas.

"Brands are looking for an extended opportunity and more of a 360-degree platform," Arciniegas says.

SBSE's Cordero will discuss company strategy during the panel "Playing Musical Chairs (In the Touring Arena)" at the Billboard Latin Music Conference, set for April 26-28 at the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza in Puerto Rico. For more information, go to billboardlatinconference.com.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print