When the going gets tough, the tough get creative, industry professionals agreed on the first day (April 20) of the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami.

That held true just as much for urban artists trying to reach a fragmented audience with limited radio to Latin television outlets in a soft advertising market.

During the urban star panel at the Eden Roc Hotel, Joel "Fido" Martinez of reggaeton duo Alexis y Fido said his group still relies on mixtapes to get its music to hardcore fans, even though the artists are signed to Sony.

Januaro "Nayo" Crespo, founder of hit factory Panama Music, said one of the most effective marketing tools at his disposal were fan-created videos to his artists' songs, produced long before an official video is released.

Kinto Sol, a hip-hop trio with a loyal underground fan base, runs its own merch operation and licenses its music to Universal from its independent label.

While licensing original music for TV is often prohibitively expensive -- so much so that a dance contest show and a karaoke-style program were both halted at Spanish Broadcasting System's Mega TV network -- the fledgling channel has found some savvy ways to brand itself with music and get sponsors on board.

"As the economy suffers, so does our content," said Cynthia Hudson, executive VP and chief creative officer at Spanish Broadcasting Systems, during the "Music and Media" panel. She added that "creativity doesn't cost money."

For example, Dr Pepper came on board for product placement during SBS' online music show, Lamusica.com Live. In addition to a can of Dr Pepper on the host's desk, the show's logo was redesigned to incorporate the soft drink's logo. Similarly, Mega TV was able to work with Aventura's label to air footage of the bachata group's five-night concert run in Puerto Rico across different programs on the network.

"The onus is on the industry to work with us and on us to work with the industry," Hudson said.

Ironically, a tough sales environment for both the recorded music and television industries has made deals that were previously "unthinkable" a reality, according to Margaret Guerra Rogers, VP of music affairs at Telemundo Network Group. Telemundo's youth channel, mun2, has created a multi-platform reality series around urban bachata group Xtreme.

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