Trailblazers is an MBW interview series that turns the spotlight on music entrepreneurs making waves in their local markets, who have the potential to become the global business’s power players of tomorrow. This time, we speak to Carlos Aristides, CEO of Brazil-based music company Vybbe.
Brazil is a country of extraordinary proportions and extraordinary potential for the music business.
Of the South American market’s 214 million-plus population, over 165 million people (77%) are estimated to be connected to the internet, according to a Hootsuite’s DIGITAL 2022: BRAZIL report.
The population is also young and highly engaged with social media.
The 18-to-24 age bracket is estimated to account for 10.8% of the population, while 15.8% of the population is aged between 25 and 34.
Citing figures from ByteDance advertising resources, Hootsuite’s report states that TikTok had 74.07 million users aged 18 and above in the country in early 2022.
Furthermore, according to the report, 72.4% of internet users aged 16 to 64 are listening to music streaming services each month.
This is all good news for Brazil’s recorded music business of course, where streaming accounted for the lion’s share (85.6%) of the market’s revenues in 2021, generating revenues of BRL 2.111 billion (approx USD $391m). That was up 32% year-on-year according to Pro-Musica Brasil.
Carlos Aristides, CEO and founding partner of prominent Brazil-based independent music company Vybbe, argues however, that there’s still a lot of growth ahead for South America’s biggest recorded music market.
“Brazil is a country of continental dimensions, extraordinarily diverse, and culturally rich. Even so, in the vast majority of the country, there is still no broadband internet access; therefore, we have a meager rate of penetration of video and audio streaming,” he says.
“Away from the big capitals, it is still widespread to consume music through CDs, pen-drives, which also dramatically favors piracy. I believe that our biggest challenge still lies in democratizing high-speed Internet access and educating the mass population to use apps like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, YouTube and others.”
“Brazil is a country of continental dimensions, extraordinarily diverse, and culturally rich.”
Carlos Aristides, Vybbe
Aristides, a ‘forró’ genre expert and music industry veteran of over 20 years, has played a key role in breaking artists nationally in Brazil like Aviões do Forró, Xand Avião; Avine Vinny; Priscilla Senna; Zé Vaqueiro; Nattan, among others
He tells MBW that the “blueprints” for Vybbe, a record label and management company, which launched in 2020, “existed on paper for a long time”.
“The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this whole process,” he says. “The entertainment and music markets were the first to stop and the last to return to activities, and the reality is that we all ended up having the necessary time to create Vybbe. We needed to generate something new, for a unique moment. It was as if we had gone through a reset and needed to start our machine, so to speak.”
Some of Vybbe’s biggest stars include Zé Vaqueiro, NATTAN, Felipe Amorim, and Mari Fernandez who have 24 million monthly Spotify listeners combined. Mari Fernandez has 9 million alone.
Aristides tells MBW that it’s “important to mention that all these artists have [had] relatively short careers”. NATTAN, for example, only started releasing music in 2019. All the others, says Aristides, started releasing music in 2021 and 2020.
Looking to the future of the company, Aristides tells MBW that he hopes, “Vybbe will become a hotbed of new talent in the music industry” and insists that his ambitions extend beyond Brazil.
“Our goal,” he says, “is to be a music company of all genres, an increasingly global company”.
Here, Carlos Aristides tells us how he’s blazing a trail in the independent music business in Brazil, and how he plans on expanding his company’s footprint globally.
How did you first get into the music business?
I come from a family that traditionally works with music, concerts, events, and bands. Around the age of 18, I started to get involved with my father’s band, Caviar com Rapadura; I took a liking to it and started to create my own convictions about the business. At one point, my father and I understood that it was time for me to follow my path and put into practice everything I had in mind. That’s when the idea of creating Aviões do Forró came up.
We launched Aviões do Forró in September 2002, with around 200,000 copies of the first album sold. The band spent 13 years with more than 14 million CDs and DVDs sold worldwide, with shows in Brazil, the United States, and several European countries.
Since then, [my career of] 20 years [has included] releasing bands and artists from the Forró universe [like] Forró Muído, Solteirões do Forró, Forró dos Plays, Zé Cantor, Ávine Vinny, Priscila Senna, Zé Vaqueiro, Nattan, Felipe Amorim, Mari Fernandez, among others.
What have been some of your career highlights?
I would highlight the beginning of it all, with the creation of Aviões do Forró, which [was released by [Universal Music [Brazil].
The second moment that defined my career was transitioning from Aviões do Forró to the launch of Xand Avião‘s solo career. Until then, Aviões began as a duo of singers Solange Almeida and Xand Avião. With Sol’s departure from the band, the challenge was to design the new image and brand positioning of Xand; we changed the artistic approach with a new band, and new repertoire; then Xand’s first solo release was the promotional No Comando, which broke the record with 2 million downloads and 5 million streams in 2 months. Today Xand remains one of the leading names not only of Forró but of Brazilian music.
