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Lessons Learned From LAMC: Streaming, Syncs and Immigration

The Latin Alternative Music Conference gave some helpful advice to foreign Latin artist in terms of getting access to U.S. soil, and making their music heard. 

The Latin Alternative Music Conference hosted a series of panel discussions tailored for the different conundrums that arise when U.S., Latin and Latin American artists try to swim in the mainstream of the music business in the United States. On Thursday (July 13) and Friday (July 14) inside a shabby-chic event room in New York City’s Stewart Hotel, executives from some of the most prominent music streaming services, festival coordinators, artists, A&Rs, and legal experts came together to share advice.

In the panel titled "Latin Music In the Digital Age: Where Do We Go From Here?" the focus was on smarter use of services. The key to having a successful marketing plan, experts explained, comes down to research. “Use the Internet to get data on what’s happening in particular cities, and in a region of a particular country that can become part of the story that you’re telling about yourself,” explains Jason Pascal, VP of catalog development & associate general counsel for The Orchard, a film and music distribution firm. “See what’s starting to catch fire in a particular region, and maybe it makes sense to do some advertising there. It makes sense to play live there, and make that part of your story of the times based on the direction your career is going.”

Return on investment is key. Rocio Guerrero, head of Latin culture for shows & editorial at Spotify, advises artists not to lend so much energy in creating a physical copy. It may turn out to be cost ineffective considering only two singles out of one whole body of work might get attention. Instead she offers to try and use a digital platform for fans to have access to the music.

Still, with offering artists a home to place their music in, comes the great responsibility of making sure the artist gets recognition from the public. "Streaming inherits the responsibility that we have to foster discovery and to make sure we’re being inclusive to a broader landscape of people,” said Marcos Juarez, Latin music curator and programmer at Pandora. “A Pandora experience can begin with your favorite artist, and can lead you to an artist you’ve never heard before.”

Both Spotify and Pandora have discovery tools and algorithms, which are designed to help their consumers be privy to up-and-coming new artists. Amid the various ways of branding an artist, there’s no denying music streaming services have helped the Latin community. Daddy Yankee recently became the No. 1 artist on Spotify, which Guerrero acknowledges streaming has opened new doors. “Whether you like reggaeton or not it’s helping all of us in this room to get the visibility that we needed,” she noted. “I know for a fact it’s opening up a lot of doors to independent artists, mangers and labels. We are getting knocks on our doors from the general market much more than we did before.”

Latin artists are also starting to gain momentum in placing their music on film and TV. The "Content is King: Latin Music Synchs In The Streaming TV & Film Era" panel explored the topic of using music within other mediums of entertainment consumption.

“Because of the streaming platforms with a lot of original content that have been created via Hulu and Netflix, there have been a lot more programs that have been looking for Latin music than in the past,” explained Yvonne Drazan, VP and A&R of Latin Division at Peer Music. “Pretty much every time anyone would ever ask me for Latin music for either film or television it was for like a taco truck scene, or something like that.”

With the rise of shows like Narcos and El Chapo, the use of Latin music for programming purposes is in high demand. But that also brings stereotypical syncs that reinforces longstanding clichés, which some are looking to combat. “I’m working on a documentary called The Classic, and it follows East L.A. Latino football players, and it features all kids of immigrants,” said Josh Norek, who handled music supervision for El Chapo. “There’s a lot of Latin hip-hop in this movie, but it’s all positive. I think it’s going to depend on who’s making the movie, and what the characters are doing.”

Beyond song performance and placement, Latin artists from abroad face a different set of challenges under our current troubling political climate. The panel entitled "Another Brick In the Wall: Touring the USA In 2017" deconstructed what the process is for Latin artists when trying to come and play in America.

Immigration attorney Eva Golinger, who specializes in entertainment immigration and international law, advises those looking to enter to have the proper documentation. “For foreign artist coming to the U.S., you need to make sure that you have legal paperwork, a proper musician or artist visa,” she noted. “Make sure you discuss if you have any prior encounters with the law, because all of these things are now being scrutinized in a very serious way.”

Golinger also added that immigration officials have access to phone records and social media accounts, which means one needs to be careful with what’s shared online. Additionally, she mentioned that artists should submit a print version of their press kits filled-out with all their press articles translated into English. Also, they need all the contracts for concerts they’ve played in their country of origin. Immigration departments nationwide are looking for a reason to not let international artists come to America, she said, all the more reason why everything needs to be on point.

Alicia Zertuche, music coordinator for SXSW, suggests that an artist’s interactions with immigration officials at border crossings, and airports should be amicable. “When you come in through an airport or a land crossing it’s really important to have a certain or particular attitude towards the official because all can go south in seconds,” she warned. A bad encounter can lead to a secondary holding, which means officials can take you in for more questioning. This of course, can subsequently lead to jeopardizing the artist or band’s chance at playing in the country.

Golinger also warned artist to take calculated risks once they are here, because if they engage in a political protest and get arrested this can lead to deportation. In music, it’s always important to have a strong message, but sometimes the personal can get political.

