Trailblazers is an MBW interview series that spotlights music entrepreneurs who are making waves in their local markets and have the potential to become the power players of tomorrow’s global business. This time we speak to Luis Sánchez, the founder and CEO of independent Mexican label AfinArte. Trailblazers is powered by Believe.
Latin music’s commercial blockbuster status is now firmly established. Just last week, new data from the RIAA prompted MBW to predict that Latin music will outperform 1 billion dollars in sales in the US alone this year.
However, it’s fair to say that this feat is largely driven by superstar artists from specific regions, most notably Puerto Rico (Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro, Ozuna) and Colombia (J Balvin, Karol G).
Luis Sanchez, the founder and CEO of Mexican independent label AfinArte, is very proud of his native country’s hunger for music. But he also hopes that more Mexican artists will join the worldwide hit parade of Latin American music in the future.
According to IFPI data, Mexico was Latin America’s second largest music market (behind Brazil) in 2021 with rising revenues. 27.7% Year for year.
Mexico now produces over $280 million annually for the global record industry. That’s more than areas like India, Sweden and Norway.
AfinArte makes a no small contribution to this commercial achievement.
The label – that’s over 4 million Subscribers to his YouTube channel – focuses most of his resources on “regional Mexican” music and has worked with artists such as El fantasy (currently: 7.2 million Spotify listeners per month), Los Dos Carnales (6.9 million monthly Spotify listeners) and Voz de Mando (2.3 million monthly Spotify listeners).
As Sánchez explains in this MBW Trailblazers interview, AfinArte is very happy with this level of success for its acts.
However, he says his company is also willing to jump at the opportunity of a global streaming breakout hit for a Mexican artist when it inevitably arrives…
How did AfinArte come about and what would you rank as the greatest achievements of the company to date?
My passion for music and desire to keep alive the traditional sound of regional Mexican music drove me to found AfinArte Music.
Some of our greatest achievements include establishing AfinArte as the leading independent regional Mexican label, producing high-grossing tours in the US and Mexico, and developing artists who represent our culture and traditions.
Her label specializes in “regional Mexican” music. What kind of growth have you seen in the genre in the last 5-10 years?
The genre has become more commercial, international and there is more diversity within the different subgenres (banda, norteño, sierreño).
Also, artists from other genres are now approaching us for collaborations. For example: Los Dos Carnales and [Sony-signed] Pop act, Camilo [who collaborated on Tuyo y Mio, which has over 48 million streams on Spotify, and over 50 million on YouTube].
What are your hopes for Mexico’s own recorded music industry in the coming decade?
Mexico has always been a key market for Latin music – it is [one of] the biggest consumers, but it’s paused a little when it comes to generating new talent.
I want Mexico to become the Mecca of new Latin American artists again; I want Mexico to produce, export and consume more local talent.
What is the biggest challenge in the music market today for a company like yours and how can this challenge be overcome?
The biggest challenge is saturation with music and all the opportunities available for distribution.
We need to keep abreast of all music trends and platforms and ensure our artists continue to be exposed to their current fanbases while expanding their reach.
El Fantasma has over 7.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify – more than, for example, Neil Diamond and Paul Simon. Can your label – and your artists – make good money from streaming as things stand today?
Luckily, the success of our artists and labels is reflected positively in our streaming revenue, which grows every year.
There is a trend right now that big companies are paying massive prices for the song catalogs of classic Anglo-American artists (Bob Dylan, Sting, Neil Diamond, etc.). However, some suspect that the greater future is indeed for music like AfinArte’s, appealing to the fastest growing audiences in their own language (across Latin America, Africa, China, etc.). How do you see this and how could this future affect the value of your company?
I think people are becoming more nostalgic about their roots and embracing their own culture, and Latin American artists are now global artists.
Thanks to this shift, our market share will also grow in other markets.
Sony Music last year acquired the catalog of a major Mexican indie music company – Remex Music. How do you compete with big “big” music companies like Sony in your home market and beyond?
I see an opportunity Big labels have bigger infrastructure and rosters, but sometimes they lack experts in specific genres of music.
We are 100% dedicated to local Mexican music and that is our advantage.
What one thing would you change about the modern music business and why?
I would like to see more opportunities for female musicians, especially in the regional Mexican genre.
Tell us something that would surprise the industry about your company and its business.
The world is full of opportunities: I started out as a driver for my brother-in-law, Jorge Gaxiola [lead singer of the band Voz de Mando] during their tours and promo days. Today we are partners at AfinArte Music.
What is your ultimate goal for AfinArte and how will you achieve it in the future?
I want AfinArte Music to become the leading label for regional Mexican music, not just in the US and Mexico, but worldwide.
We must continue to develop new talent and ensure our established artists are helping the new generation of musicians.
For AfinArte Music, preserving culture and preserving regional Mexican music is fundamental.
Trailblazers are powered by Believe. Believe advises independent artists and labels, and distributes and promotes their music through a portfolio of brands including TuneCore, Nuclear Blast, Naïve, Groove Attack and AllPoints.music business worldwide
https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/luis-sanchez-ceo-afinarte-latin-artists-are-now-global-artists/ Luis Sánchez, CEO of AfinArte: “Latin artists are now global artists.”