In an Instagram Live video that has nearly two million views, Christian Nodal, one of the most successful regional Mexican acts in the market with 2.1 billion U.S. career streams to-date, announced he no longer has a recording contract with Universal Music Latino.
Nodal’s IG Live came in response to a “veto” issued by his label. According to the Los Angeles Times, along with other sources in the industry, Universal sent out a letter asking interested parties to refrain from distributing, marketing and/or promoting recordings with Nodal. (Billboard does not have a copy of the missive.)
“I’m doing this live because I want to clarify things. Many fans are worried with what’s happening with me and my career these past few days,” said 22-year-old Nodal, who in April broke the record for most No. 1s among soloists in Billboard’s Regional Mexican Airplay chart. “I don’t have a contract with Universal. Universal didn’t want me to leave but I’ve given them five years of my work and I did what I was supposed to do. I worked hard giving my 100%.”
At press time, Universal had not provided a statement to Billboard.
Coincidentally, Nodal’s IG Live took place at the peak of Paulo Londra and Big Ligas’ very public contract dispute, which was resolved amicably in a Miami courtroom on Wednesday morning after a two-year legal battle. Big Ligas alleged breach of contract while Londra, who was signed to the indie label at age 19, filed his own suit accusing Big Ligas partners Cristian Salazar and Ovy on the Drums of fraud and negligent representation. The dueling lawsuits put a spotlight on the perils of young acts signing contracts without properly understanding the legal ramifications and obligations of their deals.
Nodal is the most recent in a spate of young artists who have taken to social media to air their grievances with labels. On Friday (Nov. 5), in front of the 22,000 viewers that had tuned in to watch his IG Live, Natanael Cano announced he wants out of his contract with Rancho Humilde, the indie label that signed him in 2019.
During the 11-minute conversation with his fans, the 20-year-old corridos tumbados artist invited his manager, Jimmy Humilde, Rancho Humilde’s CEO, to join him on the live. Once Humilde joined, Cano disclosed, “Jimmy doesn’t let me release an album.” To which the music executive responded, “Don’t start with that. Never and you know that. Send me a song so I can hear it.”
Right after, Humilde left the Live and Cano went on to say that he wanted to release an album “on my own without Rancho Humilde. I’ve worked for them enough.” He also acknowledged that he “hadn’t done things right” while trying to leave Rancho Humilde but, “I have eight albums with Rancho Humilde of which I own nothing. I need Jimmy to let me out. I want to release an album under my own company, corridos tumbados.”
Rancho Humilde declined to comment on the matter or on the nature of Cano’s contract.
In a traditional label deal, artists are given recording advances, but the label finances and retains full ownership of the recording masters, with artists earning money from royalty payments against their advance. But regardless of the fairness or unfairness of a deal and of what is discussed or not on social media, once contracts are signed, disputes need to be resolved legally, as Londra found out.
That, Nodal said in his Instagram Live, is what he did, obtaining an order from a judge in Mexico.
“I have a federal judge’s order that denies whatever Universal is asking for. I can continue to collaborate with any artist I want. There’s new music coming out soon, many surprises. I’m at the peak of my career. Don’t believe what they’re saying, I’m not vetoed,” he said in his Live.