Afo Verde, the chairman/CEO of Sony Music Latin-Iberia, was fetted as Billboard’s Latin executive of the year in a private cocktail party at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach.
Verde, who has led Sony through a banner year that has the label and its owned distributor, The Orchard, with a 45.1% of the U.S. Latin marketshare, accepted his award in front of a crowded room that included over 100 Latin executives from across the board. The big surprise of the evening was the person giving him the award: Romeo Santos, one of Verde’s marquee artist.
“Not everyone can get me out of my house on a Monday evening,” quipped Santos, looking at a visibly surprised Verde. “When I met Afo, I asked him, ‘Do you have kids?’ He said he had a dog. But after a few years, I proved Afo was lying, because he has more than 100 children [his artists]. But among them, honestly –and I may get in trouble for saying this— he has some spoiled ones, and I’m one of those. This award is not enough for him, because he deserves much more. I know I speak for myself and for his other artists. He’s a friend, an ally and a father to many of us.”
Verde, in turn, called Santos a “leader” among artists, who had dared break parameters in music.
Verde also spoke about Latin music’s extraordinarily fertile moment, and referenced a prior speech from SBS Entertainment president Albert Rodriguez, who said Latin music is not having a moment, but a movement.
This year’s Latin Power Players celebration coincided, for the first time, with Billboard Latin Music Week. The week of panels, conversations and shows sold out, with over 1,000 people in attendance.