Billboard Latin Music Week Panel Explores Navigating 'The New Business Model' of Digital Distribution

The Internet changed eveything.

It may sound obvious, but the vastness of technology, its evolution and creating music for a global audience has expanded the reach of recording artists and their teams as they stay flexible and explore new channels to remain competitive and strategic.

"The New Business Model: How Digital Distribution Companies Became Content Creators, Labels, and Publishers" -- one of the first panels of 2019 Billboard Latin Music Week, moderated by veteran music industry attorney Angela "Angie" Martinez -- included Camille Soto, GLAD Empire; El Alfa, artist/El Jefe Records; Frabian Eli, manager (Anuel AA); Gaby Music, artist; Ivan Alarcon, Vibras Lab and Nando Luaces, Altafonte.

Back in the day, "There was no Internet," Martinez said in her opening remarks at The Venetian in Las Vegas. "We all had to depend on magazines and the press to know about our favorite artists. It was a lot more expensive to make music."

Working independently means having relationships with a variety of companies, including labels, and maintaining regular contact with key platforms, said Frabian Eli, manager to Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA.

The panelists agreed that having a strong label manager, having strong publicists and keeping track of how music performs on digital platforms allows artists to focus on countries where they they are gaining traction.

That means, Alarcon said, that knowing all audience types is more important than ever, in addition to knowing where Spanish-language music thrives the most around the world, adding that, "We connect with the audience all over the world."

El Alfa echoes those sentiments, adding that social media posts can often be inaccurate, but he takes advantage of that by following up the social media buzz with music themes tied to it -- even if a social media storyline is controversial or not necessarly the truth. "You can gain good engagement out of that," El Alfa declares. "Don't know why gossip seems to take the lead sometimes, but good things can come from that."

As Latin urban music has evolved through the years, one thing is certain: Arrogance is no longer trendy, says Eli, adding, "I tell the guys that I work with that there is always someone better than you. The key to things is remaining humble and everything else will fall into place."

Also, Martinez says, it's important for artists to read and know their contracts carefully before signing. "It's important to have a good team that knows these things."


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