The new venture — which will be headquartered in Medellín, Colombia — has been in the works for two years, which is when AfinArte’s CEO and founder, Luis Sánchez, initially proposed the idea to his team.
“The urban movement is so strong and has remained that way for many years so I thought, there’s something there,” the executive tells Billboard. “Music is music. You work it the same, but, most importantly, you have a good team behind it. We are dreamers and we’re people who go after those dreams.”
ArteFino comes nearly 10 years since the launch of AfinArte, which is led by Luis and his brother Eddie Sánchez, who serves as president of the label. Since then, AfinArte has become a powerhouse in the regional Mexican world with other marquee clients such as Voz de Mando and Adriana Rios.
Now, with ArteFino, Luis and his team plan to make a splash in the urbano space signing emerging artists from Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. But timing and finding the right people to join him on this adventure were everything for this launch, he says, which is why it took two years in the making.
“Being Mexican and trying to go into Colombia and all these big countries that are big in the urban world, I was like how do we just go in there? That was the million-dollar question for me.” It wasn’t until he met Arturo Muñoz in Colombia that he understood it was now or never. “When I met him I was like, he’s the guy. He was the missing piece of the puzzle.”
“When I was first approached by the team I was like, this sounds crazy,” says Muñoz, ArteFino’s A&R director. Formerly, he managed ChocQuibTown and was label manager at EMI. “I agreed to meet with them and I was surprised at how strategic they are and that’s when I realized, a job well done has no genre. A person who works well, works well anywhere. I’ve seen what they’ve done with their artists El Fantasma and Los Dos Carnales and it’s impeccable.”
After meeting up and agreeing to work together on this new venture, earlier this year they set up a camp in Colombia where they brought together 11 up-and-coming urban acts from all over Latin America. And it wouldn’t be just a songwriting camp, the artists would write, produce and perform what they created during their time there.
“Everyone can sing well with the right technology, but we wanted to see them perform, see their energy and onstage personality, that’s something they can’t hide. We set up a stage in the middle of the house we rented and they’d perform live in front of us with professional lights and all. That was our initial strategy,” adds Muñoz. “What excites me the most is that Luis didn’t want to sign artists that were already established, he wanted to start these artists from scratch. It’s really exciting to see an artist grow.”
New signees include Fifty and Robbie Vida. The first release via ArteFino is set for July 8 when Fifty drops his new track, “6:AM.”
Regional Mexican labels launching an urban label is unorthodox, but the challenge of it all is what keeps Luis going.
“A few years ago, I went with my compadre [Jorge Gaxiola], who is Voz de Mando’s lead singer, to a few meetings with other labels after their contract ended,” Luis shares. “But then I told him, ‘let’s have a meeting where you give me your point of view as an artist and I’ll give you my point of view as an entrepreneur.’ So he gave me a few notes on what he didn’t like from the industry. We opened AfinArte with everything he said in mind. His input was invaluable and that’s why things have worked out for us. We’ve been at this for a long time. I may be a crazy Mexican but I’m ready to compete with other urban labels.”
In addition to Luis and Muñoz, ArteFino’s team includes Ivan Sandoval (EVP of operations), Maria Inés Sánchez (marketing director), Ana Luisa Sosa (label manager) and Dennise Angulo (PR manager).