Music Execs Discuss Curation & Artist Storytelling at HipHopMagz Latin Music Week

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With streaming being central to the music business for years now regardless of genre, it was naturally a topic of conversation at Billboard Latin Music Week 2019 -- and, in fact, it was the central topic of one panel on Wednesday (April 24) at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Entitled The Evolution of Streaming Services (And What It Means for Artists and Labels), the five-person discussion was moderated by Billboard's consumer editorial director Ian Drew.

In conversation was Sandra Jimenez, head of YouTube LATM; Jennifer D'Cunha, head of U.S. Latin business at Apple Music; Seth Combs, CMO of Beat Fever; Parul Chokshi, director of talent and brand marketing at Vevo; and Lex Borrero, evp at Roc Nation.

Curation of videos was a subject broached, with Jimenez speaking to how much algorithms influence video viewing habits for the public. "Latin music has taken advantage of this possibility around the world," she says, while adding that YouTube still employs "editorial teams all around Latin America."

Apple Music's D'Cunha, on the other hand, says "at Apple Music, we're all about curation." She explained how her team are constantly "listening to songs, meeting with artists; that connection they make from getting to hear music early and then determining where they fit from a playlist perspective. We don't have algorithms -- it's a handmade approach to playlists."

Vevo takes a similarly hands-on approach. "We have a team that watches every video that comes through the platform," Chokshi says. "And every week we have a meeting and decide which ones deserve promotion. And we have emerging artist programs like DSCVR and Lift. Curation is a massive part of what we do."

Combs pointed out that success for an artist goes far beyond playlist curation these days, though. "Artists have to go beyond streaming platforms to think, 'How do I get my story out there?'" he said. "There's no easy way to get your song heard even with all the curation out there. It's telling your story on your terms in as many ways as you can."

Borrero agreed with the importance of storytelling. "Content is key in telling the story of artist regardless of how we deliver. It's what makes the different between artist and talent. A lot of people can sing; very few people can tell their story in a way to captivate the public."

"For us, it's about storytelling," Apple Music's D'Cunha said. "The digital world gives us so many opportunities to hear the stories the artists want to tell us… directly from the artists themselves."