‘When Touring Was Off The Table, We Focused On Growing Brands’: Q’s With Narcis Rebollo, President Universal Music Spain & Portugal & GTS
Global Talent Services (GTS), is a management company that represents more than 30 artists, who are provided with a range of services focusing mainly on strategy and musical career guidance in partnership with their record company, which is usually Universal Music, of which GTS is a subsidiary.
Aside from some of the experience of some of the country’s most experienced managers and record executives, like Armand Martin, Luis Fernandez, Carlos Buenache, and Alejandro Asensi, among others, artists benefit from GTS’s finance, legal, booking, brands and ticketing departments. GTS also boasts a live and promotion division headed by Maricruz Laguna, which brings all departments together and books over 400 concerts every year for the artists the GTS manages, including international tours and the company’s own UMF Festival.
Pollstar reached out to Narcis Rebollo, president Universal Music Spain & Portugal & GTS, to talk shop.
Pollstar: Mr. Rebollo, do you remember the moment you fell in love with live music?
Narcis Rebollo: I have always been interested in music. I come from a family of music fans and a couple of family members are musicians. I played drums with a local band when I was in college, and I also worked on the radio as a DJ and producer. It all led up to me working in the music industry full time.
How was GTS launched?
Initially, we handled the management side for our first artist, David Bisbal, who is still one of the most successful and popular Latin pop artists attached to GTS. We managed his entire career strategy right from the outset, promoting his tours not only in Spain but also in territories, where we did not receive proposals that offered us the guarantees we needed, as well as the agreements with brands, A&R support, collaboration with talent shows, etc.
What are the most significant changes you’ve observed in the live talent space over the years? What’s the most important service you can offer an artist/a band in 2022? Previously, most of an artist’s revenue came from selling physical recordings of their music through their respective record companies. Today, their main revenue streams are live shows and brand partnerships. Nowadays, artists can interact with their fans, mainly through their own social media channels, and these exchanges provide us with valuable information that we can use to customize their concert experiences, sign deals with brands, and sell merch and fashion trends. An artist’s lifestyle forms part of their brand and their identity.
The best service we can provide is to engage with them beyond any one-time opportunity, not acting only as an agent or promoter arranging short or medium-term business for them, but by working on their strategy, their image, their growth, and their development in the future.
How have you helped your artists during these past two difficult years?
Even though these years have been tough, we have managed to offer a world-class service. When touring was off the table, we focused on growing their brand, signing artist image agreements, advertizing, talent shows, TV shows, fast fashion, licensing, etc. Furthermore, we focused on creating new sets, honing their engagement on social media, and capitalizing their content.
Some success stories you’d like to highlight?
The Operación Triunfo Anniversary concerts. We sold out the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium and generated substantial sponsorship agreements.
David Bisbal’s international acoustic tour visited more than 20 countries, with Bisbal performing in major venues around the world, including the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Teatro Real in Madrid, Olympia in Paris, etc.
The recent stadium tour we did with Alejandro Sanz, which we promoted in collaboration with his management office, Mow Management. Unfortunately, we had to interrupt the tour and will be completing it this year – adding two more stadium dates: Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid and Benito Villamarín in Seville – together with our sponsor Finetwork, with which we have signed the biggest and most significant sponsorship agreement in Spain in recent years.
You also operate outside of Spain, correct?
Yes, we also have offices abroad in Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, and USA. All these offices operate independently, but we support and provide services in other markets as needed. As promoters, we work in Europe, Mexico, USA, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Our latest success was five sold-out shows at Movistar Arena Bogotá with Morat, who are signed to GTS España.
Are ticket sales picking up now that things are open? Is the audience confident going back to shows? Does it differ between demographics?
Sales are definitely picking up, and the industry will be fully recovered this year. The only risk we should bear in mind is that supply is exceeding demand in some cases due to the new tours that are being added to previously sold-out shows that were rescheduled this year due to the pandemic.
Does Brexit cause any issue for artists touring between Spain and the UK?
Rather than a problem, it’s a new situation that generates more work and risks. The inconvenience of obtaining visas for artists from Latin America and the tax issue is leading us to reassess some of these new scenarios.
What’s next for GTS, what would you like to highlight?
GTS has been growing steadily over these last 10 years. We started out with just three people and today there are more than 30 staff employed exclusively by us in Spain, plus all the services we outsource, which can easily exceed 300 people, including technicians, musicians, and different professionals in the industry. The challenges are mainly the development, growth and consolidation of our artists abroad. Of course, we have our eye mainly on all the Spanish-speaking markets in the world, although the rest of the global markets are also increasingly gaining importance.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to underline the industry’s ability to diversify, collaborate and come together.
The sheer number of festivals in Spain, and the competition and rivalry among them that lead to unheard-of offers backed by their upscale sponsors, generate unrealistic price expectations for circuits and tours.
Lastly, I would like to stress the role that Big Data has played in making us more effective on all our platforms, social media and ticketing.