As the recently appointed senior VP of Capitol Latin, Diana Rodriguez is the first woman to head a U.S. Latin label, overseeing the path of artists such as Juan Luis Guerra, Ricardo Montaner, Belinda, Anahí and Vico C. Rodríguez takes over a Latin division which is more integrated to Capitol’s overall operations than before, reporting to both Billy Mann, president of new music, international as well as global artist management for EMI Music; and to Colin Finkelstein, regional president for EMI Music in North America. A native of Colombia who has long worked in the music industry, Rodriguez was most recently EMI’s VP of Latin repertoire.
Capitol Latin [until a few months ago EMI Latin] has seen its marketshare decline steadily in this country for the past five years. How are you planning to counteract that?
Since EMI completed a major reorganization that started in 2008 we’ve undergone a transformation, and have emerged with a stronger business on an operational and creative level. It’s true, we had a big year in ’06, with two massive RBD records. And now, we are rebuilding and reshaping the roster. We are definitely looking to grow our urban and regional Mexican business.
We will continue to find and develop great creative talent, breaking new artists and working with established artists to build their careers even further. In addition to helping our artists sell more records, we can now offer many more services and options for helping them connect with audiences and generate more revenue through new consumer marketing capabilities and new services such as merchandising.
One of your early actions was signing duranguense signer Diana Reyes. How important is regional Mexican to your goals?
This is a market where regional Mexican represents over 70% of sales. We used to be landmark label for that. We were Selena’s home. And we have this amazing catalog.
You mentioned the development of merchandising services. This is still relatively new to the Latin music business.
Merchandising hasn’t impacted Latin because we haven’t been actively involved, but we will actively this year. Mexico had a couple of initiatives with some of its key artists and it’s been very positive. I don’t believe merchandising is for every act, but you have to be very careful about what kind of merchandising you actually deliver. It’s not just about putting a t-shirt; it’s about understanding the behavior of their consumer. Jaguares and Selena, for example, are acts who have a solid fan base and can have merchandising. With some other acts, we will wait a little more.
Capitol Latin now has a completely different structure than before. In fact, you moved to Los Angeles from Miami. How does that affect your way of doing business?
It breaks the boundaries for international exploitation of our artists. We have the new Juan Luis Guerra album coming in June, for example. He is a big seller in Europe and in Japan. And this is one of the artists that we will potentially cross over into other markets. What’s great about becoming part of the Capitol structure is you get to pull from so many different resources. It doesn’t mean only collaborations; it means cross promotion, cross marketing. And there are a lot of things we will bring to them as well. Latino promotion is a big chunk of the markets.
Also, being in Los Angeles gives us a better scope of the industry. Not just the music but also the entertainment industry. And it’s also about being closer to the Capitol North America team.
What has surprised you about the marketplace since you took over your job?
Synching has surprised us, because it’s opened up the world. We have a whole different division of brand partnerships and TV synchs for all the projects, so they definitely reach out and you see results. Mexico just closed a Belinda Coke Zero commercial, for example. That’s one of the fields that definitely surprises you because it has so much potential.
This is the first time that I recall a woman running a Latin label in this country. Why do you think this hasn’t happened before?
I couldn’t pin-point the reason, but I’m glad EMI made that leap of faith. Their decision I think had more to do with the work they’ve seen from me during the years and less about me being a woman.
The Latin music industry is a great industry and it’s very challenging. If you’re around long enough, there will certainly come a time in your career when you will have to step up to the plate or you step down. I believe its helped that I came from the radio promotion field, and grew from the bottom up. In a sense, I really had to become “one of the guys” to do my job effectively. But in a world where women are a dominant force as artists, as well as fans, I’m delighted to inject a female influence where I can.