Live Nation’s Manuel Moran

Manuel Moran, Live Nation VP of Latin Programming & Touring, has put together the first-ever Latin Alternative Festival at the House of Blues Sunset in Los Angeles.

It’s a one-day affair on July 7, headlined by Panteon Rococo and Los Bunkers.

Clearly the event doesn’t impact the music business on a worldwide basis, but Moran – who toured for years with his band Banda MR-7 – can speak to having the passion to create this event, how Live Nation will build it, how to keep the price low and how fantastic some of the music is from Southern California and Mexico, much of which will be introduced to the U.S. for the very first time.

So how did this come together?

This festival came together because we discovered over the past four years, as we initiated the Latin club division at Live Nation, that many of the bands tour the United States and sell tickets, but they’re independent, have no label, and don’t have what we’d call a music business structure. A perfect example is Panteon Rococo. They come to the U.S. a couple times a year, doing tours of 15 to 20 dates. They don’t have airplay or a multinational label. There’s little album sales on SoundScan. But they do sell their tickets. But they come to Anaheim, to San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, New York, and they do sellout business at clubs.

We discovered there are a lot of bands with a long history of coming to the U.S., bands like Molotov that do not necessarily need to have airplay or a label to exist. People look for them online, probably remember them from back in the day and just want to see them.

We noted there’s a huge necessity for bands to come to the U.S. and build crowds from the stage, not from the label or radio. We spoke with Panteon Rococo and told them, “There’s more bands like you, and they have dreams to be like you. Are you open to an opportunity where you headline a festival at the House of Blues Sunset in a very intimate atmosphere? We want to find the next Panteon Rococo, with great talent, great stage presence, and they just need to be showcased in front of your crowd.”

If you see the lineup, you have Panteon Rococo, which tours internationally, then we have the amazing Los Malacates Trebol Shop from Guatemala, which I believe will be the next big independent band. Then you have a lot of artists that are mostly from the Southern California area, like ska band Roncovacoco, La Santa Maria, Sonoclip – all those are artists that have all the potential to not just be independent but to be able to tour the U.S. I have a lot of faith for all on the lineup. We’re very proud that we’re going to showcase all these artists in a nice environment. We’re going to use two stages, we’re going to open doors at 2 p.m. From there we’re going to have shows through the day until after midnight. It’s just going to be a fun day at HoB.

How do you do two stages at the HoB?

We’re going to do the main stage and then we’ll do a small stage at the Crossroads, the HoB restaurant. We’ll do showcases with acts like Armando Palomas and El Gordo. Some of the artists will be from Mexico City but they’ve never played in the U.S.

Next year we’re looking to do a stage in the parking lot. We’re working on the permits. L.A. City has already given us the approval but we want to get prepared to do it in summer 2013. We’ll bring in more co-headliners and do something really cool out there.

When do tickets go onsale?

They’re onsale now. They’re $25 plus ticket fees. Every time Panteon Rococo comes to the U.S., tickets are under $25. With the help and support of sponsors we were able to bring in all this talent and still keep the price at $25.

Are they selling well?

They are. But Panteon Rococo is always a last-minute ticket seller. The first time we brought them to the House of Blues, their crowd waited for the last three or four days to buy their tickets. But they’ve always sold out the room. We know this will be a sellout.

Los Tigres del Norte has been known to have 100 percent walkup.

Sometimes. And that scares the music industry a lot! (laughs). A lot of the Latin shows are like that. And when you have a huge break-even, it keeps everyone nervous.

How long did this take to put together?

We worked for six months or more on this project. The plan next year is to go with an outdoor stage and then, in 2014, adding another date. The ultimate goal is to have a three-day Latin Alternative Festival at the House of Blues Sunset.

So at this price, are a lot of the bands willing to be flexible?

That is correct. Everyone is very flexible. Everyone knows it’s a great opportunity to showcase their music. Everyone knows they have a great band and great music but are looking for opportunities to showcase. I strongly believe, right now in the music business, the biggest opportunity for a band to show what they’re really about is the stage. Right now it’s very easy to reach out to music. Anyone can see a video of any artist in the world just by logging online. And that will give them some attention, but when you see a band live and you enjoy the show? You do remember that band for the rest of your life.