Is This Mexico's Most Powerful Man in Music?
The heir to the second-biggest fortune in the world listens to AC/DC in his car and used to DJ at an Acapulco dance club. That's part of the everyman charm exuded by business scion Carlos Slim Domit, the son of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helú, a 75-year-old telecommunications mogul (pictured below with Robert De Niro), whose assets are worth $77.1 billion (almost $5 billion more than Warren Buffett), according to Forbes' 2015 ranking. The oldest of six children, Slim Domit, 48, is responsible for preserving his family's empire with his two brothers, Marco Antonio, 46, and Patrick, 45. But he alone serves as the chairman of Grupo Carso, the cornerstone of his father's oligarchy and one of the globe's biggest conglomerates.
Through this role, Slim Domit oversees a substantial part of Latin America's retail music industry. He also is the chairman of subsidiary Grupo Sanborns, a syndicate of physical and digital retail stores with more than $2.8 billion in earnings in 2014. The company's portfolio includes Sanborns, a department-store chain with an extensive music section and 170 locations in Mexico, and a majority stake in Mixup, a 117-store Mexican retailer similar to Tower Records with $320 million in revenue in 2014. And Slim Domit's influence in the music sphere is only growing. In 2013, Grupo Carso opened Mexico City's Telcel Theater, which operates in conjunction with Grupo CIE (Corporación Interamericana de Entretenimiento), Mexico's equivalent of Live Nation. Plus, this past January, Grupo Carso publicly launched Claro Musica, an online music service that is a Latin American amalgam of iTunes and Spotify. In other words, it's very difficult to buy music in Mexico without paying the Slims.
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Mixup is Mexico's most successful music store. How did your family get involved?
[Entrepreneurs] Isaac and Emma Massry founded Mixup, and we've partnered with them since 1994 -- Grupo Carso came in to add the infrastructure and capital for growth. The Massrys have handled the operations since we became partners. We've always been very respectful of their decisions; no one knows the concept like them.
Since record sales have plunged, how has the chain evolved?
Record sales went down, but video games and gadget sales are up. Through a selling partnership with Apple, we added iShop [an Apple premium reseller] to Mixup, and today we have 117 iShop-Mixup selling spots.
You also just launched Claro Musica. But Grupo Carso has been involved in digital sales for more than a decade.
Our first digital venture took place in 1996, and it was called Beon. After that came Mixupdigital, Sanborns' online store, and Telcel [Grupo Carso's cellphone company], but we soon realized there was no use in having several online music services and concentrated them into one platform. With Claro Musica, people can buy songs and records, subscribe to free and paid streaming services, and listen to online radio stations. Our market vision is regional, and we are in 16 Latin American countries.
There seems to be a strong cultural connection between violence and music with the phenomenon of the narcocorrido. Do you have a policy of not promoting or selling music that's tied to narcocorridos?
That's a question I haven't been asked before, but music is a cultural expression. As such, the record labels decide what projects in which they participate. People can have access to what they want. What's recorded and what's not? That's an issue more for the labels than the distribution chains.
From where you sit, you're able to observe many aspects of the industry. Where do you see it going?
In the end, it all comes down to a service, and you can't miss what people want. I believe we have yet to fully explore selling digital music in physical stores.
We sell electronic devices like tablets or smartphones in our stores, and those devices could go out with content. If I buy a tablet or a telephone and I want to download music, maybe I'd like it to have classical music but I don't know which symphony I should be listening to. We have the ability to sell that playlist in an actual store.
You were married in 2010. It's well known that you DJ'd a 40-minute set, but what did you dance to?
(Chuckles.) We danced to a song that was a gift from a good friend of ours.
What was the song?
Pepe Aguilar's "Un Privilegio," which was co-written by [alternative-mariachi singer-songwriter] Fato. Pepe revised it later for his  album Negociaré Con la Pena.
Even more so. In my car, I have everything from AC/DC to classical. And because of all the music projects we are involved in as a company, I listen to pop, opera, boleros -- and of course, a lot of Mexican music.
This story originally appeared in the May 2 issue of Billboard.