And the third moment is what I’m still living: the challenge of launching and developing the career of new [artists], such as Zé Vaqueiro, NATTAN, Felipe Amorim, and Mari Fernandez who together have a total of 24 million monthly listeners with Mari Fernandez being the biggest with 9.2 million monthly listeners.
It is also important to mention that all these artists have relatively short careers that the longest one is from NATTAN who started releasing songs in 2019, all the others began in 2021 or 2020.
You have been responsible for launching the careers of a number of artists – how hard is it to break artists in Brazil today?
The processes for releasing an artist remain basically the same. Part [of the choice about signing an] artist includes [whether or not] he’s a good talent, if he sings well, [or] if he has charisma. It’s the same basic principles.
What has changed is that, with the globalization of the internet, the way to reach people today is more direct. Before, we depended a lot on the radio and TV. Today, we have a direct channel – not only with fans but with the public in general – through digital platforms, reaching everywhere simultaneously. This change made it more manageable regarding an artist’s maturation time and arrival time from the distribution point of view to places and people.
But apart from that point, the artist’s success is still closely linked to the music, the choice of a good repertoire, excellent arrangements, and an impeccable production.
Why did you launch Vybbe and what have been some of the company’s highlights over the past couple of years?
We were already working with new names that, during the pandemic, burst into Brazilian music with forró and piseiro. Mari Fernandez, Zé Vaqueiro, Nattan, and Felipe Amorim achieved [No.1s] in the Brazilian charts during this period and were the new names that we announced alongside Xand Avião, Zé Cantor, Avine Vinny and Priscila Senna when we launched Vybbe in May 2021.
Since then, we are managing to keep our artists at the top of the charts on Brazilian platforms. This year, we had two No.1s [with] No Ouvidinho (by Felipe Amorim), and Balanço da Rede (by Xand Avião and Matheus Fernandes).
Furthermore, Mari Fernandez, NATTAN, Felipe Amorim and Xand Avião always remain among the 50 most listened-to artists on Spotify Brasil showing how much the genre has grown since 2018 and how strong the genre has become all over Brazil.
Vybbe has [also] achieved the impressive accomplishment of having 12 songs in the top 100 of Spotify Brazil.
What differentiates Vybbe from other players in the market?
Vybbe was conceived to be a company that cares about others, about people, committed to renewal and encouraging the entry of new people into the world of music in general. We are preparing new features to support this project of generating new talents with a robust structure that includes artistic, marketing, image positioning, phonogram management, and much more.
What are your ambitions for the company over the coming years?
I hope Vybbe will become a hotbed of new talent in the music industry, from the embryonic stage to professionalization, launching, and encouraging the development of new talents. This premise goes beyond a wish. Our dream is that Vybbe becomes one of the leading entertainment companies in Brazil, generating new opportunities, creating new labels, and new products, all of this in addition to our original genre, which is forró. Our goal is to be a music company of all genres, an increasingly global company.
Brazil’s music market value was USD $338m in 2021, up from USD $252m in 2020 – What are your predictions for the growth of the music industry in Brazil over the next five years?
Brazil is the 11th [biggest] music market in the world, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), with a turnover of R$ 2.1 billion in 2021, driven essentially by the consumption of streaming platforms.
These numbers have doubled in recent years, and the trend is for this curve to continue rising because, in Brazil, there is still an audience to be captivated on the internet, and a portion of the population still does not have access to streaming platforms.
The consumption of music via streaming has a lot of space to grow and in my opinion, it is still far from stabilizing.
What trends are you seeing in the market, business or creative, that Vybbe is looking to capitalize on at the moment?
The music industry has learned a lot from technological innovation and does not want to be left behind when we talk about new trends like the metaverse, NFTs, blockchain, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
These new tools are an opportunity for us to bring artists even closer to the public, to have their own personalized space in the Metaverse. So, I believe that the next step in the music industry is to begin focusing on increasing the user experience by exploring hybrid musical experiences, that mix the real and virtual worlds. To name some examples: giving exclusive virtual reality access to an exclusive festival launch party, digital assets that can generate new income for artists, gamification of music consumption and more. The possibilities become endless.
What advice would you give to a music executive trying to build a music company in Brazil today?
I believe there are many challenges in the music industry today. I believe the best place to start a company today in the music world is being surrounded by good professionals and partners who bring technological knowledge with marketing expertise and having the best tools to improve our performance and increase our credibility in the segment. These [pieces of] advice can be applied to any [field]: being surrounded by good professionals and good people.
Trailblazers is supported by Believe. Believe offers advice to independent artists and labels, in addition to distributing and promoting their music through a portfolio of brands including TuneCore, Nuclear Blast, Naïve, Groove Attack and AllPoints.Music Business Worldwide