Sony Music Latin Iberia's Afo Verde On His First-Ever Billboard Shoot (Alongside J.Lo): 'It Was Surreal'

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Illustration by Alex Fine
        

The Sony Latin chairman/CEO reflects on his Executive of the Year shoot for Billboard's Latin Power Players issue in 2016.

In Afo Verde's role overseeing Sony’s Latin operation, the Argentina-bred chief in 2018 toasted the label group’s 49.1% hold on the Latin market. A couple of years prior, on Oct. 10, 2016, the music producer/label executive held court at Jennifer Lopez’s home in Parkway Calabasas, Calif.

Brazilian icon Roberto Carlos, there to film a video for his Lopez duet, “Chegaste,” was in one room, while the singer’s ex-husband Marc Anthony, on-site to work on her first Spanish-language LP in a decade, stood on a balcony. Verde, meanwhile, was there for his first Billboard shoot, photographed alongside Lopez for Billboard’s Latin Power Players issue, in which he was named Executive of the Year. “Afo is an artist’s record man,” Lopez told Billboard at the time. “I relate best to executives who understand the art of making music.”

 


 

When I was in high school in Buenos Aires, one of my classmates was friends with a flight attendant who’d bring Billboard magazine home. He’s the one who explained the charts and the industry to me, and that’s when my curiosity was piqued: I’d never seen a magazine that mixed stories about artists and executives. I learned a lot when I knew nothing. When we did the photo shoot with Jennifer, I couldn’t help but think about that. She had long told me she loved Roberto Carlos, and Roberto had told me he loved her. Marc and I were the executive producers of her album, which was missing one song. [Puerto Rican songwriter] Kany Garcia wrote “Chegaste,” and that day we were all in her house working on it and also filming the video. To also [be doing] the photo shoot with Jennifer brought back memories of those days as a kid, reading Billboard with my friend, thousands of miles away. It was surreal. There was a huge monitor, and I didn’t expect the pictures to automatically pop up. Suddenly I was there. [It was] unexpected, especially coming from where I come from. I got many positive responses from [fellow Argentines] as a result. So many people -- my old soccer friends, people who have nothing to do with music -- saw it online. [As for the song], we also recorded it in Portuguese, and it became a huge hit in Brazil.    -- AS TOLD TO LEILA COBO

This article originally appeared in the April 27 issue of Billboard.