J Balvin & Cazzu's Manager Fabio Acosta Talks Post-Pandemic Industry: 'Latin Music is Here to Stay'

Cazzu, Fabio Acosta and J Balvin
Courtesy of Billboard Argentina

Cazzu, Fabio Acosta and J Balvin

The businessman and manager of artists such as J Balvin and Cazzu analyzes the complex situation of the music industry in the face of the pandemic. He also spoke to us about his career, the work required to position himself at the highest level worldwide and his passion for radio.

Colombian-born Fabio Acosta began his career in 2002, when he joined EMI Latin in Miami as an assistant to Lucas Piña, who at the time was the label's director of radio and promotion. From that platform, Acosta went on to launch his own independent radio promotion company, Akela Family Music.

"I worked with lots of artists, many number ones," he said. "Maná: Their hits on U.S. radio from 2008 to the present were done with Akela. I worked a few years with Daddy Yankee and Juanes, too. We developed Fonseca's career."

By then, Acosta already knew manager Rebeca León, whom he had met at EMI when she was the assistant to then-president Jorge Pino. "We always had a working relationship, even after she went elsewhere," he said.  "She called me one day and said: 'Look, I'm going to sign J Balvin." Leon hired Acosta to work on Balvin's project.

"What happened with José is history," says Acosta.

Where is the music business headed, and how do you think it will work after this pandemic?

I think a part of the music industry -- the live massive shows -- is going to be the last to bounce back, but I also think there is a huge opportunity for artists to keep releasing music. Since the beginning of this crisis, people have always found in music a way to get out of that lethargy and the impact generated by the drastic change caused by not being able to go out. This was seen in many parts of the world, such as Italy or Spain, with videos of people enjoying moments inside, at a distance, but with music.

Fans are there; they continue to consume and to watch. You cannot stop. The world does not stop. What stopped were the massive events and meetings, call it a disco, concert, party, whatever. This part of the music industry will definitely be the last to bounce back. Right now, we have an opportunity to come up with new ideas and to look for new ways to entertain the public.

One of your clients is Argentine rapper Cazzu, who's been having increasing success. How do you see Cazzu's artistic growth?

Cazzu is a wonderful artist. I think she has all the elements you look for in an artist. She is intelligent and very clear about her goal, her strategy and the vision of what her music is. She is very clear about how she wants to sound. She is an artist who offers a very different musical proposal, which, along with her personality, her image and her clarity will take her to the level we are looking for.

What do you think of the expansion of music in Spanish? Is it the golden age of Spanish-language songs?

I think that the easy access to music, the fact that you can have it through many platforms in any part of the world, has allowed music in Spanish to reach places where it couldn't before, simply because the radio only programmed in the local language. People are now looking for new things and can more easily discover music, and they've also understood that music in Spanish has interesting rhythms for them. Latin music is here to stay, and every day we have to work to conquer more corners of the world.

How do you develop your campaigns? How do you mix digital and analog media?

Any project of any musical format needs to have a planning and a strategy -- without that, you cannot achieve the results you are looking for. So, when you plan and create a strategy, you have to put each of the players in the puzzle, and the only way to complete it, is for each one to be in the right place. Everything is important.

Platforms today are the way to globalize music for any artist and music format. Radio, television, disco and social networks definitely play a very important role. On the other hand, the main input of this business is the songs. When an artist makes music or is going to release an album, they must always be very clear about the musical and graphic concept of what they want to present.

Can you give us an example of a great campaign?

In that sense, I believe Balvin's Colores is a perfect example of planning and a great strategy, having the players aligned. There are many very important players: the record company, the promoters, our agents, the promoters who hire us in each country, the media, the technical and administrative team, to name a few. All these are the people who help make all those concepts and the ideas that José had to release the album.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the album came out in a week where almost everyone decided in favor of a mandatory quarantine. But we had planned excellently. We had the material ready, prepared. As I said before, it was the way to continue encouraging people and to lift them up now that they're unable to go outside.

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