On Wednesday, the T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer Research will honor Latin music executives Walter Kolm and Alexandra Lioutikoff during its fourth annual Martell in Miami charity dinner. Kolm is the founder and CEO of WK Entertainment and Lioutikoff is the president of Universal Music Publishing for Latin America & U.S. Latin.
The foundation was founded in 1975 by music industry executive Tony Martell in memory of his son T.J., who died of leukemia. The event will raise awareness and funds for T.J. Martell’s medical research, which is focused on finding treatments and cures for cancer. Martell Miami continues the music industry’s longstanding support for the foundation, but with an emphasis on the Latin music industry.
On the eve of Martell in Miami, Billboard spoke with Kolm and Lioutikoff about the meaning of Martell and giving back.
Why is T.J. Martell and its work important or significant to you ?
Lioutikoff: Philanthropy and giving is a wonderful part of both this country and our industry. My mother-in-law had cancer (eight years in remission!) so I understand what it can do to families.
Kolm: Cancer can affect all of us. I lost one of the most important people in my life to cancer, and the fact that we can come together as an industry to help this cause is incredible to me.
What does being honored by TJ Martell represent or mean to you?
Liuotikoff: I was really humbled when they told me I would be receiving it. When I lived in New York, I always knew about their events and what they meant to our industry, and I am glad that T.J. Martell is working so close with our community in Miami to raise more awareness.
Kolm: It means a lot. It’s an award to my trajectory and to receive it in front of the many people in the industry who have supported me in my career, the artists I represent, my team and my family is something very special.
How can the Latin music industry do more for causes that affect our communities?
Liuotikoff: I think T.J. Martell starting up in Miami for the Latin music business is a great first step. As industry leaders I think it’s important for us to make our artists understand how important it is to give back.
Kolm: Latin music is the most heard genre in the world right now. As an industry, we need to use this global platform to highlight the causes that most affect our communities.
What does the Latin world need to learn or improve in terms of philanthropy?
Lioutikoff: Personally I feel the Latin world is a little more reactive then pro-active when it comes to giving. We’re really good about reacting to events, but I think we need to do a better job of focusing longer term on how we can be charitable.
Kolm: We need to better use our voice and power to help our community.
What conversations do you have with your artists in terms of philanthropy?
Kolm: Philanthropy is very top of mind for my artists. Maluma has his foundation, El Arte de los Sueños (The Art of Dreams). Carlos Vives also has his own foundation in Colombia, Tras la Perla. CNCO just played a benefit concert for the Latin Grammy Foundation. And Silvestre Dangond and Wisin are always supporting different foundations in their communities. For all my artists, giving back is part of their DNA and their mission.