Don Omar Discusses 'Big Vast Social Network' at Billboard Latin Music Conference

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MIAMI -- Reggaeton star and web phenomenon Don Omar isn't just an artist these days. He also runs a record label, and attributes a large part of his success to navigating social media platforms as a way of reaching millions of fans globally.

Needless to say, the web has been essential for music artists as a way to evolve and create business ventures, as explored in the "My Big Vast Social Network" panel, sponsored by Musicol, Tuesday afternoon at the Billboard Latin Music conference.

Moderated by Telemundo VP of Integrated Solutions and Digital Media Borja Perez, speakers also included Alexandre Hohagen (Facebook VP for Latin America), Horacio Rodriguez (director of product development for Universal Music Latin Entertainment) and Rodrigo Paranhos Velloso (head of business development for Google Latin America).

For Don Omar, the web has allowed him to grow exponentially in the music business with the ability to develop talent through his record label Orfanato Music Group.

"Through some of these cyber networks we are able to reach many fans," said the rapper, whose fans on Facebook are approaching 5 million. "Artists can do good work, but if they don't have contact with their fan base, they may not know what their fans want."

The artist's access to his fans, he says, is a way for him to make decisions for his businesses that in some ways eliminate having to use traditional forms of marketing and press.

Hohagen said that it's important to think about the web as a way to providing people with information they would not otherwise have.

"I follow Don Omar," Hohagen said. "It's almost like a conversation. This is the first time the Internet and music are adding value to each other."

YouTube is the biggest online destination for music consumption, according to Paranhos Velloso.

"Youtube is not considered a social media site," he said, "but it's very much a social site. Justin Bieber is no Don Omar, but he was born on YouTube."

Social media platforms are the new way to expose people to music and that can be extremely critical to the development of an artist, Don Omar said.

At the end of the panel discussion, Don Omar was given several awards from Universal Music for his success as a recording artist, including recognition for having 1.5 digital downloads worldwide.

"It's important to keep it real," the Don Omar says. "I like knowing what my fans have in their hearts, what they like and what they are expecting. It brings me face to face with a bunch of people."