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Let promoter Ana Araiz help you to make the right choices.

Article: So You Wanna Be A Latin Musician:
The Music Biz 101

by Ana Araiz

Ana Araiz is a partner in AM Productions (Araiz/Montalvo), a company which programs and produces international music events; an example from last July is Expresiones Latinas, a presentation of Lincoln Center Festival '97. Her work as a booker under the aegis of Tempest Entertainment and her promotion, marketing and artist representation through LusAna Productions have given her a reputation as one of the most influential Latin music industry operatives. A successful business person, her love of Hispanic and Brazilian musics and the cultures that produced them have made it possible for her, as it were, to serve both God and Mammon. The Descarga Journal recently asked Araiz for some comments on serving the latter. - David Carp, Editor

RULE #1: The Latin music business is a business.
RULE #2: The Latin music business is nothing without creative and original musicians, composers and arrangers.

As a promoter of Latin music I receive a myriad of promotional material from musicians hungry to launch their careers. Although it is wonderful to be aware of the multitude of talented artists in the Latin music field, it is also very evident that there exists a general naivete regarding the framework an artist should establish in order to properly promote himself or herself.

The following is a very basic explanation of the different professionals (and the roles they play) that are integral to an artist's career. For those truly serious about this subject, I highly recommend the Sidney Shemel and William Krasilovsky's This Business of Music, now in its fifth edition. It is important to remember that the organizational structure of the Latin music business is the same as any other genre of music. However, there is a huge difference in the nuances involving style, nature of relationships and promotional tactics...but that's another article.


The artist's job is to create, create, create. It is essential that the artist have a clear understanding of all the business transactions pertaining to his or her career. She or he must also be part of the decision making team, but cannot be such a control freak that the rest of the team cannot do their job.

The personal manager
The most highly misunderstood position and the most important person in an artist's career. The prime responsibility of the personal manager is to vigilantly look after the well being of the artist. At the same time the manager must remain totally objective in relation to the artist so that a proper marketing plan can be established.

The manager is responsible for artist development. In other words, the manager implements the promotional steps in acquiring an artist's image. As the artist's career progresses, the "artist development plan" gets reevaluated. Managers are also the liaison between the artist and record companies, booking agents and the press. Personal managers receive anywhere between 10 and 25 per cent of an artist's earnings.

Business manager
Is responsible for the direct business transactions usually associated with contracts and finances. Hopefully all of you will make enough money to warrant hiring a business manager. Personal managers and business managers can be one and the same person.

Hire a lawyer! Ask all of your friends and colleagues for recommendations and make wise decisions when choosing your lawyer... but choose one. If your father, brother-in-law or great-aunt is a lawyer, invite them to dinner but don't make them your lawyer. Lawyers negotiate contracts and work out deals. They've spent countless hours in law libraries and know how to read between the lines. But lawyers are not divine entities, so read your contracts and try to learn as much as possible. Lawyers can also be personal and/or business managers.

Booking agent
Responsible for acquiring "gigs" for the artist. Booking agents will book the artist in clubs, festivals, performing arts centers, universities, etc. The most effective tours are coordinated with the release of a CD, generally because that is when a record company will lend its support. The tools of a booking agent are the telephone and a complete promotional package (or press kit - see below) either supplied by a record company or the manager. Without this package, an agent cannot sell the artist for two important reasons: 1. the presenter might not be familiar with the artist. 2. It is not an agent's job to put together a promotional package for the artist, but the agent is responsible for supplying the venue with these packages (once the artist is booked, the promotional package is used to publicize the event). Agents charge between 10 and 15 per cent of the fee paid by the presenter; some charge for expenses.

Press kit basics

1. A well written bio.
Be aware that journalists tend to quote directly from bios. If you are an up and coming artist, try to capture your musical style in words.

2. Photos.
Optional, but preferable when selling the artist. When a gig is booked, photos are a requisite for promotion. Eight by ten inch black and white photos and color slides are the norm.

3. Reviews.
Very important! A presenter does read reviews, so invite the press to your gigs (if you are really confident about your show) and pray for a good review.

4. A CD, or a well recorded and well-packaged tape.

5. A video
This helps if it is well filmed and can hinder if it is the ninth generation copy of your performance at your uncle's wedding.

Ana Araiz can be reached at:
AM Productions
245 W. 25th Street, Suite 8D
New York, NY 10001
212-691-6988; 212-645-1702
fax: 212-691-8348

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