Henry Cardenas, founder and CEO of top Latin event promotion and production company CMN, talks about the beginnings of his friendship and business relationship with Marc Anthony, how Bad Bunny’s tour sold out in record time and why promoting live events is like going to Vegas.
Cárdenas is the final guest in the first season of Latin Hitmaker, the Billboard podcast that tells the stories of the visionary executives behind the artists and their hits and that features a new guest every Wednesday.
Here are some priceless nuggets from Cárdenas’ conversation:
On Bad Bunny’s ticket sales: I’ve never seen an artist sell as much as Bad Bunny in the time he did. He sold half a million tickets in two and a half hours. He crashed Ticketmaster. Things that hadn’t been seen before.
On Meeting Marc Anthony: I gave him $500 for his first gig. When he listens to these conversations he says I stiffed him! [laughs]. He was performing with a DAT and it broke down. So he sang three songs a capella, and people came up sand said, “Who is that guy? What a voice.” That was the beginning. We’ve been friends since then, through the good and the bad.
On building the Maestro Cares Foundation: Marc visited an orphanage I helped in Dominican Republic and told me: “What can we do?” And we built them a full house. We’ve built 23 projects so far throughout Latin America. Our objective is to put a grain of salt throughout Latin America, so that us, artists, the fans, do what Marc does […] to help vulnerable childhood throughout Latin America.
On realizing tour promotion was viable: After I did the Presidente Festival in the early 1990s in Santo Domingo. We had Ricky Martin, Shakira, Juan Gabriel. We had 63,000 people at the stadium in Santo Domingo. That’s when I thought, wow. We’ve come far.
On the importance of college: I studied accounting, which would seem to have nothing to do with tour promotion. But it has everything to do. I’m able to understand budgets. I briefly had an accounting firm but it was boring. And I decided to go into music. The only thing is, every time you promote a show, it’s like going to Las Vegas. It’s a very risky business.