‘Latin artists have been paving the way for deals that offer more control, transparency, and better economics.’

Alejandra Olea, Believe's MD, Americas

MBW’s World Leaders is a regular series in which we turn the spotlight toward some of the most influential industry figures overseeing key international markets. In this feature, we speak to Alejandra Olea, Managing Director, Americas at Believe. World Leaders is supported by PPL.

There is no mistaking the global music biz’s biggest breakthrough independent hit of the past few months.

Spanish artist Iñigo Quintero’s Si No Estás rose to the top of Spotify‘s Global Top 50 in late October – and has stubbornly refused to leave the upper reaches of digital charts ever since. (Even amongst the early December onslaught of Christmas standards in Spotify’s flagship global chart, the Spanish-language track currently remains comfily snuggled in at No.7.)

To date, having only been released on September 23, Si No Estás has racked up over 330 million plays on Spotify, and over 100 million on YouTube.

Spotify’s current Global Top 50 weekly chart, with Iñigo Quintero standing firm at at No.7

From a music industry perspective, Si No Estás is especially interesting because it provided Believe, the Paris-headquartered indie biz giant, with its first-ever chart-topper on Spotify’s Global Top 50.

Iñigo Quintero – who last week released his follow-up track. Lo Que Queda de Mí – was signed to Believe in March via indie label/aggregator Acqustic.

The act’s worldwide success is just part of the story of Believe’s steady growth in Latin music in the past few years, which has been led by Alejandra Olea, the company’s Managing Director, Americas.

Here, as part of our World Leaders series, Olea discusses the Iñigo Quintero story – including TikTok’s vital role in the explosion of Si No Estás.

Olea also discusses Believe’s unique position in the growth of Latin music – and, more generally, how she sees independent artists continually changing the game in the global business…

What has been the story of Inigo’s global hit so far? Where did it come from and how did it explode in 2023?

Believe has been working with Iñigo Quintero since March of this year. The success of the track is the result of outstanding teamwork between the artist, his label, Believe and our global digital partners, more specifically Spotify and TikTok in this case.

In the initial discovery phase, we developed the audience of the track with the label mostly through Believe’s expertise of marketing on Spotify. Secondly thanks to our short-form video trends detection technology, we noticed some acceleration on the propagation of the track and consequently we leveraged our partnership with TikTok, as well as coordinated promotion from all our teams around the world with Spotify.

Our global partnerships with both TikTok and Spotify allowed us to combine marketing and promotion campaigns for the track in each service at both local level in key early markets – Spain, Latin America, France – as well as globally.

“Our global partnerships with both TikTok and Spotify allowed us to combine marketing and promotion campaigns for the track in each service at both local level in key early markets.”

As a result of the work of our teams all around the world, the track has been included in over 180 playlists across all digital music partners and in over 79 playlists and over 97 million followers on Spotify only, including reaching #1 of Spotify’s Top 50 – Global, the first time ever for a Believe track, as well as being featured on Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits, Spotify’s biggest playlist, and topping Spotify’s Viral 50 and Top 50 playlists around the world.

To this day, our partnership with TikTok has resulted in a total of more than 5 million creations (according to MediaMatch).

Along with TikTok on the social side, we have leveraged Instagram to drive engagement around Iñigo and the song globally. Our teams, who have a very robust video expertise to maximize content across platforms, built Iñigo’s YouTube channel from the ground up, optimizing it and directing traffic to it by creating the official lyric video as its first video, so that music fans could find and listen to his music on the platform.

Since then, the lyric video for Si No Estás has reached 100 million views to date. [It’s currently ranked at #13 on YouTube’s Top 100 Global Music Videos.]

We are now in a new phase to deepen and expand the success by promoting the track on more traditional media in key countries, where the track is rapidly gaining radio airplay and unlocking other promotional opportunities.

The success of Si No Estás illustrates very well how much artist development has changed. Social media and digital music services have now become the #1 source of music discovery. Believe has developed an innovative, AI and data-driven expertise to develop tracks and artists that is unique in the music industry.

“The success of Si No Estás illustrates very well how much artist development has changed. Social media and digital music services have now become the #1 source of music discovery.”

The key to success is great partnerships with the artist and his label, and being able to combine strong AI data-driven expertise to maximize momentum for an artist and a track at the right time with the right tools and the right partnerships, supported by both local and global teams.

This last element is particularly important, and truly one of Believe’s strengths: being able to mobilize our teams multi-locally and globally to accompany audience development for our artists. We expect this is only the beginning for Iñigo Quintero and also anticipate many more successes like his in the future.