This article was originally published on Billboard 

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J Balvin performs at Baja Beach Festival 2019 in Mexico's Rosarito Beach.
Baja Beach Fest/Jose Prado

Review: Baja Beach Festival Brings Reggaeton And Latin Trap Oasis To Rosarito

One of Mexico’s Hollywood-friendly beach towns got some action this weekend with the third annual Baja Beach Festival. From Friday, Aug. 16 to Saturday, Aug. 17, the serene beach just under an hour from San Diego transformed into a paradise for urbano music stans. With the weather clocking in at mid-60 to mid-70 degrees, the end of summer breeze blew just hard enough for attendees to throw their inhibitions to the wind. An idyll of booty cheeks, bikinis, and Tecate beer guzzlers, the outdoor venue that boasted one main stage was not only ideal for those who wanted to take a dip in the ocean then plop on the sand to indulge in live entertainment but also for those who caught the performances from the balconies of the adjacent hotels.

The line-up mirrored a well-curated playlist of today’s popular Latin trap and reggaeton acts. Singer Cazzu brought her Club Emo Tour to Mexico, evoking bad girl vibes. She could slow down the tempo for a sensual love note à la “Toda” -- she appeared on the remix for the song from fellow Baja Beach performer Alex Rose -- or body roll to a sexy number like “Puedo Ser.” R&B-leaning artists like the Brytiago (Night 1) and aforementioned Rose (Night 2) present as rappers on-stage with fitted hats and tees, designer gear and iced out jewelry but croon for a woman’s adoration. Ear-pleasing entries like Brytiago’s “Bipolar” and “La Mentira” as well as Rose’s “Darte” (which borrows the melody from Akon’s explicit “I Wanna Love You”) and contribution to Lunay and Baja Beach Fest act Lyanno’s “A Solas.” Reggaeton duo Jowell y Randy brought classic reggaeton feels with “Un Poco Loca,” which samples Chaka Demus & Pliers's "Murder She Wrote” while also reviving eternal party-starters like Casa De Leones’ 2007 debut single “No Te Veo.”

Despite missing Cardi B -- who canceled a string of shows recently -- the star power for both nights was not dimmed. J Balvin performed an hour’s worth of material that anyone who owns a streaming service account would know. The Balvin fiesta came with dancing figures like life-sized clouds, mushrooms, and colorful creatures including a Cookie Monster-esque octopus. There was no territory he didn’t cover on the music front either. He sprinkled in gems from the Bad Bunny joint project Oasis and collaborative tracks like “Con Altura” (which features Anita) and “Loco Contigo” (which includes DJ Snake and Tyga). After their earlier set, Jowell y Randy appeared for “Bonita” during J Balvin’s set. He then hyped up the late-night crowd with infectious mainstream hits like “Machika,” a Cardi B-less “I Like It” fused with Pete Rodriguez’s original “I Like It Like That” and the explosive finale “Mi Gente.”

The main event came with Ozuna. The 30,000 in attendance clung to every canción, from “Vaina Loca” to the Romeo Santos-assisted songs “Ibiza” and “El Farsante.” His solo rendition of “La Modelo” and the megahit “Dile Que Tu Me Quieres” had the hot girls -- and boys -- singing every word. “Baila Baila Baila” was an immediate call-to-action for twerking on the beach while the closing number “Taki Taki” preceded a nearly three-minute fireworks show, a fitting nod to Friday’s explosive performances.

Following a night of afterparties that rang off in las calles till 4 a.m., Saturday was still loaded with vibras. To set Day 2 off, daytime acts like Amenazzy and Lyanno provided a melodic yet nostalgic buffet of their catalog’s finest. Amenazzy performed a track that borrowed the beat to Rich Gang, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan’s “Lifestyle” while Puerto Rico’s own Lyanno brought “Se Cansó,” the Urba y Roma and Zion y Lennox-assisted “Te Veo” and “Dejarte Llevar,” which samples Mario’s “Let Me Love You.”

After an intermission of line dancing to Caballe Dorado’s “No Rompas Más (Mi Pobre Corazón)” (Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” morphed into a Spanish language hit), De La Ghetto stormed the stage with his latest release “Selfie,” the Nicky Jam collabo “Si Tú No Estás” and his verse on the “Escápate Conmigo” remix, an ideal soundtrack for lovers and lovers-for-the-night alike. He transitioned into a semi-bar fest by performing his solo take on Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” with “Estamos Aqui,” a track with Arcangel (the reggaeton artist De La Ghetto formed a duo with in the early aughts) and in a sense, an appropriate slogan for the sold-out crowd in attendance.

Now, full stop for Becky G. The fiery Chicana who hails from both Mexico and Inglewood, Calif. represented her two cultures with pride, telling the crowd in Spanglish, “I lived my life in between two worlds, representing two flags, y siempre me dijeron, ‘You’re either too Mexican for the Americans or too American for the Mexicans. You can’t be in the middle.’” But Becky G showed and proved she can keep the same energy for her peoples, bringing some hip-hop flavor to her crossover joints like “Mad Love” (which features David Guetta and Sean Paul) and the playful Anitta collabo “Banana” while dishing out Spanish-language songs like “Mala Mía” (Maluma and Anitta are on the original), “Que Me Baile,” the Myke Towers duet “Dollar” and the celestial love note “Cuando Te Besé.” Based on the hometown love she received from an audience that included her parents and siblings, claro que si, Becky G nailed it.

