All parts of the Latin music industry must unite and lobby for their common interests in order to survive piracy and the digital transition, the chairman/CEO of Universal Music Latin America/Iberian Peninsula Jesus Lopez said Wednesday.
Lopez' Q&A at the Billboard Latin Music Conference with Billboard's executive director of Latin content and programming Leila Cobo revealed that the most powerful label executive in the Latin music industry is both an optimist and a realist about the business today.
UMG's acquisitions of Univision Music Group, Juan Gabriel's extension of his publishing deal and the signing of superstar Alejandro Fernandez show the company wants to invest in the genre, Lopez told a packed house at the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Though he applauded the recent implementation of an anti-piracy law in Mexico and extension of copyright terms in Argentina, Lopez said governments in the region were far behind Europe in terms of penalizing piracy, protecting copyrights and taking legal action against sites like the Pirate Bay, which Swedish authorities took down. The shutdown led to a rise in legal music sales in Sweden, both physical and digital, said Lopez, referring to an IFPI study.
"Don't managers and composers and artists all have the same problem? We have to unite and lobby governments and demonstrate how important we are to local economies, the amount of business we generate around the music, and how important it is to bring copyrights up-to-date," said Lopez.
Referring to successful tours in the region by Iron Maiden and Metallica, he added, "Latin America has sufficient resources to support old glories of English and American and German rock," but local artists on the rise have a harder time selling tickets. "It's our fault. We're not able to organize our governments and media and music industry and say that people want to go out and have fun and unite our interests," said Lopez, who advocates the abolition or lowering of value-added tax on music to spur consumption.