How did it end up distributed by Believe via Acqustic?

Believe’s strength is our presence across 50 countries around the world. By deploying local teams on the ground, we are fully part of the local music scenes, and are able to identify the labels and artists with the most potential. So locally, our team’s role is to select local artists and labels to partner with and accompany them in their development.

We are very selective on our approach as our goal is to provide them, regardless of their level of development, with the highest level of quality of service in the market. In the case of Iñigo, we identified Acqustic as a promising new label in 2020, with a great team, a strong A&R vision and great track record. In March 2023, they signed Iñigo and now Si No Estás is the smashing success we know.

It’s now all about building upon that success and accompanying the artist and the labels we service in their next phase of growth. This is made possible thanks to Believe’s unique ability to adapt the level of service to the needs of the artist and label: the more successful they become, the more their needs evolve, and the more we are able to provide the best support to supercharge that growth.

I know Inigo is Spanish, but what would you say is driving the ability of Latin artists (particularly Latin American artists) to date to have global hits on distribution agreements – without signing (even licensing) deals with major record labels?

Spanish-speaking music, from Spain and Latin America, just keeps getting bigger. Spanish and Latin artists have much more options to develop their audiences and monetize their music at each stage of their career.

Artists like Iñigo Quintero and labels like Acqustic are prime examples of this profound shift within the Latin and wider music industry. We are in a world where music discovery and consumption are now primarily digital, and artists have now understood that. They look for partners who get it too and whose expertise will allow them to leverage digital platforms to reach new and existing audiences wherever they are.

“Artists today are also much more conscious of their career trajectory and look for better deals, with more freedom, more transparency, and more options.”

This is especially the case in Spanish-speaking markets, where music fans are amongst the most engaged audiences in the world, whether on digital platforms or on social media. Music content is consumed with more frequency, in different formats, across multiple platforms and through different aspects related to the track.

Beyond that, artists today are also much more conscious of their career trajectory and look for better deals, with more freedom, more transparency, and more options. They want to keep ownership of their masters, and get better economics.

This level of agility is at the very core of Believe’s structuring: from self-releasing services with TuneCore, to more premium services with Believe Label and Artist Solutions or Artist Services Solutions, we pride ourselves for being able to accompany talents like Iñigo at all stages of their development, from being emerging acts, all the way to becoming top charting artists.

Can we read anything into the fact that Inigo is Spanish, and how the trend identified above (i.e. Latin American artists having hits without being on major record company deals) is starting to spread to different corners of the world and different genres? We just had RAYE enjoying gobal success independently with Escapism, and in the US earlier this year there was of course Oliver Anthony going to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100…

For many years now, Latin artists have been paving the way for deals that bring them more control, transparency, and better economics.

Looking at the global picture, beyond Spanish-speaking artists, there truly is something bigger at play here. We do see, all around the world, more and more artists able to reach massive levels of success, not only in their own markets, but internationally too, without the need to for major label support and traditional label deals.

At Believe, Inigo has of course been a fantastic example of this. But we have also had similar success stories in other markets, notably France, where the Top 5 albums of the week of June 16th where all by artists signed to Believe directly or through their labels.

“Looking at the global picture, beyond Spanish-speaking artists, there truly is something bigger at play here.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Blanco has been skyrocketing in the UK, while RAF Camora & HoodBlaq in Germany also peaked at #1 in June 2023 in the Official German Album Charts for RAF Camora’s XV RR, a re-edition of his album XV.

Similarly, Indonesia’s Nadhif Basalamah’s Penjaga Hati was the #4 global viral song on Spotify in the week of October 16th and Idgitaf peaked at #1 on Spotify’s Viral Charts. And of course, another fantastic example is Regional Mexican powerhouse Grupo Frontera, whose latest album, El Comienzo, released early August, peaked at #1 on Spotify’s Top Album Debut USA, Top Album Debut Global, Top Songs Debut Global and Top Songs Debut USA, with +1.6 billion streams on Spotify to date.

So there are indeed more and more artists getting huge amounts of traction and rising to the top of the charts, without traditional major label support. We see this trend getting bigger and bigger and gaining more and more markets.

World Leaders is supported by PPL, a leading international neighbouring rights collector, with best-in-class operations that help performers and recording rightsholders around the world maximise their royalties. Founded in 1934, PPL collects money from across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. It has collected over £500 million internationally for its members since 2006.Music Business Worldwide

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