Trailblazers is an MBW interview series that focuses on music entrepreneurs making waves in their local markets, who have the potential to become the power players of tomorrow’s global company. This time we talk to Luis Sánchez, founder and CEO of the independent Mexican brand, AfinArte. Trailblazers are supported by Believe.
Latin Music’s magnificent commercial status is now strongly established. Last week, new data from RIAA got MBW to predict that Latin-recorded music will surpass $ 1 billion in circulation in the United States alone this year.
However, it is fair to say that this performance is largely driven by superstar artists from certain regions, especially Puerto Rico (Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro, Ozuna) and Colombia (J Balvin, Karol G).
Luis Sanchez, the founder and CEO of the Mexican independent label, AfinArte, is very proud of his home country’s appetite for music. But he also hopes that in the future, more Mexican artists will join the hit parade of Latin music globally.
According to IFPI data, Mexico was Latin America’s second largest recorded music market (behind Brazil) in 2021, with revenue up 27.7% year after year.
Mexico is now generating over $ 280 million annually for the global record industry. It is more than territories like India, Sweden and Norway.
AfinArte makes no small contribution to this commercial performance.
The label – which is over 4 mio subscribers to his YouTube channel – focuses most of his resources on ‘Regional Mexican’ music and has had great success with artists such as That Ghost (currently: 7.2 million Spotify monthly listeners), The two carnal (6.9 million Spotify monthly listeners), and Command voice (2.3 million Spotify monthly listeners).
As Sánchez explains in this MBW Trailblazers interview, AfinArte is very pleased with this level of success for its list of actions.
However, he says his company is also ready to seize the opportunity for a global streaming hit for a Mexican artist when it inevitably comes …
How did AfinArte come about, and what would you rank as some of the company’s largest holdings to date?
My passion for music and the desire to keep the traditional sound of regional Mexican music alive, made me start AfinArte Music.
Some of our greatest accomplishments include establishing AfinArte as a leading independent regional Mexican label, producing high-paying tours in the United States and Mexico, and developing artists who represent our culture and traditions.
Your 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, more international, and there is more diversity within the different subgenres (banda, norteño, sierreño).
Even now, artists from other genres turn to 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 – that’s it [one of] the largest markets in terms of consumption, but it has stopped a bit in terms of creating new talent.
I want Mexico to once again be the mecca for new Latin artists; I want Mexico to generate, export and consume more local talent.
What is the biggest challenge in the music market for a company like yours today and how can this challenge be overcome?
The biggest challenge is the saturation of music and all the options available for distribution.
We need to keep abreast of all music trends and platforms and ensure that our artists continue to connect to their current fan base, while expanding their reach and gaining exposure to a wider audience.
El Fantasma has over 7.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify – more than, for example, Neil Diamond and Paul Simon. Is your label – and your artists – able to make good money streaming the way things look today?
Fortunately, the success of our artists and labels is positively reflected in our annually growing streaming revenue.
There is currently a tendency for large companies to pay massive prices for the song catalogs of classical Anglo / American artists (Bob Dylan, Sting, Neil Diamond, etc.). But some suggest that the bigger future is actually for music, like AfinArtes speaking to streaming’s fastest growing audience in their own languages (across Latin America, Africa, China, etc.). What is your position and how can that future affect the value of your business?
I think people are becoming more nostalgic about their roots and embracing their own culture more, and Latin artists are now global artists.
Thanks to this shift, our market share will also start to grow in other markets.
Sony Music last year ACQUIRED THE CATALOG of a major indie-Mexican music company – Remex Music. How can you compete with big ‘big’ music companies like Sony in your home market and beyond?
I see an opportunity. Large labels have a larger infrastructure and a larger list, but sometimes lack experts in certain music genres.
We are 100% dedicated to regional Mexican music and that is our advantage.
What thing would you change about the modern music business and why?
I would love to see more opportunities for female musicians, especially in the regional Mexican genre.
Tell us something that would surprise people in the industry about your business and its business.
The world is full of possibilities: I started as a driver for my brother-in-law, Jorge Gaxiola [lead singer of the band Voz de Mando] during their tours and campaign days. Today we are partners at AfinArte Music.
What is your ultimate ambition for AfinArte, and how will you achieve it in the future?
I want AfinArte Music to become the leading record company of regional Mexican music, not only in the United States and Mexico, but globally.
We must continue to develop new talents and ensure that our established artists help the new generation of musicians.
Preserving the culture and preserving regional Mexican music is fundamental to AfinArte Music.
Pathways are supported by Believe. Believe offers advice to independent artists and labels, in addition to distributing and promoting their music through a portfolio of brands including TuneCore, Nuclear Blast, Naive, Groove Attack and AllPoints.Music business worldwide