It’s not a stretch to say that UTA’s music division reps the most sought-after Spanish-language solo acts in the world―global superstars Bad Bunny, Karol G, ROSALÍA, Anitta, Pitbull and Romeo Santos. The agency is coming off a pivotal 2022, which saw its Latin clients setting records and breaking new ground.

Last year Bad Bunny topped recorded music and the live industry with the #1 album in the U.S. and two sold-out tours, the El Ultimo Tour del Mundo arena trek and the stadium-sized World’s Hottest Tour (Live Nation). Bunny finished 2022 with 2.5m tickets sold and a gross of $435m—the highest ever in a single calendar year.

His fellow Rimas showstopper Karol G also had a huge touring year; her $trip Love (AEG) road show sold out arenas across North America, moving 660k tickets. She will headline Lollapalooza this year.

Both Karol G and Anitta appeared on Coachella’s main stage in 2022. The Indio outing is a particularly hospitable environment for UTA Latin acts. Bad Bunny is headlining this year―the first Latin solo artist to do so. He’ll close the two Friday nights. ROSALÍA is the second headliner on the Saturday nights. Puerto Rican rapper Eladio Carrión will make his debut in the desert this month.

Speaking of ROSALÍA, she’s topping the bill of major festivals the world over in 2023, including Primavera Sound, Roskilde and the Lollapalooza editions in France, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Santos has rolled out stadium dates on both coasts of the U.S.

The agency also reps veteran hitmaker Pitbull, who achieved the most successful treks of his career since 2021. Mr. 305's North American tours—the I Feel Good Tour and Can't Stop Us Now route—combined for over 1m tickets sold in 2021-22.

Beyond booking live performances, UTA music reps collaborate with their counterparts in the agency’s Branding and Partnerships and TV/Film divisions to expand the footprint of their Latin talent.

HITS spoke with UTA’s Jbeau Lewis (partner/music agent), Carlos Abreu (music agent, international), Melissa Newhart (executive, music brand partnerships) and Nigel Meiojas (talent agent) about orchestrating multi-sector brand expansion for these Latin stars, their success in 2022 and what is shaping up to be a banner 2023.

Let’s talk about Bad Bunny’s world domination.

Jbeau Lewis: Bad Bunny had an incredible, life-changing, culture-shifting, business-transforming year that we all got to experience. We were lucky to be alongside Bunny and [Rimas boss] Noah [Assad] and team for 2022. Coachella 2023 is the perfect exclamation point on all the success.

Karol G and Anitta made history in 2022 with their main-stage billing at Coachella. ROSALÍA will do the same this year. Were these strategic milestones you set?

Lewis: We’re being very intentional about the opportunities for our clients that are right for them. With respect to our friends at every other U.S. festival, Bad Bunny is only playing Coachella this year. Coachella stands alone as a global event. [Goldenvoice boss] Paul [Tollett] and his team are not afraid to take risks. Year in, year out, they push the boundaries on what you expect to see at the top of a major music festival. Of course [top billing at Coachella] is indicative of Bunny, ROSALÍA, Karol and Anitta’s status, but it’s also a sign of where that festival is willing to go. They also have a K-pop headliner. It’s world music.

Carlos Abreu: It’s a testament to Paul and how they program the festival. You see it from the fact that Bunny and ROSALÍA previously played Coachella and now they’ve returned, reflecting the American landscape and consumption of music. We’re seeing the acceptance of all these different styles of music that have become the mainstream. They’re no longer the “flavor” added to the lineup—this is what people are listening to.

ROSALÍA at the 2023 Louis Vuitton fashion show

What have you noticed about the audience supporting this group of stars?

Melissa Newhart: We’ve seen how dedicated, engaged and loyal their fans are. While these artists are newer to the general market, they’ve been building their careers and fan bases across the globe for years. Anitta, for example, was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys, which her fans found ironic since she’s been doing this for 10+ years.

Also, the fact that they didn’t skip any steps along the way; they’ve put in the work, with Bunny playing small clubs in Puerto Rico for years and Karol doing the same in Colombia and South America. They earned that strong audience, and when you have that, it expands.

What percentage of fans will purchase a product because of an artist and stay with that artist throughout their career? We’ve noticed on the brand side that beyond just having millions of followers, these acts generate not only interest but consumer loyalty.

Nigel Meiojas: It’s been interesting to see the makeup of the fan base grow and change over the last few years. When you go to a Bad Bunny concert, the range of age, gender, where people are from has completely evolved. We see it more and more in parallel industries. In regard to film/TV opportunities, the demand reflects the incredible reach these artists have. On the studio side, they want to tap into that core audience as well.

How did UTA attain this A-list Latin roster?

Newhart: Our team has been passionate about this space as genuine fans for years now. We approached the game differently. Look who’s on this call—international touring, domestic touring, festival touring, branding, film/TV—the company made the decision to support this genre very early, before there was a pattern of success in the market. We felt it, saw it, believed it and wanted to surround the artists with strategy from a very high-level perspective. We truly operate as a unit.

Lewis: The genuine partnership we have with Noah and the Rimas team—initially with Bunny and now with Karol and Eladio Carrión—has been a major driver in our shared success. They have entrusted us with the entirety of their business and any wins for the biggest artist in the genre only helps elevate other acts. When an artist signs with a full-service agency like ours and works in a true partnership, the results speak volumes.

How are you expanding these artists’ footprint in other sectors?

Meiojas: It’s been fun digging into each artists’ creative interests in other verticals. Bad Bunny is going to produce a new series for Netflix based on the bestselling book They Both Die at the End, which really spoke to him. The co-creator of Bridgerton and the EP of Yellowjackets are attached. He’s expanding his footprint beyond being onscreen. Karol G is going to star in a Narcos spinoff, Griselda, on Netflix. Anitta has landed a role in Netflix’s Élite. Romeo Santos, just secured a groundbreaking new deal with Audible at Amazon; they’re going to take four of his songs and turn them into a scripted audio series. He’s also producing a movie at Amazon. We’re seeing a lot of opportunities in various areas with these artists.

What’s next?

Lewis: It begins and ends with us being fans. There’s nothing formulaic about how we’re approaching these artists’ development. We want to be very judicious and prudent about what artists we take on, especially in this genre, where we’re working with the genre’s biggest names. We’d love to continue to expand our roster, but it will only be in a smart and strategic way.

Pictured at top: Lewis, Bad Bunny, Meiojas; bottom: Lewis, Karol G, Noah Assad, Jo-Ann Toro at the Super Bowl

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