WK Records Expands Operations to Brazil, Signs Lucy Alves
In an exclusive partnership with Central Sonora, the company has begun working with local artists while creating new opportunities for its global stars.
WK Records is expanding its operations to Brazil, where it has started to develop the careers of local artists while creating new opportunities in the country for the label’s international stars.
In an exclusive management and label partnership with Central Sonora — a Rio de Janeiro-based company led by Cesar Figueiredo — WK Records Brasil began quietly operating in 2022 and signed its first Brazilian artist that spring: popular singer-actress Lucy Alves, who released her first album under WK Records, Perigosíssima, in May.
“We signed Lucy because, at the end of the day, Lucy is a very talented multi-instrumentalist artist,” says Horacio Rodríguez, CEO of WK Records, in an exclusive interview with Billboard Español. “Many people think that she is an actress and then a [musical] artist, but it is the other way around,” he adds, recalling that Alves was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2016 before she made it on screen as the star of TV Globo’s soap opera Travessia and the Netflix series So Se For Amor.
Since then, the company has signed funk singer Elly, who released the single “Feitiçaria” with reggae band Os Hawaianos on Dec. 1, and Letícia Almeida, a singer-actress-model who debuted as a soloist on Dec. 8 with the single “Camomila” and who is working on an EP for this year. Other artists under Central Sonora that WK Records now shares as part of the agreement are DJ Zullu and Gabriel o Pensador. In the coming days, the company will announce another “very important signing,” of which Rodríguez could not provide details at the moment.
Brazil, Latin America’s largest market, is also one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. It was the 11th-largest music market in the world in 2021 with $391 million in revenue, a 32% jump from 2020, according to Brazilian labels body Pro-Música Brasil.
Founded in June 2020 by Walter Kolm — whose management company WK Entertainment represents Maluma, Wisin, CNCO, Carlos Vives, Silvestre Dangond and Prince Royce, among others — WK Records is a music and entertainment company based in Miami, which allows it to “serve as a bridge to the global music market and an incubator for artists from the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain and Latin America,” according to its website.
In 2021, WK Records — ranked as one of the top 10 Latin labels by Billboard — launched the Mexican division WKMX, dedicated to the regional Mexican music market. Then, in 2022, it set foot in Brazil, “a territory so different from the rest of Latin America that it requires its own operation,” Rodríguez notes.
“The Mexican regional operation, or the label, has been more of an A&R job of artistic development, of being there signing the artists, being able to compete in the market and really creating that musical foundation, as management and as a label,” he says. “In Brazil, we are a powerful and aggressive business unit, and we are also working on getting the artists that we manage to enter Brazil” in different ways.
For example, Prince Royce’s bachata hit “Te Robaré” now has a popular Brazilian music version in Portuguese, thanks to a partnership between WK Records Brasil and Sua Musica: “Tem Cabaré Essa Noite,” performed by Nivaldo Marques and Nattan, two artists who are not signed with WK.
The remake, which has over 200 million streams combined, according to data provided by Rodríguez, debuted at the beginning of July 2022 and reached No. 6 in the local Spotify ranking, while its music video, with over 122 million views, reached No. 1 on YouTube Brazil and held that spot for seven consecutive weeks.
For Rodríguez, WK Records Brasil is an ambitious project, especially as an independent company.
“It’s been a long road,” he says, “but fortunately so far, we’ve been pretty successful in what we want to achieve, and I think what’s coming up is also going to be big. We have big plans for the next few years.”