By: Fredwill Hernandez
In its 29th year, and held annually, The Billboard Latin Conference & Awards, is the oldest and only conference catering strictly to Latin music, will take place at the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, [NV], from April 23 – 26, 2018.
The three-day conference which leads to the Billboard Latin Music Awards [held this year on Thur. – April 26th] brings together top music record labels, publishers, talent managers, and executives in other areas of Latin music to discuss, engage, and interact with conference attendees about new and creative ways of doing business in the ever changing Latin musical landscape.
Iconic Mexican rock band Maná, who were part of the 2013 Billboard Latin Music Conference, returns for their “Rock Star Q&A,” on Wed. – April 25. [Singer] Fher Olvera and [Drummer] Alex Gonzalez [of Maná], will have a conversation with Billboard’s Leila Cobo, about their philanthropic work through their Selva Negra Foundation, responsibility, artistry, and everything else [in-between] that has made them Latin music’s biggest and most influential rock band.
With the recent explosion of streaming across the board, the conference will host a “Fireside Chat with Pandora’s [CEO] Roger Lynch: Streaming for the Latin Fan,” on Wed. – April 25 [10-10:45 am], where Lynch will discuss numbers, stats, and how Latinos fuel engagement, how they will drive [forecasted] growth on Pandora’s on-demand service, and the important and relevant role [he feels] Latin music [and Latino’s] will [also] play in the company’s future.
In an era of 360 deals, where the physical is almost nonexistence, another marquee session addressing monetization and revenue streams, sponsored by Glad Empire, is the “Monetizing Around the World,” panel to be held on Tues. – April 24 [11-11:45 am], where exec’s from CinqMusic, Altafone, Glad Empire, and Onerpm will explain how collecting every cent, for every song, in every country, every time, from streaming and the [entire] digital content ecosystem adds up.
After an abrupt two year hiatus BMI [Broadcast Music, Inc] returns with their sponsored and popular “How I Wrote that Song” panel on Tues.- April 24 [4 – 4:45 pm], to be moderated by Delia Orjuela, VP Creative Latin, BMI, with panelist that include Edgar Barrera, IAMCHINO, Alta Consigna’s Aaron Gil, Jorge Gomez, Urban artist Justin Quiles, and Motif who in 2016 won a Latin Grammy under the Best Tropical Fusion Album category for his production/engineering work on Gente De Zona’s Visualízate.
During BMI’s absence, coincidently, the Billboard Latin Music Conference [BLMC], did not have a “Popular Mexican Music” panel which this year returns with the highly anticipated “Rise of the Mexillenials,” panel, to be moderated by Latin music [radio] veteran Pepe Garza, Programmer, Qué Buena, KBUE-FM [Los Angeles], to be held Tues.- April 24 [11-11:45 am], with panelist that include Ulices Chaidez, Virlán Garcia, Adriel Favela, Christian Nodal, Cornelio Vega Jr., and Jesus Mendosa “El Rayo de Oro.”
“I’m humbly grateful and excited for the invitation to be part of such an important panel, with important colleagues who like me have a dream, it’s emotional, to see [and hear] different perspectives and opinions, and to also have input, I think it will be great,” explains Gerencia 360’s exclusive recording artist [Adriel] Favela, who will soon be releasing the first single titled “Cuando Los Necesité” [Spanish for “When I Needed You’ll”] of his new [as of yet] untitled album in which eleven of the twelve songs [all] penned by him, will feature collaborations.
Coincidently also, Luis Del Villar, CEO/Founder, Gerencia 360, the man credited with discovering and signing, Favela, and introducing the singer/songwriter, who also plays five instruments and produces, to the masses, will be a panelists on “The New Starmakers” panel, to be held Tues. – April 24 [9:15 – 9:45 am], that will also include [on the Urban side] Vicente Saavedra, VP Entertainment/Dimelo Vi, the man behind Ozuna’s career, and Noah Assad, Rimas Music, the man behind Bad Bunny’s success, as they explain their views on the industry and what It took and takes to reach the level of success their company’s and artists currently have.
“The proper name for our music is “Popular Mexican Music” [Spanish for “Musica Popular Mexicana”], the number one reason our music hasn’t grown is because the executives or the people running the genre or the music space that effects us directly, when you say [or use] the word regional, they think small, they think territorial. Twenty or twenty-five years ago when that name was coined for our genre, it was given by a DJ who didn’t have much of a [personal] vision going on to the digital era, but because of digital today we are no longer “regional,” no longer “territorial.” Our music is being consumed around the globe and we have the data and analytics to back it up,” explained Del Villar, as one of the things he plans to address during the [New Starmakers] panel, who also believes that stars are born. “The executives or the people in music, we shouldn’t refer to our music today as “Regional Mexican,” but “Popular Mexican Music,” since it’s popular around the globe, it’s the proper name, we shouldn’t minimize our own music, ourselves. It starts with every single person that has a position within music that is going to take responsibility and name it correctly, so that ones and for all, our music can get the recognition we deserve for the people that came before us, [for] the people that are currently working, but more “importantly” for the ones that are coming, because the Internet is here to stay and our music is going to be heard around the globe as long as there’s WiFi.”
Bad Bunny, and Ozuna, both who hail from Puerto Rico will return from being panelists during last year’s BLMC “Latin Trap” panel, to individually sitting down to explain what has happened in their unique [and slightly different] musical careers.
Ozuna, currently the Urban artists with the most songs on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart will sit down for a conversation during “Ozuna, Making the Hits Live,” with producers Hi-Flow and Yampi to breakdown how his top hits were conceived, produced, and recorded, taking place on Tues. – April 24 [11:45 – 12:15 pm].
Bad Bunny, also returns as “The New [Spanish] Trap King: Bad Bunny,” which will be an intimate conversation with Leila Cobo, Executive Director, Latin Content & Programming, Billboard, about his fashion, [lyrical] content, and [I predict his] many collaborations, taking place Tues. – April 24 [2:45 – 3:15 pm].
Another interesting marquee session will be “Women In The Lead,” moderated by Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker, Presidential Leadership Scholar, with panelist that include female music exec’s Rocio Guerrero, Spotify, and Rebeca Leon, Lionfish Entertainment, and recording artists’ Becky G, Yuridia, and Karol G, to be held Wed. – April 25 [12 – 1 pm], which will address underrepresentation of minorities [specifically] women in film, TV, and even more so, in music. During the panel, Billboard will reveal whether women are represented or not on Billboard’s Latin charts. During the panel research conducted by Dr. Stacy Smith of University of Southern California [USC], also a panelist, will be discussed among opinions from the Leading Ladies in music about the topic which will serve as a interesting dialogue of how [possible] change can eventually occur across the board.