Rock en Espa?ol at the Crossroads

Amazing music, enthusiatic fans, recognition...what else is missing

By Chelina Vargas
Published on LatinoLA: February 7, 2003

Rock en Espa?ol at the Crossroads

Rock en Espa?ol's biggest enemies are the fans? ("Another View of Viva 107.1" at http://latinola.com/story.php?story=716)

Latin rock fans are the hardest working fans in the US!

Consider the following. If you are a Latin rock fan, you:

* Can turn on the radio and rarely hear your favorite bands being played.

* Can walk into a record store and rarely know that the CD you're looking for will be there.

* Will turn on the TV to rarely see your favorite bands performing live or videos being played.

* Will open up a magazine and rarely find articles, pictures or other information on your favorite bands.

On the contrary, if you are a Latin rock fan, you:

* Will probably have to scour record store aisles, talk to countless employees who won't know what you're talking about, and ultimately visit three or four record stores until you find the CD you are looking for - IF you're lucky.

* Will have to wait all week, then stay up until 1:00 am on a Sunday night to listen to an hour's worth of music from your favorite bands on a local college station.

* Will have to wait two months until the next issue of La Banda Elastica comes
out to read articles about your favorite bands.

* Will have to subscribe to digital cable (and usually pay extra $$) to access channels such as MTV Espanol and Mun2, just to catch a sporadic glimpse of your favorite bands' videos or interviews. Or, if you're lucky, you live in LA and have access to LATV.

If not for the undying support from these fans, how else would bands like Fabulosos Cadillacs, Jaguares, La Ley, Manu Chao, Control Machete, Juanes
and many others be able to enjoy gold record sales with LITTLE TO NO airplay
or video rotation in the US? Since we are talking about LA (previous home to Viva 107.1), if not for the fans, how else would Latin rock bands be able to sell out venues such as The Greek, Universal, House of Blues and the like? How would local acts such as Voz de Mano, Cabula, Pastilla, Viva Malpache and others be able to pack clubs on any given day of the week?

And how would a program such as The Red Zone be able to receive HIGHER
ratings than other Viva day-parts while on the air? Yes, I say HIGHER.

I was there, I saw the actual numbers. The Red Zone received more press in its one year of existence than Viva did during the station's entire life. The Red Zone didn't "try" to break new bands - it broke new bands, and to an amazing listener response.

It was the first radio show in the US ever to feature the Nortec Collective - who went on to win numerous awards in 2001 and be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. It was the first to debut Kinky, who are currently nominated for a Grammy this year, and have already won a Latin Grammy. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

The people who "complained" about The Red Zone were not rock fans - they were pop fans who wanted to hear music they were familiar with. We are talking about two different audiences here, let's not get confused. And yes, at a DANCE club, the audience will get up and dance to Caifanes or Mana and not Jumbo. Jumbo doesn't focus on making music to dance to. They are a rock band.

Furthermore, anyone with knowledge of how the music industry really works, would know that record sales reflect more than just a fan's appreciation of good music. Record sales are directly affected by how much money and effort a record label has dedicated to the marketing and promotions campaign of an album, availability of the album (if you can't find it, you can't buy it), cost of an album (which is always higher if not released by a US label), radio airplay, video rotation, etc, etc.

Latin rock music is gaining grounds every day, from the inclusion of categories in the Grammys and Latin Grammys, to the broadcast of the MTV VMA Latin America awards here in the US, to the creation of the Latin Alternative Music Conference which draws over 25,000 people to its events each year. Plastilina Mosh, Control Machete, Kinky, Nortec Collective and other Latin rock bands have all been used in major advertising campaigns over the past two years, for companies such as Evian, Levi?s, Volvo, Fidelity Mutual, Honda and others.

I do agree with you that the industry needs to support the genre more effectively, but to say that there is no audience, there are no advertising dollars to support it, and to place the blame on the fans as to why Latin rock hasn't flourished in the US is ridiculous.

The main reason why Latin rock in the US hasn?t flourished is a lack of knowledge, understanding and support from certain key decision makers in Hispanic radio, TV, retail, and record labels.

The amazing music is there. The existing fan base is there. The potential fan base is there.

So what else is missing?

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