The roar of the crowd reached a fever pitch when one of the seasoned reggaetoneros, Nicky Jam, arrived. With the breadth of his catalog packed with, you guessed it, jams, the puertoriqueno effortlessly segued from his recent offerings (“El Amante,” “Si Tú La Ves” and the Silvestre Dangond’s wedding day-ready “Cásate Conmigo”) to the hits that cemented his reggaeton reign (2003’s “Me Voy Pal Party” and 2005’s “La Gata” which follows the same cadence as P!nk’s 2000 debut single “There You Go”). Nicky Jam then unleashed “X,” a continuation of J Balvin’s Night 1 performance of the Will Smith-co-signed single.

To note, it wasn’t uncommon to hear the same song performed by multiple acts. Rosarito was treated to three different verses of Nio García, Darrell and Casper Mágico’s 2017 smash “Te Boté” from Ozuna, Nicky Jam and Bad Bunny, who each appeared on the remix released in 2018. Same happened for J Balvin, who performed his parts in “La Canción” and “I Like It” on Night 1, followed by Bad Bunny, who delivered his share of the same tracks on the consecutive night.

To set the mood for Bad Bunny, Mexico’s own DJ Fredy Fresco dabbled in some hip-hop by spinning City Girls “Act Up” and a festival favorite, YG’s “Go Loko.” For context, the warm-up felt intentional as Bad Bunny’s melodic swagger and rap sensibilities have boosted his crossover appeal. Cue the summer smash “Mía," which features a Spanish-speaking Drake (Sadly, the 6 God was M.I.A. for the live rendition in Baja California), and definite crowd-pleaser. Still, the eccentric 25-year-old -- laced in a red tracksuit and his signature shades -- delivered other cuts across the spectrum from the high-octane banger “200 MPH” to the subdued “Solamente Soy Feliz." The YouTube phenom’s reach was palpable: for every track he performed, it sounded like his fans printed out the lyrics for a sing-along. He then brought el fuego (literally firing up the flame machines) for “La Romana” before bowing out with “Callaita,” a perfect send-off for Baja Beach Fest with this lyric alone: Si hay sol, hay playa.

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Christina Milian Provides All The Feels In Trailer For Netflix Romcom 'Falling Inn Love'

Netflix is keeping up their strong rollout of Romcoms with Falling Inn Love an artisanal love story of sorts starring Christina Milian.

Milian stars as San Francisco city girl (Gabriella Diaz) who finds her self at the bottom of her wine glass after her design firm folds. On a whim she finds herself entering a New Zealand countryside "Win an Inn" contest. It is just her luck when she is thousands of feet in the air and arriving in thigh-high boots and designer duds as the winner to The Bellbird Valley Farm neighborhood Inn.

She becomes seemingly disappointed that the advertised Inn has a deteriorating exterior, overgrown weeds, useless appliances, and a meddling goat that prances throughout the place. Trying to adjust to her new life, the Cali-girl is quickly introduced to a Kiwi heartthrob, contractor, and volunteer firefighter Jake Taylor (Adam Demos).

Eager to sell the property Diaz immediately teams with Taylor to renovate the space but once it is fixed and flipped,  she finds herself hesitant to leave the Inn she has taken pride in, her newfound beau, and the inviting community that stood by her side.

The Roger Kumble directed film is set to premiere on Netflix (Aug. 29) also staring the likes of Anna Jullienne, Claire Chitham, Blair Strang, Jonathan Martin, William Walker, Daniel Watterson, and Simone Walker.

The film continues their push in romcoms. Some notable Netflix gems in love include Someone Great (Gina Rogriguez, LaKeith Stanfield), To All The Boys I've Loved Before (Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish) and the hilarious Always Be My Maybe with Ali Wong, Randall Park and Keanu Reeves.

Watch the full trailer below.

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Selena Mural To Be Placed In Late Singer's Texas Neighborhood

A new mural of Selena was unveiled in the late singer’s neighborhood of Molina in Corpus Christi, Texas, The Corpus Christi Caller Times reports. The artwork was made by New York-based artist San Singueza and covers an original mural painted by students of nearby West Oso High School in 1995.

The revamped mural features three different images of the late singer, each painted in watercolors with the phrase, “The goal isn’t to live forever … the goal is to create something that will,” alongside Selena’s signature. This project was reportedly financed by the singer's family.

 

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A new Selena #mural was unveiled in #corpuschristi Read about it and watch it go up by clicking the link in our bio. 📷 @rachel.clow / @callertimes : #selenaquintanilla #selena #selenas

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The old painting, which featured a picture of the singer with the phrase, “Always In Our Hearts,” began to show signs of discoloration. Residents of the area pointed out that the 23-year-old portrait needed a makeover.

“Having to see it wear down after all the years,” said Eric Lee Tunchez, a resident who lives around the corner where Selena grew up. “It saddened me and made me want to do something about it.”

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