Romeo Santos on Teaming With Jay Z for Roc Nation Latino: 'We Come From the Hood, and He Gets It'
To Romeo Santos’ long list of titles -- superstar, Billboard’s Top Latin artist of the year, songwriter of the year, one of Billboard’s Top 40 earners of 2015 -- you can now add the title of CEO.
Yesterday, Billboard broke the news that Romeo Santos has been appointed CEO of the newly created Roc Nation Latino, a full service division within Roc Nation that will be dedicated to Latin talent. Santos will also be managed by Roc Nation in conjunction with his longtime manager, Johnny Marines.
Billboard spoke exclusively with the Latin superstar about what it means to be a CEO and an artist.
Roc Nation first approached you about management. How important was it to you that they also offered to launch a Latin division with you in charge?
I think it was very fundamental. I’ve always idolized Jay Z. He’s one of my favorite persons, even before I knew him personally. The way he carried himself. You see a lot of talented people but you usually don't see talented people who behind the scenes know how to conduct themselves on a higher level. He thinks like a mogul which is why he became one. For them to show interest in managing me, that was pretty appealing. It’s just that when they reached out about four years ago, I had a lot going on. I’m not superstitious, but I think the time is now. When they came to us with the whole CEO proposal I said, "This is a win-win situation."
Had you ever considered taking an executive role?
I always visualized myself in that position and the way it was presented to me I couldn’t say no. This is the time. I’m super hungry, I know what it takes to build a brand. I’ve gotten this far not just because of my music but because I know what to do and what not to do. I’m really excited about giving back. This is my way of giving back.
How about the management part. Why was that important now?
I’m not taking for granted being managed by Roc Nation. They have a lot of relations and they have a reach that I clearly could benefit from. And dealing with someone who is an artist himself, that’s great. His story is not too far from mine. It’s a similar biography -- we come from the hood, and he gets it.
Do you already have some artists in mind for Roc Nation Latino?
I have a few. They’re not known because I’m more concentrated on bringing new blood.
You’ve made your career by singing in Spanish, and only occasionally doing some bilingual collaborations. Are you planning to record in English now?
As people already know, I’m born and raised in the Bronx. I don’t have a problem always showing diversity with one or two songs or more [in English or Spanglish]. But as far as the typical crossover dream, the definition that many people have [recording in English for the mainstream] is not mine. I think you have a crossover when you are known to a wider audience and a different market. I’ve been able to sell out stadiums all over the world by doing my music. I’m lucky to be in that list without having done an official crossover. Now, will you hear me doing a little bit of R&B? Sure.