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SONY LATIN'S ALEX GALLARDO LOOKS BACK ON A TRANSFORMATIVE 2023

Growth in Latin music has been measured in many forms, especially in the last two years. Zeroing in on current U.S. marketshare, you’ll notice Sony Latin’s rise to a new peak of 1.9—a 70% increase in its position since the end of 2021. As Sony Music U.S. Latin President Alex Gallardo pointed out to us in a year-end catch-up, the label and team haven’t changed the way they operate—A&R remains at the core of Sony Latin’s DNA that has been instilled by Chairman/CEO Afo Verde.

What did change in 2023 is the rapid growth of Música Mexicana: the global reach of its hits, artists welcoming collaboration and new competitors in the Latin genre. Gallardo was gracious enough to discuss some of the label’s highlights this year, guaranteeing himself a spot on Santa’s “nice” list.

Whether it’s from Rauw Alejandro, Ozuna, Luisa Sonza or Emilia, how do you stay consistent with songs catching fire globally?

It’s the consequence of a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I was an artist previously. We are obsessed with the A&R process. That’s the first step. Then the rest of the team steps in. Regional teams work together to enhance songs that are breaking.

It all starts with our CEO, Afo. He began his career as a producer and A&R. I was an artist and A&R. If the A&R process is not accurate, then the rest is useless. Once you find the right song, the rest becomes easier. If the music isn’t right, it doesn’t matter how many campaigns you run.

You started this year with “Bebe Dame” by Fuerza Regida taking off. The group is ending 2023 with a top global song featuring Marshmello, “Harley Quinn.” Did you envision that when signing them in 2022?

We didn’t end up closing Fuerza until late 2022, and then the group decided to release two albums in December, which isn’t standard practice. But the beauty of this industry is that you continue to be surprised every day. The kickoff with Fuerza was amazing, and they’ve been dominating the charts since. They’re probably the biggest Mexican group at the moment. We were lucky to partner with them at the right place and the right time.


(L-R: Sony Music, U.S. Latin VP of A&R Txema Rosique, Sony Music U.S. Latin GM Esteban Geller, VP, West Coast U.S., Latin María Inés Sánchez, Gallardo and Junior Manager, A&R & Marketing Guadalupe Cruz; Gallardo signing Eden Muñoz with Sony Mexico President Roberto López)

And how are you continuing to invest in música Mexicana?

It is a huge priority for us. Working with Música Mexicana artists is not new for our company, but obviously the new sierreño and corridos movements have exploded. We strengthened our West Coast team, added more executives and brought in María Inés Sánchez to head operations in L.A. She brings a wealth of experience from both the corporate side and indies like Del Records.

We are not only focusing on the U.S. One of our biggest strengths is collaborating with our sister label, Sony Mexico. We have weekly A&R and marketing calls and strive to make sure all of our artists feel at home on either side.

The expansion of Mexican music globally is extremely important to us. Many Mexican artists find success independently, but we feel that the Latin muscle at Sony can open doors in other markets that aren’t traditional Música Mexicana markets. I’m a big believer that in 2024 we will continue to see more Mexican music in Latin regions.

Can you explain how Sony Latin partnered with Marshmello for Sugar Papi?

The relationship started about two years ago with a Tokischa collab—that’s when we first got to know Marshmello and Moe [Shalizi]. They quickly became amazing partners. We came up with the idea of doing a complete Latin project and they loved it. When we made the deal it was the first time Marshmello signed a one-album deal with a label, so with such an iconic global brand we were extremely excited to partner with him.

We had a two-week camp at our 5020 Studio in Miami and all the big guns showed up—Fuerza, Anuel, Farruko, Young Miko. One year later, we are proud that three of Marshmello’s Top 10 songs are from the project, including a #1 Mexican song “Harley Quinn.” Luisa Sonza had a song in the Top 5 in Brazil, and Manuel Turizo’s “El Merengue” made the global Top 50 and was Top 3 in Spain. Marshmello even earned his first Latin Grammy nomination.

What were your other highlights from this year?

I loved the RR project from Rauw and ROSALĺA.

Yes, that was definitely a major moment in 2023.

I think it was one of the top projects of the year. It reflected two amazing artists coming together.

Also, we were named the Top Latin Label of 2023 by Billboard. We’re very proud of that, especially when Latin music is exploding the way it is. Every year gets more and more challenging. Now, our competitors aren’t just Warner and Universal Latin—it's every major.

Sony is also the leader in Latin marketshare—that’s a consequence of a lot of investment, a huge roster putting out a lot of music and a team that genuinely loves being here and doing what they do, day in and day out.

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