Loud And Live CEO Nelson Albareda can boast nine artists on his company’s roster with Latin Grammy nominations. It’s an impressive list that would be the envy of any promoter.
But Albareda isn’t resting on his laurels or simmering in self-satisfaction. Nelson Albareda is readying his company and Latin music for the next logical step: going global.
With Latin music self-evidently massive in the Americas and already with a foothold in Spain, Loud And Live is positioning to expand the genre’s presence.
“Our aspiration is to be the global Latin live music producer. We expanded into Latin America. We are expanding this year into Europe. I have a crazy idea to test the Asian market,” he says.
But to make that jump a sustainable and long-term one, the Latin segment of the music industry needs a bench and Loud And Live is helping to build it.
On Nov. 3, the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation announced it received the largest donation its history: $1 million over the next five years from Loud And Live.
The donation will help advance the Foundation’s mission to further international awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of Latin music and its makers to the world’s culture through college scholarships, grants and educational programs.
“It offers scholarships to Latin students at Berklee, at Julliard. We felt strongly that in order to continue to promote and grow the industry, we have to commit to students, whether it’s performers or in the industry,” he says. “The mission is to provide education, scholarships, full rides, everything, room and board. We believe in giving back. This is giving back and investing in the future of Latin music.”
And the future of Latin music looks brighter than ever. Though promises of a Latin music explosion have been made like clockwork every decade or so starting with Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” this time feels different.
“I was in Dubai and I got on an Emirates flight and the music was Marc Anthony, Bad Bunny and Gilberto Santa Rosa. If you go anywhere, you are listening to Latin music everywhere,” he says. “Latin music is here to stay and we are just at the beginning of the runway.”
Promoting exclusively Latin artists, Loud And Live is among the 15 largest promoters internationally. With Bad Bunny selling out stadiums and artists like Karol G, Daddy Yankee, Grupo Firme and Rosalía regularly positioning highly on Pollstar’s charts, Latin acts are garnering much deserved attention from the industry’s major players.
“Everybody who is not in the Latin business needs to change their mindsets and people in the industry on the Latin side need to change their minds and know that this is a big business,” he says. “Our main competitor is Live Nation and I do expect others, promoters who are non-Latin, every promoter wants to get into Latin. We have a first-mover advantage,” he says, noting that Loud And Live has never lost an artist because the company understands “the culture and the genre.”
“Our challenge is to scale that into Latin America and Europe and start in on emerging markets in Asia,” he says.
Albareda compares the European market to where the U.S. market was in the ‘80s. Europe has seen increased immigration from Latin America and has always been a market more open to global sounds.
“The first 10 to 15 years of an immigrant, they are searching for what they miss from home. They go see Marc Anthony, Gilberto Santa Rosa or Camilo; it is a connection with the old country,” he says. “Europe is going to be a huge market for Latin music. It’s where the U.S. was 20 years ago.”
As for Asia, he says he remembers doing business there in his first job with salsa imprint RMM Records.
“If there was a market in Asia in the 90s, there has to be one now,” he says.
Back on the home continent, things are stacking up for sustained growth, as well.
“The purchasing power of the Latin market in the U.S. has increased. Every genre of music needs a base and the base has gotten there. Now, through the digital transformation, Latin music is available in every corner of the world. You can press a button and listen to Latin music,” he says.
Digital infrastructure is expanding in Latin America, too, which benefits artists who now have a lower barrier to entry in finding an audience and makes it easier for the core markets for the Latin sector to discover new acts.
He notes the young audiences at Camilo shows as portents of a lengthy career for the Colombian — “It’s a lot of eight, nine, 10-year-old kids and it reminds me of Shakira and Ricky Martin in the ‘90s. He’s going to have fans for the next 30 years.” — but it’s also illustrative of the growth potential for Latin music at-large.
Building a market sector that’s self-sustaining isn’t easy. The performers are there and now emerging from places like Spain and Argentina that, historically, have not been big contributors on the artistic side. Efforts like Loud And Live’s partnership with the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation will create future leaders on the business side. But there’s other challenges Albareda addresses. He’ll be conducting a panel at Miami-Dade Community College with the legendary Emilio Estefan on financial literacy.
“We want to explain to students in the different areas of music and business how to build credit and manage money. There’s a lack of financial literacy and it’s very hard for anyone to understand credit, finance and access to capital,” he says.
The Latin music explosion is finally here. Now the goal is to maintain it.