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Bogota Music Market: 5 Takeaways From Henry Cárdenas' Inspiring Chat

Henry Cárdenas
Courtesy Photo

Henry Cárdenas 

On the third day (Sept. 16) of the Bogotá Music Market, Billboard's Leila Cobo sat down with Henry Cárdenas, owner and president of event and concert promotion firm Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN) for the weekly daily "inspiring" conversation.

During the chat, the pair talked about the impact the COVID-19-imposed lockdown has had on the live industry, when shows are likely to resume again and how he met his longtime friend and business partner Marc Anthony.

Cárdenas was part of a number of panelists featured on BOmm's first all-digital edition with programming that includes 20 panels, workshops and showcases running through Sept. 18. The full program and viewing instructions can be accessed here.

Below, find five takeaways from the nearly one-hour chat with Cárdenas.

On staying hopeful: 

"You know, we were in the middle of 88 shows when we had to postpone them all because of the pandemic. I had to let go of 100 people. I've decided to not dwell on it because it's not good for my health. I haven't seen the light yet but I'm staying hopeful. I think we'll see the light after Nov. 3."

On when shows are likely to resume: 

"It's not in our agenda to close down our offices but instead, to be ready when we go back to 'normal.' We don't know when things will start up again. I always try to find a solution to every problem but here, you look for a solution and there's no solution. When this all started, we moved our shows to June, then January and now it's looking like August 2021 when we resume. And we think, oh when there's a vaccine we'll go back to normal but we don't know that. And we don't even know how the vaccine would be distributed. And, we're in a bad shape financially because most live show insurances don't cover stuff like a pandemic."

Will ticket prices go up once shows resume? 

"We don't know how people will be doing financially. Every event will be case by case. We'll see how the consumer responds to the ticket sales and we all (from promoters to artists) have to adjust, we've done it before. The economy and the consumer dictate how much we can charge or what the artist can charge."

On meeting Marc Anthony in New York: 

"After living in Chicago for a while and start promoting small events there, I went to New York to do a festival there. I met Marc Anthony while in New York. He wasn't famous or anything but he was a songwriter and writing freestyle. I got a gig to produce a rodeo for Antonio Aguilar and asked Marc to sell the tickets at the door. I set up a table for him and he had to sit there from 9am to 6pm selling tickets. And, he did it.

Now we're business partners and through our organization Maestro Cares, we opened our first orphanage after we visited one in the Dominican Republic and saw the conditions these kids were living in. I thought, 'let's do an orphanage for them.' And we did. We've done many more projects to help kids in countries like Guatemala, Colombia and Costa Rica."

BOmm, which is put together by Bogota’s Chamber of Commerce, is perhaps best known for its business speed-networking sessions, which will pair 250 Colombian artists and bands with national and international agents, managers and talent buyers representing venues and festivals. The market is also offering networking between agents, plus, for the first time, 15 established Colombian acts who will be able to meet, virtually, with international buyers.

In addition to panels and meetings, BOmm will also feature 19 showcases scheduled during the five conference days, with an emphasis on acts steeped in folklore like Puerto Candelaria and Rolling Ruanas. Although the speed networking sessions are closed, anyone can register to virtually attend the panels and conversations, or watch the showcases. Panels include a guide to indie releases hosted by CD Baby and a panel on musical journalism.