When Dale Play Records launched in 2018 as a one-stop shop for artists — providing management, publishing and label services — its founder, Federico Lauría, had a simple goal: support Argentina’s rising trap scene. “We saw a real movement happening here, and all these artists were coming from the streets, winning freestyle battles,” recalls Lauría, citing up-and-coming acts like Duki. The 38-year-old CEO met with the 24-year-old Argentine rapper in 2017 and, eager to sign him to a recording contract, formed his own label and made Duki its first act.
Now, following Dale Play’s exclusive partnership with Sony Music this year, the label has grown its roster to 10 acts, becoming home to some of Argentina’s top trap artists and producers, including Nicki Nicole, who is up for best new artist at the 2020 Latin Grammys. Says Lauría: “It has been two years since we launched, but in those two years, we’ve grown so much.”
While Dale Play may be relatively new, Lauría has worked in the industry for 20 years, launching his first company, Lauría Management, in 2000 at age 18 and developing local acts like pop star Axel. Ten years later, he founded Lauría Entertainment, a live venture that produced the first-ever Buenos Aires Trap Festival and sold-out South America arena shows for Maluma, J Balvin and Bad Bunny. “We united international phenomena with local ones,” says Lauría. “Soon you had Bad Bunny and Duki collaborating and singing together onstage in Argentina.”
After signing Duki in 2018, Lauría added Nicki Nicole and producer Bizarrap, 22, to Dale Play’s roster — he also manages them all. “Duki posted about Nicki on social media, writing, ‘We have a new boss in town,’ ” recalls Lauría of how he discovered the 20-year-old rising trap star who has collected nearly 7 million on-demand U.S. audio streams, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. “When I listened to her music, I went crazy and signed her instantly.” He adds: “All these artists come from the same place — the streets — but they’re all doing something different.”
Both Nicki Nicole and Duki scored their first Latin Grammy nominations this year. Duki, whose catalog has earned 44.6 million on-demand U.S. audio streams, is vying for best urban fusion/performance for his feature on “Hablamos Mañana” with Bad Bunny and Pablo Chill-E — which has raked in 33.7 million on-demand U.S. audio streams, while its video has 42 million views on YouTube — plus best rap/ hip-hop song for “Goteo.”
With 12 employees on staff, the indie label opened a new office in Miami this year; Lauría had hoped to open one in Spain as well, but due to the ongoing pandemic, he says it now depends on whether he can travel there in the coming months. Meanwhile, he assures that his label will “continue to grow alongside the trap movement in Argentina. What’s happening [here] is huge and genuine, artistically speaking — and we want to be part of that.”