Business

Warner Music Latin America President Iñigo Zabala to Depart at End of 2021: Exclusive

Inigo Zabala
Courtesy of WMG

Inigo Zabala

"My intention is to remain in the music world and I will announce my future plans as soon as I can," Zabala tells Billboard.

Iñigo Zabala, the longtime president of Warner Music Latin America & Iberia, is stepping down at the end of 2021 after more than 30 years with the company, Billboard has learned. He will then remain on as a consultant for the company through 2022.

"Iñigo Zabala is planning to step down from his current role at the end of the year, but we’re pleased that he’s agreed to continue to work with us beyond that as an independent consultant," a Warner spokesperson confirmed. "We’ll be announcing news of his successor in due course."

News of Zabala’s departure, delivered this morning to Warner staff, came as a surprise to many in the Latin music industry, where Zabala is highly regarded by executives and artists alike. Outwardly, at least, there had been no indication that he was planning on leaving the company nor are there any credible leads on who could replace him, although it is speculated that it would be someone from one of the other majors.

Originally signed to Warner in Spain when he was the keyboardist and founding member of successful rock band La Union, Zabala remained with the band as a recording artist for several years before becoming an executive in Warner Spain’s A&R department. He rose through the ranks and in 2001 was named president of Warner Music Latin America, replacing Andre Midani.

"Having been in a band gave me the background to understand how an artist thinks," Zabala told Billboard at the time of his appointment.

Zabala was instrumental in signing stars like Miguel Bosé and Alejandro Sanz and was a key player in the success of rock band Maná. Most recently, he signed Myke Towers to his first major label deal. The young Puerto Rican star has already placed top 10s on Billboard’s Global Excl U.S. chart and collaborated on Selena Gomez’s new album.

"They have been fantastic years," said Zabala, reached on his cellphone in Madrid, where he flew in this week. "I leave an outstanding team of artists and executives. My intention is to remain in the music world and I will announce my future plans as soon as I can."

Zabala also leaves a particularly diverse team of artists and executives. Warner is the only U.S. Latin company with a female managing director, Gaby Martinez, who has been at her post for over a decade. The company's operations in Chile, Peru and Colombia are also led by women.