Latin Recording Academy CEO Manuel Abud & ‘The 4G’ Strategy

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RED CARPET MOMENT: Manuel Abud, CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, stops on the red carpet during the 2021 Latin Grammy Special Awards Presentation at the Four Season Hotel in Las Vegas Nov. 17, 2021. (Photo by Omar Vega / WireImage)

When the Latin Grammy Awards presentation takes place on Nov. 17, it will mark the culmination of a massive year for Latin Recording Academy CEO Manuel Abud and his team, thanks to the explosive growth of artists both old and new.

The Biggest Night In Latin Music takes place at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, and will be broadcast by Univision.

Hosted by Anitta, Luis Fonsi, Laura Pausini and Thalía, the show’s performances from Christina Aguilera, Camilo, Elvis Costello, Jorge Drexler, John Legend, Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández, Ángela Aguilar, Rauw Alejandro, Marc Anthony, Banda Los Recoditos, Chiquis, Nicky Jam, Jesse & Joy, Carin León, Sin Bandera, Sebastián Yatra, and the 2022 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Marco Antonio Solís help to personify the depth and breadth of Latin music.

That diversity is at the core of what Abud calls “The 4Gs” – genre, geography, gender and generation – a strategy that takes into consideration those four factors in everything the Latin Recording Academy does, and especially within its membership.

“As the leading organization for Latin music, we strive to nurture, celebrate, honor, and elevate Latin music and its makers around the world,” Abud tells Pollstar. “We are an inclusive cultural institution that enables artists and audiences to share their heritage through music. The Latin GRAMMYs continue to evolve as a modern cultural institution to stay relevant, while protecting Latin heritage, through the celebration of Latin music around the world.”

It encompasses a vast array of musical traditions and regions, even while embracing rock, pop, urban, hip-hop, rap, reggaeton and alternative music. Categories recognize tropical music spanning the Caribbean from Puerto Rico to Colombia, including salsa, cumbia/vallenato, merengue, bachata and more as well as Mexican regional music such as banda, norteño, ranchero, and mariachi, and artists hail from virtually all of the Americas and Spain.

Inclusion of so many evolving subgenres and styles is a critical part of the Latin Recording Academy’s work, as is educating the broader public about the organization and how the Grammy process works.

“A very important part of our yearly awards process is to listen to the Latin Music community through periodic meetings, screening committees, actively participating in the most important Latin Music conferences to stay on top of the most current music trends,” Abud says.

“Last year in partnership with USC Annenberg we conducted a perception study, which opened our eyes to the need to educate the general public about who we are, our membership process and how Latin Grammys are awarded. As a result, this year we launched an education campaign on our social media platforms and in partnership with key media in select markets.”

The Latin Recording Academy membership is vital in ensuring diverse representation in the awards process by being inclusive of the industry itself and transparent to support a healthy voting process, Abud says.

“We conduct regular data analysis of our membership database confirming the balance between genders, music genres, ages, demographics, professional backgrounds, et cetera,” he explains. “Our annual membership recruitment and retention plans are based on such data analysis. Our main objective is that every segment of the Latin Music Industry is well represented in our membership body.”

That’s where the 4G strategy comes in, taking into consideration those factors in the Latin Recording Academy’s membership, whose diversity is reflected in the voting process and across its Latin Grammy Awards categories.

Among its top nominees are Bad Bunny (Puerto Rico) with 10 nominations; songwriter and producer Edgar Barrera (Mexico) with nine; Rauw Alejandro (Puerto Rico) and Rosalía (Spain) with eight each; Christina Aguilera (United States), Jorge Drexler (Uruguay) and Tainy (Puerto Rico) with six.

The success of Latin Music isn’t confined to the recording studio but is also quantified by record-breaking live box office data – and numbers, like hips, don’t lie.

Among Latin Grammy nominees that mounted major tours in the last year, Bad Bunny topped Pollstar’s list, too. His biggest haul, a two-show sellout of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, moved just shy of 100,000 tickets and grossed $31,474,781.

And Karol G, the latest Colombian woman to conquer the Latin Music world, in addition to her two Latin Grammy nominations including Record of the Year for “Provenza,” rang up a $5.5 million, two-night gross from sellout crowds at Arena in Los Angeles Oct. 21-22. The second night’s performance earned $2.998 million to claim the record as the highest-grossing concert ever by a female Latin artist on a U.S. tour.

“Latin Music is expansive and expressive, full of diversity and flavor, a faithful reflection of the Latin community. It’s a true representation of culture representing a variety of countries and customs from genre to genre. There really is a sound for everyone, every occasion, uniting us. Creativity abounds, and innovation never stops, but there is always a deep respect for tradition and paying homage to legacy,” Abud explains.

“The 23rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards promise to honor the legacy, celebrate the present and embrace the future of Latin music, with deliberate consciousness, paying it forward to the next generations of music creators.”