The Power Players, Indie Edition: ‘Independence Is Priceless, It Is the Best Thing That Can Happen to Us’

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The independent Latin music industry is having a great moment, with acts like Fuerza Regida, Bizarrap and Peso Pluma dominating the charts and selling out arenas from Mexico and Argentina to the US and beyond. And the heads of three of the most successful independent labels on the market would not conceive of any other way of working today.

“Independence is priceless, it is the best thing that can happen to us,” says Fede Lauria, CEO of Dale Play Records, which represents Argentine stars such as Bizarrap and Nicki Nicole, highlighting the speed with which they can respond to the needs of its artists by not depending on third parties.

Lauria made this statement on Tuesday (October 3) at Latin Music Week 2023, during “The Power Players: Indie Edition” panel moderated by Billboard‘s Leila Cobo and presented by Lexus. The panel also featured Jimmy Humilde, CEO of Rancho Humilde (label of Mexican regional music superstars like Fuerza Regida and Natanael Cano); and George Prajin, CEO of Prajin Parlay and manager and partner of Peso Pluma. They are, in short, the heads of three of the most successful independent labels on the market today.

For Humilde, who began doing flyer parties in California and over the years rose to become one of the most successful Mexican music executives, it’s about doing “what we want… what we feel,” without having to ask permission. It has worked for him, and “coming from very low, it is a very big blessing because we appreciated it more,” he said.

Prajin, meanwhile, compared the current situation with his beginnings in the industry some 40 years ago, when an indie label could not compete with the big ones because there were no streaming services and slots on the radio were limited, as were the resources to promote indie artists. “Today’s artists have direct engagement with the audience through social media and independent companies can compete at all levels. We lead. We don’t follow,” he said.

Each one, in their own style and way, is committed to taking their artists to the top. Humilde, for example, says that he does not sign artists but rather has business agreements with them — as in the case of Legado 7, with which he established Lumbre, the label where Yahritza y Su Esencia began.

Lauria, who helped launch a wave of urban acts from Argentina including DUKI, Nicki Nicole, Rei, WOS, Rels B and others who began in their teens and soon after were filling stadiums and traveling the world, highlighted the importance of accompanying them in their development and ensure their physical and emotional well-being. “Artists also suffer… they are not aliens. This generation Z of artists has to prepare at superhuman speed to meet that pressure,” he declared.

Celebrated for more than 30 years, the 2023 edition of Latin Music Week includes a Superstar Q&A with Shakira; the Legends on Legends chat with Chencho Corleone and Vico C; Making the Hit Live! with Carin León and Pedro Capó; a panel with RBD’s Christian Chávez, Christopher von Uckermann, and Maite Perroni; Superstar Songwriter discussion with Edgar Barrera and Keityn, among many other panels, Q&As and workshops.

See the ultimate Latin Music Week guide here. This year’s Latin Music Week, taking place Oct. 2-6, also includes showcases by Peso Pluma, Mike Bahía and Greeicy, DannyLux and Fonseca, to name a few. Check out the dates and times for the showcases throughout the week here.

Official partners of the 2023 Billboard Latin Music Week include AT&T, Cheetos, CN Bank, Delta Air Lines, Lexus, Netflix, Michelob ULTRA and Smirnoff.

Latin Music Week coincides with the 2023 Billboard Latin Music Awards ceremony, which will broadcast live from the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla., on Thursday (Oct. 5) and will air on Telemundo. It will also broadcast simultaneously on Universo, Peacock, the Telemundo App, and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on Telemundo Internacional.

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