walmart Javier M. Delgado-Granados (Multicultural Marketing Manager, Walmart), and Julio Vega (VP of Latin Purchasing, Sales and Marketing, Music, Movies and Books, Anderson Merchandisers) discussing the impact of Walmart's Acceso Total. (Photo: Michael Seto)

The end of the first day of the Billboard Latin Music Conference closed out the afternoon's focus on marketing, and the message was clear: artists need brands these days as much as brands need the artists.

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Case in point, Walmart Acceso Total, a Spanish-language multimedia platform created by the big-box retailer giant four years ago. To discuss this in a short panel, Walmart's multicultural marketing manager Javier M. Delgado-Granados joined Julio Vega, VP of Latin Purchasing for Anderson Merchandisers, which supplies Walmart with its music. Walmart still accounts for a huge chunk of the physical sales that remain so important in the Latin industry.

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For Acceso Total, the artists and brand partnered to create a web portal with exclusive content, as well as cross-promotion with social media outreach, media partners, and even in-store content via TV-sale displays. This created impressive sales even during a sales slump last year that was particularly bad for Latin music. For instance, Walmart credits Acceso Total for helping move 70,000 copies of Romeo Santos' recent solo album at the retailer the first week of the album's release. The site's Santos-centric exclusive online content, meanwhile, garnered some three million views.

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Vega said this success carried beyond just Walmart itself. "The industry really benefited from this platform," he said, thanks to the store's awareness-raising of various releases. That doesn't stop with just megastars like Santos or Mexican rock act ManĂ¡, either. "We're still open to developing artists, because we recognize the importance of establishing artists for the future of our industry," Vega said.

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The last panel of the day, "From Santana to Lo Proximo," meanwhile focused on the growing importance of the Latin market to concert promotion giant Live Nation. The company has installed several Latin industry vets as heads of its programming and talent buying, including Manuel Moran as VP of Latin Programming. These seasoned pros expressed an almost evangelical mission in their Latin booking strategy. "We're always looking for the newest group to keep a genre going," said Carlos Orjuela, a Live Nation Latin talent buyer.

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Keeping genres going, of course, means more gigs for the artists involved, but also more opportunities for Live Nation to partner with brands who might work with those artists. "This is an organic part of who we are," said Terri Liebler, VP of Sales. "We have the capabilities to integrate into the lifestyle of concert-goers."

Another benefit to both artists and Live Nation: Neither have to depend on massive radio airplay to fully exploit these capabilities. "There are many concerts that are not radio-drive," said Moran. "There are many artists who you don't need to hear 20 times a day to still convince you to go to a concert."