Latin pop star Ricardo Arjona, one of the few Latin stars who sells out arenas nationwide, kicks off the second U.S. leg of his “Metamorfosis World Tour” Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 with sold-out shows at Puerto Rico’s Coliseo José Miguel Agrelot. Arjona will play a total of 14 North American dates, beginning Feb. 7 at Patriot Center in Washington D.C. and including Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Planet Hollywood Live in Las Vegas, two dates at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles and Chicago’s Akoo Theater at Rosemont, where a second date was added after the first sold out.
The tour will be the first major U.S. stint produced in its entirety by SBS Entertainment, the live event division of media company Spanish Broadcasting Systems (SBS), which is best known for its SBS radio network of influential stations.
Lucas Piña, SBS Entertainment’s senior VP, tells us how his division took the leap from producing and presenting radio events to producing national tours.
You’ve been producing an increasing number of live shows in the past two years, including Shakira in Puerto Rico, Romeo Santos at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood, and previous Arjona dates in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, which you presented jointly with AEG Live. What is the difference between what you’ve been doing and this tour?
It’s the first time we venture into new markets; markets where we never really worked before—like Dallas, Houston, Phoneix, Las Vegas—markets with other demographics, other venues and completely different media.
Many of these markets don’t have SBS stations, which you have in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico and Chicago. How are you promoting in the absence of stations?
I’m going directly to the consumer with an artist like Arjona, who hasn’t toured these markets in four years. Fans were waiting for him. And I’m creating strategic alliances with important radio and TV stations as well as activating all our digital media.
Does your competing media resist this?
Not at all. In the end, this is a business and everybody wants to make money. We simply become another media buyer like any other promoter.
Are you working with local promoters?
Yes. In Chicago we’re working with Viva, for example, and in Las Vegas with Cesar’s Entertainment.
What’s been the biggest challenge of producing a national tour?
Putting together the routing and organizing the entire production. Arjona travels with 10 trucks per show. He has over 72,000 pounds of equipment and more than 4,000 square feet of stage. He has an impressive production, and that’s really been the biggest challenge. To build this tour, knowing we have the entire responsibility of putting all the elements together to make it a success.
So what happens next for SBS Entertainment if it is a success?
We really prepared before venturing into a tour. We had to train our employees, and we did that by initially producing shows in the cities where we had radio stations. This is the second stage. We’re finalizing conversations to produce at least two other major tours by summer. This is really the result of a lot of preparation and we feel we are—and can be—a very competitive player in this market.
You are part of a media company that owns radio. Is airplay part of your business model?
Airplay has never been part of the equation. Some people think that because we have media, the artist we present have privileges that they really don’t have. We compete like any other promoter. We compete with price. Artists charge for their tour and we offer to buy that tour. One thing doesn’t have to do with the other. We are simply concert promoters with different tools at our disposal. AEG, for example, owns its ticketing and its venues. We own media. There’s no difference.
What has enabled you to take this step?
The team. The secret is the vision and the team. We’re looking for all the right elements to create an experience and find success. Our motto is “We see you, we hear you, we speak your language” and we really try to live by that.