How Mexican Regional Artists Are Reaching New Audiences Via TV & Video (Panel)

New Windows For Regional Mexican panelists at the 2013 Billboard Latin Music Conference (from left): Pepe Garza, Memo Ibarra, Diana Mogollón, Luis Rivera, and German Chavez. (Photo: Arnold Turner)

New Windows For Regional Mexian

Pepe Garza,
Founder & President, Arpa Musical

German Chavez, Managing Director, Discos Sabina
Memo Ibarra, Artist, Alerta Zero
Diana Mogollón, General Manager, mun2
Luis Rivera, Senior Programmer, Latin Music & Videos, Music Choice

Mexican regional music is expanding and reaching new audiences not by radio or internet as one might expect  – but via TV. At least that’s what some posited at a Wednesday panel discussion entitled “New Windows for Regional Mexican,” at Billboard Latin Music Conference.

Maybe it should have been called “New Channels” because most of the discussion was based on getting to listeners via TV and video. “We go behind the scenes,” said Diana Mogollon, general manager of Mun2, which had the popular “I Love Jenni” show following the life and family of Mexican songstress Jenni Rivera until she died in a plane crash last December. The last season began airing earlier this month and drew 366,000 viewers.

The channel has several more reality shows, including “Larrymania,” a reality show featuring Mexican singer Larry Hernández, which is now their number one show.

“Our programming shows the fans these artists’ lives. They can live with them, laugh with them, cry with them,” Mogollon said. “We do it in a very special way on Mun2 and the fans keep coming and coming, which is what happened with Jenni’s show, which went to incredible heights.

Yet Mogollon noted that the television platform doesn’t exist in a bubble. “It goes further than radio,” she said, “but also complements radio. “We are revolutionizing the genre and bringing the artists to the fans and bringing them to more fans.”

Mun2 will son launch a show with Memo Ibarra from Alerta Zero, who was also on the panel. The hour-long show, called Alerta Zero, launches in May and will follow Ibarra and former members of the chart-topping Regional Mexican music group Alacranes Musical, who have formed a new band.

Pepe Garza, founder and president of Arpa Music, asked Mogollon how she keeps the content cool and exciting. “Our lives, for the majority of us, are rather ordinary,” he said, how do you keep people interested?”

Mogollon disagreed.  “Look at Jenni, she said. “Everyone knows that her life was extraordinary, not ordinary. The same with Larry. The same with Memo. We want people who live special lives. What we want is to really capture those stories that for the many TV viewers who don’t live here,” she said, explaining that the network is seen around the world and especially in Latin America --- it’s like a filter of what it is like to live in this country in this bicultural way.

For Luis Rivera, senior programmer of Latin music and video at Music Choice, TV is just part of the formula. The company has 46 channels of music reaching roughly 50 million homes across the U.S. But it also is trying to get more Mexican Regional programming.

Garza asked Rivera how new artists could get on the programming. “Part of my strategy is really to focus on the new generation of artists that are up and coming,” Rivera responded, adding that “If you are an artist in the audience, meet me afterwards. I will give you my personal email address,” he said. “You don’t have to be signed to a major label to be played on Music Choice. That’s a big misconception people have. If it’s good music, we want it -- but I don’t want to hear some basement recording with your abuela screaming in the background. I like to see a full package, a picture, a bio, I like to know a little bit of the artist before we show them.”

Music Choice also has a new program called Prime where they develop and expose new artists and post all their content on its website, Rivera said. “We are interested in doing visual aspects and shooting interviews and original programming.”

An audience member asked the panel where they thought the industry and the genre was going. “Right now, the record companies are having a very rough time,” responded German Chavez, managing director of Discos Sabina. “We work close with many of them that are trying to become boutique labels.” To sign an artist these days, he added, “the quality and talent has to be exceptional. You have to work hard to be part of a company that wants to develop a good artist.”

Garza added that promoting Mexican regional music has changed – just as it has changed for all music.  “Artists used to be on TV when they started their careers and when they ended them, right? That is old school.” Today, that has changed and artists of different genres are on TV all the time doing different things and this is part of the formula.”