In August 2013, Josh Mendez was at a barbershop in Kissimmee, Fla., just south of Orlando, when he heard Justin Quiles playing on the stereo. He couldn’t understand what the young reggaetonero was singing, but he liked the melodies. He called his father, Rich Mendez, a former car-dealership owner who founded the Rich Music label in 2007, and they scheduled a recording session with Quiles later that day. “We didn’t have money,” recalls Rich, so they sold their cars, gave Quiles a $10,000 advance and signed him to a recording contract. A month later, Quiles’ first single, “Orgullo,” was on the radio. Since then, Rich Music has been quiet -- until now. The label has grown to 17 employees, all of whom work at the Social Hive, its Miami-based office built inside a refurbished warehouse in the Wynwood District. It also has signed rising acts like Puerto Rico’s Dalex and Panama’s Sech; together, their R&B take on reggaetón is leading Rich Music down a path of its own in a saturated urban market.
Background: Born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents, Rich, 49, launched his label 12 years ago to jump-start his brother’s short-lived musical career; through Rich Music, he got him a distribution deal with Epic Records. Six years later, after Rich’s car dealership closed during the recession, he turned to Rich Music full time and brought on Josh, now 30, as COO. “This was tooth and nail,” recalls Rich of running the family business from their small house. By the start of 2017, Rich had struck a distribution deal for Quiles through Warner, expanding the label’s reach.
Artists: In 2017, Rich signed Quiles’ producer, Dímelo Flow, as an artist, and also hired him as head of A&R. Dímelo Flow’s first success was turning the label onto Sech, a Panamenian artist who sings reggaetón with traces of dancehall and R&B. Rich Music signed him in 2018. “We liked the fact that he was different,” says Rich. Josh says the label’s goals are clearer than ever: “For Dalex and Sech to become superstars, and for Dímelo Flow to become the Latin DJ Khaled.”