Q’s With Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez On The Ongoing Latin Explosion: ‘It’s Different, It’s Bigger & It’s Here To Stay’

Phil Rodriguez photo

Phil Rodriguez, CEO of Move Concerts, grew up as an “airline brat,” with his family always moving – Miami, New York and in high school he lived in Brazil. Back then, if he wanted to see a concert by an international artist he’d have to fly out of Brazil.

Since launching his career as a concert promoter 45 years ago, Rodriguez has helped bring touring to South America and Move Concerts has become the biggest independent concert promoter in Latin America. Move – which has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru and Puerto Rico, along with its regional headquarters in Miami – recently expanded to include management company Move Management and record label Grand Move Records.

Pollstar caught up with Rodriguez to chat about his new venture managing Argentinian Urban artist Tiago PZK and his thoughts on the incredible rise of Latin music worldwide.

Pollstar: Can you talk about how your business has evolved to include management?
Phil Rodriguez: The management thing, quite frankly, is a COVID project. I tried my hand at management in the past. I managed a punk / New Wave band called The Fans who were actually the goddaddies of that scene in Atlanta. …. During COVID, I was reaching out to friends throughout the world, you know, “How are you holding up?” A dear colleague of mine from Australia, Michael Chugg, Chuggi, I remember calling him up and he goes, “Phil, if it wasn’t for my indie label and my management, we’d be screwed.” So that kind of stuck in the back of my head. … In October of 2020 the office in Argentina reached out to me and said, “Some young producers have an artist here, they want to see if you want to co-manage and help take it to the next level.” I didn’t really want to manage … they kept on insisting and I said, “OK, send me the music.”

They sent me a video and I was blown away. I shared it with different colleagues in the business just to get their feedback, almost waiting for them to talk me out of it. But even the Anglos, they would say, “Look, I don’t understand the lyrics, but I can feel it.” The artist is Tiago PZK. So I said let’s take it step by step. … His social numbers kept on rising. And finally, in August of last year of 2021, we released a single that really blew up on Spotify Global Pop. It’s called “Entre Nosotros” (“Between Us”). We had all the Latin labels knocking on our door, interested. And we reached a deal with Warner Latin. He’s a priority for the company. They’re giving us a great push.

It’s been exciting because it got me out of my comfort zone. … We put together a little team that’s great and we started a label. I didn’t want to sell out the masters, I wanted to keep ownership of those. So we did a small label for Tiago.

What about touring?
We just got back from the first tour in Spain, sold out all six dates. It was anywhere from 700 capacity in Seville to 2,200 in Madrid and in Barcelona. Then we went to London, did a venue called the Camden Assembly, sold it out. … He’s really strong live. And he’s in a very unique position because it’s urban, reggaeton trap but he also does R&B – [he has a] very distinctive voice, amazing live. … We’re selling 7,000 tickets plus in Chile, 7,000 tickets plus in Peru. In Buenos Aires we sold 22,000. We could probably do four arenas now. Slowly but surely we’re getting there. …

We’re going to do three showcases in the U.S. and seven dates in Mexico, plus the Flow Fest, which is the biggest urban festival in Mexico and one of the biggest that OCESA does. We end this leg of the tour Dec. 11 in Mexico City at the Pepsi Center, 7,000 capacity. And then we’re probably going to do a second leg in April and May of next year. …

A colleague of ours is Noah Assad, who manages Bad Bunny. He’s got a great line that I love. He says, “In this business, the street has to give you its blessing.” And Tiago is one of those artists that the street has given him the blessing, and he has the credibility.

And you have a partnership with Noah Assad for promoting shows in Puerto Rico?
That’s something that our managing director in Puerto Rico, Alejandro Pabón put together. We all have a piece of each other’s shows, and so far it’s been a wonderful relationship. Noah’s the best. I mean, just an extremely sharp young man. My hat’s off to him.

That’s huge. Bad Bunny has one of the biggest tours of the year.
You know, I’m an old dog, so I was there for the first, quote unquote, Latin explosion with Shakira, Ricky Martin and so forth. I think this time it’s different, it’s bigger and it’s here to stay. Yesterday, somebody told me a stat that the average age for a Caucasian person in North America is 58 years old. The average age for Hispanics in North America is 11 years old [via a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.] You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the future is.

The culture is just embraced all over from movies to music. We just had Gabriel Iglesias on the cover with the second highest grossing comedy tour of the year.
A dear friend of mine books him at CAA. The numbers are crazy. Listen, I just landed in London … I’m in the cab, going to the hotel. And all of a sudden I start hearing Reggaeton. I look behind me, it’s blasting from the car behind me. I would have never heard that before or expected that in London. … When you look at the Latin artists touring the U.S.A., in the past it would be the same 10 cities. … Now you have Latin artists playing Seattle, Minneapolis, Nashville, Denver. It’s opened up big time. … It’s an exciting time.

Anything you want to add?
No matter how tough it is, I’ve always believed in live. It’s one of the last tribal experiences we have – that and sports. I’ve always said it’s an accessible luxury. [When] things are tough, You may not buy the house, you may not buy the car but you’ll say, screw it, let me go to a show and forget my problems. s