A half-century after its founding, Fania Records is experiencing a renaissance. The iconic Latin music label is capping off its 50th anniversary by signing with CAA, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
Founded by Dominican Republic-born bandleader Johnny Pacheco and attorney Jerry Masucci in New York City in 1964, Fania went on to represent artists including Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Ismael Miranda, Ruben Blades, Cheo Feliciano and Roberto Roena. That roster firmly established the label as the definitive home for genres such as Latin big band, Afro-Cuban jazz, boogaloo, salsa and Latin R&B.
Masucci became Fania’s sole owner in 1967 (Pacheco stayed on as artistic director), and when he died in 1997, the label, which had fallen dormant for decades, became entangled in probate court. Miami-based Emusica Entertainment Group purchased Fania’s assets from Masucci’s estate for a reported $9 million to $12 million in 2005 (ownership was later transferred to Codigo Group). The new management got to work sorting through its newly acquired catalog (it eventually unearthed almost 3,000 albums, 3,000 compositions and approximately 10,000 master tracks) and remastering and reissuing them for a new generation of listeners.
The new Fania has been adroit at adapting to changing times. In 2013, the label resumed profitability with approximately a quarter-million albums sold, most of them via digital download. In April, the label partnered with Spotify to launch a dedicated Latin-music app, a first for the genre. The app makes Fania’s entire digital catalog available for streaming, along with visually rich artist pages and a timeline of the label’s 50-year history. This year, Fania also issued digital compilation albums and DJ remixes and partnered with Central Park’s SummerStage program for a concert series that married its classic tunes with “new school artists,” including DJ Turmix, Canyon Cody, Timothy Brownie and Whiskey Barons.
“Fania has evolved into a robust entertainment brand,” Codigo CMO Michael Rucker said in a statement. “CAA, with its breadth and depth of expertise in harnessing the power of pop culture, will guide us as we move forward into new creative and business territory and introduce us to a broader fan base.”
This article originally appeared in THR.com.