At one of the MIDEM's more interesting opening day panels, a diverse group of Brazil's music industry drilled down into the country's music market which, much like its overall economy, is simmering. (The panel, titled "The Brazilian Music Experience," was to be augmented with three nights of concerts featuring Brazilian music and artists.) The panel's moderator, Bruno Boulay, who works with French TelCom SESC in Sao Paulo, cited data putting the value of the nation's live music market at some $5.5 billion in turnover and a digital market that has grown 25% for each of the last three years.
Two of Brazil's most successful music execs, Luis Justo, CEO of Rock in Rio and Marcelo Soares, CEO of the indecently owned Som Livre label, are poster children for the Latin American nation's music biz growth over the last two decades.
Som Livre, Brazil's largest independent record label, is run by CEO Marcello Soares. With over 100 artists it enjoys a solid 20% of the country's music market and by focusing on local repertoire, Soares says, he is able to successfully compete with majors Sony and Universal for market share. He cites the success of his artists in the international market, which would not have been possible "10 or 15 years ago" with the Portuguese language barrier and without the dissemination of digital media, as one of his label's key revenue streams.
Soares touted the international success of Son Livre artists like Michel Telo, whose song "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" became a worldwide smash in 2012 after soccer superstar Cristiano Renaldo was seen dancing to the song, helping propel it to No. 1 in 30 counties. When Soares saw the video he told Billboard that he "laughed a lot. I could never have imagined how huge it would get." The song is still the label's biggest international seller and on YouTube, Soares said, the song still gets 2 million views a week.
He also spoke about several other Som Livre artists who have found global success including Maria Gadu and Gusttavo Lima, who differ from his label's national best-sellers Jorge & Mateus (biggest on iTunes) and Luan Santana (physical sales). He also noted the strength of Brazil's DVD market which generates significant revenues for the music label.
Coming up on Som Livre is Claudia Leitte's inclusion on FIFA's official World Cup' song with Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez. Though the song is coming out through Sony, he said his labels' strong national roster is the reason they tapped Leitte for it, rather than another Sony artist.
Rock in Rio CEO Luis Justo looked back on his festival's growth over the the last 30 years. The fest has gone from charging $8 a ticket to today where it runs about $150 and had major sponsors, artists like Prince, Paul McCartney and Shakira, and international editions that include Portugal and Spain and, as a new locale, Las Vegas in May 2015. The brand also recently announced a partnership with Robert Sillerman's SFX and, according to Justo, is looking to expand to sites in the Middle East, Germany and South America. He also told Billboard after the panel that Rock In Rio will begin promoting the Vegas concert in the U.S. starting in March and stage an event in NYC's Time Square to raise awareness of the Vegas festival.
Musician Marcel Daldalto of the band Zemaria had a different view on the Brazilian touring market which he said has not been able to sustain his band as readily as the international market. While his group does well in the bigger cities of Rio and Sao Paulo, the country's vast distances and limited markets make it difficult to book national tours. He said that within Brazil's 27 states some cities have no record stores at all. His band, which is signed to France's Peermusic, now focuses on the more developed European markets.
Digital entrepreneur Dauton Janota, CEO of Pleimo.com, is trying make it easier for Brazilian artists to have careers. He noted how many Brazilian bands never get to make a second album due to a lack of financial support from touring and music sales. His digital start-up offers streams, ticketing and more, and says he puts the artist at the center of the economic music model, giving significant revenues. He cited the Brazilian band Medulla who might make $600 playing a gig, but thanks to fans supporting the band on his site now gets a check for "about $2,000 a month."
Almost on cue, it seemed, as Janota continued speaking, a Brazilian drum band began marching through MIDEM's expo hall much to the attendee's delight and giving the panel pause -- perhaps realizing why any of them were sitting up there at all.