The Future Is Ozuna: How Sony's Global Deal Reflects a Changing Marketplace

bb27 2019 - do not reuse
Pablo Diaz
Ozuna

Until now, Latin artists with joint record deals were the norm. If an act with mainstream potential was signed to a regional Latin label, it would almost always sign a separate deal with a major in order to release its album in English — even if that label was a corporate cousin of the same conglomerate. But Ozuna, the smooth-voiced reggaetonero from Puerto Rico, is the first major Latin artist to pursue a different strategy in Anglo markets -- and he won’t be the last.

In yet another example of the growing importance of the Latin market, Sony Music Entertainment signed the 27-year-old star in a multimillion dollar agreement that sources say may be one of the largest global deals for a Latin artist in recent memory. “It sets Ozuna up to be a global priority,” says Simran Singh, Ozuna’s attorney.

The agreement includes multiple future albums and rights to his two previous albums, which were distributed by The Orchard. This is an extension of Ozuna’s previous deal with the indie label Dimelo Vi, which is owned by his former manager Vicente Saavedra.

Traditionally, most artists in Ozuna’s position would have signed to a specific label. Instead, Sony went all in with one global deal, signaling that the joint deals Latin artists have made in the past may be outmoded for some artists. With today’s streaming metrics, majors have more confidence about which Latin artists will go mainstream. In Ozuna’s case, the numbers are already compelling enough.

Ozuna’s debut, Odisea, was the best-selling Latin album of 2017, according to Nielsen Music, and was streamed in the United States 1.5 billion times that year, more than any other Latin album. His second set, Aura, was the best-selling Latin album of 2018 and amassed 900 million on-demand audio streams (the second highest for a Latin LP, after Bad Bunny’s X 100pre). That year, Ozuna was the most-viewed act of any genre or language on YouTube outside the United States. He’s tied with Daddy Yankee for placing the most tracks to date on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart -- 71 -- a feat Ozuna managed in three years, compared with Daddy Yankee’s two decades. When Ozuna’s third album, Nibiru, comes out Nov. 29, his pattern of domination will likely continue, since it will also be his first release with Sony’s full weight behind it.

“We’ve always worked hard and I’m very pleased and thankful with the results we’ve had so far, and which speak for themselves,” Ozuna tells Billboard. “It’s the main reason why I’ve aimed to crossing even more borders in the music business. I’ve worked hand in hand with Sony as a distributor for the past years. They trust my work and my vision and that’s very important to me.”

“We are honored to have [Ozuna’s] trust,” Sony said in a statement provided exclusively to Billboard. “We are very happy to continue working with him and we feel he’s an artist who’s ready to conquer the world.”

This is an updated version of a story that originally appeared in Nov. 16 issue of Billboard.


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