Gallardo, who spent six years as senior vp A&R for all of the company's regions and is known as firm and even, will oversee a staff of nearly 100. "What's important is to understand artists, their needs and motivations, and to create the best environment possible for their creativity to flow," he says. And his appointment was met with praise from many in the artist community. In a statement, Shakira called Gallardo a "professional" who is "in touch with the musical landscape and understands artists," while Ricky Martin says, "His focus, knowledge and passion makes artists trust the process."
"Alex has been at the center of my last two albums, helping to coordinate producers and finding the best songs and combinations of people to work with," Thalia told Billboard. "He is one of the greatest professionals that I have worked with. I think Sony Music will only continue to blossom with his leadership."
Although Gallardo told Billboard he was "totally" surprised by his appointment, it's clear that his standing within Sony has been on the rise. In the past year, he has helmed high-profile projects for the likes of Shakira, Maluma and CNCO and overseen artistic direction for the company's seven territories, including the U.S. Now, Gallardo said he wants to reinforce the A&R department, and that his top priority is to strengthen the U.S. Latin operation and ensure a smooth transition. "The plan is to continue as we were, collaborating," Gallardo says. "Nir did a fantastic job signing incredible artists and releasing huge hits. The bar is high."
He added: "U.S. Latin has been a generator of content not only for themselves but for the entire Latin operation, and I'd like it to continue to be."
And while urban music will continue to be the focus, "obviously there are other kinds of music and genres and great artists in the region."
"Alex is my companion in musical adventures," said Argentine icon Fito Páez, one of those stars. "He has every attribute: He's critical, a great listener, has the patience of 200 elephants, the best humor and those good vibes that are so needed today and always."
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 26 issue of Billboard.