With clients including Marc Anthony, Nicky Jam, Ozuna, Bad Bunny, Maluma and Becky G, Cárdenas Marketing Network – led by founder and CEO Henry Cárdenas – has become a powerhouse in North America’s Latin market.
CMN’s independent booking, touring and marketing operations have blown up just as a new generation of Spanish-speaking concertgoers and crossover fans have opened up new markets throughout the U.S.
“The market has changed drastically in the last two years,” Cárdenas says. “We used to do tours with Vicente Fernandez, Juan Gabriel, all these icons, who would play a maximum 25 shows on one tour. Right now, we are doing 45 shows with Bad Bunny. Why is that? We are visiting markets that we’ve never been to: Seattle, Kentucky, Omaha, North Carolina. None of these big stars would play these markets before. Why is that? Because of the development of the Latino market.
“Ten, 15 years ago there were maybe 20,000 Latinos, mainly Mexicans, blue-collar workers [in these markets]. Since then, those 20,000 raised a family, had kids, so now there’s 60,000. And these Latinos are bilingual, and they love guys like Bad Bunny, so we can take him there… that’s why we can do 45,000 with Bad Bunny and Maluma.”
While CMN has in-house tools to book, produce and market its own tours, Cárdenas credits social media for giving his team the ability to reach the masses directly and expand operations. Last year, CMN reported 914,384 tickets sold, which landed it at as the No. 22 promoter on Pollstar’s Year End Worldwide Ticket Sales chart.
In 2019, the company is working on major treks from Marc Anthony, Maluma, Bad Bunny, Banda MS and Pepe Aguilar. But beyond big tours, Cárdenas said a key approach for CMN is investing in new talent, to avoid going through a talent lull similar to what the salsa and merengue genres once experienced. The company recently signed Sech, Justin Quiles, Raul Alejandro and Darkiel, who gained notoriety in his role as Nicky Jam in Netflix’s 2018 biographical series “Nicky Jam: El Ganador.”
Cárdenas said competing as an independent promoter has gotten dramatically harder since Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged — and that he now sleeps four hours a night instead of eight. But Cárdenas has survived by providing a high-quality experience and personal touch for his clients. When there are questions that need answering or deals to be negotiated, he takes the flight and seals the deal in person.
“When you promise something, you don’t do 100 percent, you do 120 percent,” Cárdenas says. “I’ve been delivering more than 100 percent, not only to my sponsors but to my performers. And that pays off, because my phone is ringing every day. They want to do business with me. They know that if CMN is going to produce the tour, I’m not gonna sell 80 percent, I’m gonna sell 100 percent. Whatever you promise, even if you lose, you’ve got to deliver. There is no excuse not to deliver.”
To emphasize his point, Cárdenas said his company still buys local media and builds relationships with local TV and radio outlets, rather than simply ordering a $20,000 media package with Univision or Telemundo.
No matter the obstacle, Cárdenas has learned to work hard no matter the competition and lives by the advice legendary promoter Angelo Medina gave him years ago: “Si se puede” – yes you can – and success is possible.