On Wednesday (June 5), Sony ATV won Publisher of the year at the SESAC Latin Music Awards in Los Angeles. This makes it a triple crown for the publishing company, which also won publisher of the year at the ASCAP and BMI Latin music awards.
One day before his SESAC win, Jorge Mejía, president of Sony/ATV Latin America and U.S. Latin, sat down for a Q&A with Billboard during Midem in Cannes. Here are five take-aways from that conversation.
1. It’s a business of educated bets: Mejía looks at many factors in signing a writer, from a “great song” to a song on the charts to a collaboration in motion.
“The other thing is you look for is that certain quality of desire, ambition but at the same time not craziness, coupled with a delicate and subtle mastery of songwriting that comes through in the songs they show," he said. "That, even more of the songs on the chart. And then, you make bets. And no one knows. If the song is on the chart the bet may be bigger, and if not, the bet may be smaller, but they’re still bets.” Or, as Mejía also puts it, “It’s like magic in a bottle…"
2. There is a “Despacito” effect: Yes, there is a before and after, says Mejía. “Before, roughly every two years we had a big Latin single. After, it’s been an avalanche of Latin songs around the world. So now there is a definite difference in how Latin music is seen and consumed around the world. It’s truly Latin music’s time."
3. Managing song splits is possible: “All disputes get worked out,” says Mejía. Case in point: “Despacito,” which was co-written by three Sony/ATV writers: Luis Fonsi, Erika Ender and Daddy Yankee. When Justin Bieber jumped on the song, so did three additional writers, each with their own publishing companies.
“Obviously when you have a big hit song and other people jump in, there is going to be a discussion about the split," explains Mejía. "Let’s say the discussion didn’t take one day, but it didn’t take two years. We figured it out.”
4. Latin trap is rising: When asked to identify a new trend, Mejía zeroed in on the rising Latin trap movement: “It’s actually great songs, these great ballads, and then they add trap production. And that is going full circle with great songs and great songwriters.”
5. Current Latin music hubs: Medellin, Colombia, Miami and the whole island of Puerto Rico are home to clusters of creativity. “And most recently, there is a whole trap movement in Argentina. What’s most important is writers are joining forces in these cities.”