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A Look Back at the Latin Alternative Music Conference
8/15/05 - LatinRapper.com - words by Amen (www.thatsangel.com)
 

LAMC

The 2005 Latin Alternative Music Conference invaded the Puck Building on Lafayette St. in the SoHo section of Manhattan and took over most of Lower Manhattan in early August.

 

In addition to the Puck Building, performances and open mic sessions to celebrate and promote Latino music were also held in the Virgin Mega music store at Union Square.


With a focus on marketing and promotion for Latino artists trying to make it in today’s music industry, experts in their respective fields sat on the panel and discussed what works and doesn’t on the path to success.

Offering inside information on the music industry, the conference made clear that today’s standards of success unfortunately do not begin and end with the artists’ musical talent or ability to create a “brilliant” album. Marketing and promotion of an album were discussed as the most important aspects of generating popularity. For an artist to get their name out there and make the masses care about it, the music has to be promoted in such a way to let the people know that they “have to have it.” Everything short of fabricated publicity stunts was discussed, offering insight to struggling and starving artists that desire fame.

Record labels now have people appointed to online music promotion, such as Pablo Lopez of Nacional Records, whose job is to utilize sites such as myspace.com and thefacebook.com to try and expand the fan bases of particular artists on the label. Labels have realized that online promotion helps create a closer connection with the fans as opposed to television and radio marketing, because the fans can actually interact with the artists. It’s understood that if the fan feels closer to the artist that they can have a loyal fan base, as opposed to a fan that simply might like the product but not really connect with the artist. Other promotional tactics discussed included attaining sponsorships, forming alliances with companies that offer products relevant to the artists’ demographic, maintaining unity and eliminating competition amongst other artists in similar struggling situations, and establishing close relationships with DJs. When it comes to being a struggling artist, the panel experts felt that it was essential to get your music heard no matter how it would be possible. In the music industry, the most valued tool for breaking new artists has always been the DJ.

During the conference, it was suggested that artists make acapella versions of their music available to DJs who may want to remix their vocals, and include it in party mixes and on the DJs’ projects. However, many artists feel that it’s a double edged sword and may do more harm than good. Tonedeff, independent Latino Hip-Hop artist and Founder of the Qn5 Music label, described how offering acapellas can be counter-productive to the struggling artists’ mission.

“While [making acapellas available] is a beneficial practice for someone like Jay-Z, who the common listener is instantly familiar with… [A remix] can lead to more confusion and a misrepresentation of the artists’ original vision for the music. For an unfamiliar listener, a poor remix done by an anonymous source might be the only thing they ever hear from that artist, and that can do more harm than good. You have absolutely no control over how the work is presented,” explained Tonedeff, “You could be 3 bars off rhythm on your verse, and you'd have no say - yet this is what the public hears.”

A music conference geared towards Latinos wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the explosion of reggaeton in mainstream media. Artists like Daddy Yankee and Don Omar have videos getting airplay on MTV, companies are licensing songs and images of artists to represent them in advertisements to connect with the youth, and the general buzz surrounding the music is growing more deafening by the day. Latino artists haven’t received this much attention in mainstream music since the freestyle music of the 80’s, and the Latin explosion of the late 90’s/early 2000’s that crossed Latino artists into pop stardom such as Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, and Jennifer Lopez.

Unfortunately, the music’s popularity dwindled with time, and became a punch-line as does most aspects of popular culture that wear their welcome. Being better prepared, Latinos in the music industry are trying to promote more unity amongst artists and insist that more support be shown to reggaeton so that we can “ride the wave” of its popularity. With Sean “P. Diddy” Combs Bad Boy Latino imprint being founded, and Wu-Tang beginning Wu-Latino, headed by Ray Acosta and the RZA, it seems as if the mainstream is finally prepared to embrace Latino music and promote it properly to the masses. On top of marketing and promotion, a focal theme of the conference was to inspire Latinos to not feel like foreigners in the music industry. Reminding us that the music has cultural relevance and needs to be accepted as a genre rather than being stamped and labeled at every turn is the only way that Latino music and artists can be taken more seriously in the mainstream. Offering awareness to the science of the music industry was beneficial for all artists hoping for success. Unfortunately, musical talent is only a small part of success, when marketability and understanding of the business get you a lot further than an incredible singing voice or knowledge of quality music.
 

 


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