Business Matters: Is Intocable The New Radiohead?
Business Matters: Is Intocable The New Radiohead?

Tejano/norteño fusion group Intocable, one of the most successful names in the regional Mexican music realm, has signed a global licensing deal with Universal Music Latin Entertainment for its upcoming studio album, has learned.

The deal also includes a revenue-sharing agreement for non-recording activities, including concerts, an unusual arrangement for a major regional Mexican act.

But that's not the only factor that makes the Intocable/UMLE deal noteworthy. In 2011, the Texas-based group went fully independent after more than a decade with EMI Latin. Not only did Intocable decide to release on its own Good I Music, but it opted for independent distribution as well (via Texas-based Dasma Distribution).

The group's latest studio album, "Intocable 2011," was priced at a low $8 retail price, and wasn't available in digital format until two weeks after its physical release.

The gamble paid off, with "Intocable 2011" debuting at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and it's single "Te Prometí" reaching No. 1 on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart.

But bandleader Ricky Muñoz says the group was eager to expand into other Latin American markets and could not do so effectively with an independent infrastructure.

"We did great as independents," says Muñoz, speaking from his home in Texas. "What convinced us to do this [sign with UMLE] is we're looking into other markets. We're looking at Colombia, Central and South America. They're also stronger than us in Mexico. So I said, 'Lets join forces.'"

Intocable tested the waters with UMLE with "Intocable 2011," which the label distributed and helped market and promote in Mexico. The results were positive enough that Intocable agreed to explore a more binding relationship for its upcoming studio set, slated for release in early 2013.

"In the end they did well as independents, but they felt the support of a company like Universal could further help," UMLE president Victor González says. "They liked the results and the relationship with the label. And they don't have the infrastructure to make the albums, sell them, and promote the shows in every market. We make music and we're also working different non recording opportunities."

Via its regional Mexican labels Fonovisa and Disa, UMLE has an effective promotional and marketing network for regional Mexican releases, particularly in Mexico and Central America.

Those factors also contributed to Intocable agreeing to share revenue and sign a licensing deal instead of a simple distribution deal. However, UMLE will also work closely with Intocable's promotional and press team in the United States.

"We signed something where we were comfortable and they're comfortable and everybody's happy at the end of the day," Muñoz says.

UMLE also has plans to work closely with Intocable in exploiting the group's hefty catalog, which includes 12 studio albums with EMI that will now fall under Universal.