Q’s With Eric Duars, CEO Of Duars Entertainment: The Manager And Label Head On Breaking Rauw Alejandro And Puerto Rico’s Musical Explosion

Photo courtesy of Eric Duars

Eric “Duars” Pérez Rovira is the forward-thinking founder and CEO of Duars Entertainment, the label phenom and management company he’s positioned as one of the leading and independent companies in Latin music. Forming his business in 2009, the 40-year-old artist manager is on another level in terms of scouting new talent and building the careers of reggaeton legends like Don Omar and Angel y Khriz. Among his latest triumphs is the massive breakthrough of Rauw Alejandro, the Grammy-nominated superstar who exploded on the live scene this year. In October, Alejandro drew stadium numbers at an arena drawing some 60,960 over the course of four sold-out nights at Coliseo de Puerto Rico, grossing a staggering $3,140,925, according to Pollstar Boxoffice Reports. We caught up with the visionary entrepreneur, who had just landed in P.R. following Alejandro’s shows in Colombia and Mexico, to find out more about his successes. (Editor’s note: this interview was conducted in Spanish and translated to English.)

Pollstar: Duars Entertainment has established itself as one of the leading Latin indie labels on the market. Let’s start with a few early highlights.  

Eric Duars: In 2014 we started releasing great work by Zion & Lennox and later with De La Ghetto and Brytiago. There are lots of releases we can highlight, but the commonality with the artists and music we release is that we really put an ear toward what we’re producing. We look at what’s going on in the market and what song is needed. We figure out the pieces needed and trends that are working. We go all out. When we drop a release, we release it like it’s the biggest track, no matter what. I think that’s part of the success we’re having. 

You represent one of the biggest names in Latin music right now, Rauw Alejandro. What was it about him that first caught your attention? 

His confidence. When I met Rauw, I was already managing multiple artists. At that time, two caught my attention: him and Rafa Pabön. I started asking [Rauw] for music and to come to the studio. We established a relationship with what he was doing at the time and the light bulb went on. That was at the end of 2016, and I signed him in January 2017.

How has that evolution been and positioning him as one of the most important artists in the genre?

It’s really a team effort. It’s not just one person’s thing. We’ve been able to select great people to work with us, from producers to collaborating artists to the publicity team. Sony has helped a lot, too. We’ve all been able to do our bit, and contribute like a grain of sand, and it worked. There are many factors: First you have to click with the artist and his ideas – and that’s a whole world apart. If you are not receptive to their ideas or creativity, you might not go far in the music market. It’s more about intuition than anything else. Then it’s about knowing how to reach the audience and start building from there. Like that’s going to be the perfect platform to put your music on. But the main factor is understanding the artist’s ideas and knowing how to take it from there.

Last year Rauw Alejandro had four back-to-back concerts at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan – a historic moment in his career. What did that mean for you and the rest of the team?

It was four headlining shows [selling out] in 24 hours. We thought we could sell out one night, but we were very surprised how quickly we sold out the first one. We had over 70,000 people on queue waiting to purchase tickets and that got us to open all four shows. We had a great response from fans. In Puerto Rico, it’s the biggest feat to play there. To do this was really impressive and historic for all of us.

During that time, if a concertgoer wasn’t vaccinated, they couldn’t attend the concerts. I came up with the idea of streaming it live, so we partnered with about 32 movie theaters, which also all sold out, so fans could see the show in real time and enjoy it.

A new generation of Puerto Rican musicians are achieving global success like never before, breaking streaming records, topping the charts, selling out arenas, and landing on mainstream magazine covers – what is in Puerto Rico’s water that is nurturing artists with unique creativity?

Coconut water with Bacardi [laughs]. Puerto Rico is a happy country, rich in musical roots with lots of culture. We have strong traditions in salsa, bomba, and la plena [native Puerto Rican genres that remain embedded in contemporary music like reggaeton.] Also, about every kid here in Puerto Rico played at ballparks and impersonated their favorite artists at talent shows … I mean, what’s not more cultural [for forming talent] than that? 

What’s next for Duars Entertainment? 

Right now, we are developing a few artists like Cauty and Eix, as well as a regional Mexican music artist named Cynthia. As for Rauw, his first single drops this June from his third album, due in September.