Latin Alternative Music Conference 2014 – Alex’s Recap

Alex Espinosa is a Music Supervisor at PlayNetwork with over 16 years of experience working directly with brands around the world.  Though he’s worked in radio in the past, his passion lies in creating music experiences for his clients.  Alex has created the soundtracks for brands ranging from Taco Cabana and On The Border to Godiva and Nautica.

Quinceañera’s are usually reserved for Latina girls celebrating ones 15th birthday.   With the Latin Alternative Music Conference (or LAMC for short) now celebrating their 15th anniversary, this was a celebration of music and how far this conference, held in NYC, has come.  I’ve been attending LAMC for 10 years and was asked to speak on a panel aptly titled, “What Actually Moves the Needle?”.  What’s great about LAMC are the hungry musicians and fans from all over Latin America who attend and  listening to the pulse of what’s happening in world of Latin Alternative music.  One of the reasons why this conference means so much to me is not because of my love for Latin music and discovering new bands, but because it makes me hopeful for where this genre is going.

Day 1:

First up was French/Chilean Hip Hop artist Ana Tijoux playing at the Central Park Summer Stage. Fans even stuck around when a torrential downpour of rain started right during her set.  After the rain subsided, I made my way to the Mercury Lounge to catch the LAMC Indie Showcase.  This was by far my favorite event at LAMC, as many artists are either performing for the first time in the States or showcasing a new release. I keep overhearing people talk about Cuban artist Danay Suarez.  One thing about Danay that struck me was her confidence on stage, but what really blew me away was her angelic voice.  She had such poise and charisma; I was surprised I’ve never heard of her before, so I was grateful for the discovery.  The crowd was as mesmerized as I was.

Day 2:

The conference’s first panel, “Every Centavo Counts” (Every Cent Counts), included panelists from Spotify, SoundExchange, Pandora, Google Play, Sony/Red, Beggers Group and A2IM.  This panel discussed how artists get paid and the different ways music services pay artists for their music.

Next up was a showcase in Brooklyn with Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas, ChocQuibTown and RVSB. I had to catch ChocQuibTown, as I’ve heard their live shows were not to be missed and of course, they didn’t disappoint!

Day 3:

The first panel of the day was the one I was invited to speak on, “What Actually Moves The Needle?”. After our introductions, which included folks from Google, YouTube, MiTu Network, NPR, KCSN, Co-Sign and Rogers & Cowan, we talk about ways artists can get their music discovered by the masses and how to navigate through all the different channels toward success. What I really wanted to convey during this panel was letting artists know how important is it to keep true to themselves , even if the industry may try to tell them what type of music to make.  Personally, the most enjoyment I get out of these types of panels is seeing the belief in what these artists love to do, as well as the passion in the experiences they create through lyrics and music for everyone to enjoy.

After catching the next panel “The Artist As A Brand,” I made my way to an acoustic showcase at SOB’s near Midtown.  A couple of artists got my immediate attention:  the gorgeous Cuban singer Diana Fuentes, who reminded me of R&B songstress Yuna, had me entranced with her presence and voice.  I also got to experience the musicianship of Argentina’s El Mato A Un Policia Motorizado.  Even though I had already seen them live the other night, unplugged was a whole different experience.

The night ended with a showcase at the Gramercy Theatre, with performances by Diana Fuentes, Esteman, The Wookies, AJ Davila and Tijuana-based Los Macuanos. After a full three days of live shows, panels, subway navigation and get-togethers with old and new friends alike, it was time to call it a night and get ready for my flight back to Seattle the next day.

This year’s experience at LAMC was one of my favorites of the LAMC that I’ve been to so far.  Not just because of the live shows or panels, but because of seeing how far Latin music has come.  It’s not just a genre any longer, but a lifestyle with so much talent coming from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and many more.  Viva La Musica!!!