Kid Cudi Launches Mobile App Encore to Help Artists Monetize Their Connections with Fans

Kid Cudi is keepin’ people connected to their idols…

The 36-year-old half-Mexican American rapper/actor, whose real name is Scott Mescudi, has joined forces with screenwriter Ian Edelman and startup veteran Jonathan Gray to launch Encore, a mobile-based platform to help artists monetize their connections with fans.

Kid Cudi

“The current streaming model puts artists in competition with one another and only rewards the top 1% of artists who collect 90% of the money,” a press release announcing the app explains. “Encore offers an all-new format that encourages collaboration amongst artists and makes it easy for up-and-coming and established artists to manage and grow a direct relationship with their fans. Artists can drop new music, chat with fans and host live shows from anywhere in the world.”

Encore enables live music experiences through smart phones, fan interaction, community centered content and merchandise offerings to give fans new ways to reward the artists they love.

“The energy from a concert is undeniable, both for the fans and artists. I am excited to launch Encore to help bring the live music experience back to our fans. Encore is committed to empowering both established and new artists and delivering the best mobile music experience out there,” Cudi says.

Earlier this year, Encore closed a $2 million seed round led by global investment firm Battery Ventures. General partner Roger Lee will join the board of directors.

Learn more at clapforencore.com.

Omar Apollo to Take Part in YouTube Music’s On-Demand Video Festival #FoundryFest

Omar Apollo is joining the Foundry

YouTube Music‘s first-ever #FoundryFest will feature 20 performances, premieres, videos and discussions with YouTube Foundry artists, including the 23-year-old Mexican American bilingual singer-songwriter.

Omar Apollo

The “So Good”singer will be joined by Dua LipaBeabadoobee and Rina Sawayama as part of the festival, which launches at 9:00 am ET on Friday, October 23.

Fans will be able to scroll through the offerings in the on-demand video series by searching #Foundryfest on YouTube, with new treats popping up throughout the day on the artist’s official You Tube channels.

“YouTube Music Foundry was a great resource to me early in my career, and I’m happy to be an alum of a program that helps support emerging artists from all over the world,” said 2015 Foundry alumni Lipa in a statement.

Other past and current Foundry artists from the service’s artist development program slated to participate in the event include: Arlo Parks, Joesef, Rauw Alejandro. Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Natanael Cano, Guapdad 4000, Lost Stories, Tessa Violet, Baby Rose, Michael Brun, Eladio Carrion, Novelbright, Lime Cordiale, Rei Ami, Adam Melchor, TESSÆ and Isabella Lovestory.

As with last week’s #SOSFEST, which collected funds for the National Independent Venue Association, #FoundryFest will raise money to support the nearly 3,000 U.S. venues, festivals and promoters who’ve been severely impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown.

“YouTube created Foundry in 2015, to celebrate developing artists from around the world and help them build a global fanbase, which holds true today. Artists are always ingenious, creative problem solvers, but I’m especially impressed by how they’ve navigated change this year,” said Naomi Zeichner, YouTube’s Artist Partnerships Lead in a statement. “#FoundryFest is a testament to the resiliency of the artist community, and I’m excited for fans to explore what these artists are creating right now, and hear more about their experiences this year.”

Camilo Surpasses J Balvin to Become Most-Followed Latin Artist on TikTok

Camilo is a TikTok king…

The Colombian singer-songwriter first started using TikTok in 2019 to promote his Pedro Capó-assisted single “Tutu.” But in March, following the release of his track “Favorito,” he decided to become more active on the platform — and go all-in on dance challenges.

Camilo

In the span of five months over the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Camilo increased his TikTok following by 10 million (his count jumped from 6 million to just over 16 million), surpassing J Balvin to become the most-followed Latin artist on the app.

His secret weapon? His wife, actress-singer Evaluna, 23.

“Whenever he has an idea or before he posts something, he asks for my opinion,” she says. “Everything posted on TikTok is a team effort.” She says that they usually plan a dance challenge long before a single release, dedicating a day to think of the choreography with help from their friend Paula Macher, who has over 1 million TikTok followers herself. “[She] knows all the latest trends and popular dance moves,” says Evaluna. “In the end, it helps push the song we’re promoting.”

Noel Nuez, TikTok’s director of operations for Spanish South America, believes that kind of collaboration has helped Camilo rake in new followers so quickly: “He’s surrounded by family and colleagues who are also well-integrated on TikTok themselves, which enables him to viralize across other top profiles and strengthen cross-profile storytelling.” Nuez says that in addition to “fully leveraging his creator network,” Camilo makes use of the app’s popular visual effects, like greenscreen, to “create a range of different content that incorporates his own music as a key component of the storytelling.”

Plus, Camilo doesn’t shy away from overpromotion, posting the same audioclip and dance challenge back to back to back. “The algorithm in TikTok is super different [from other social media platforms]: It doesn’t saturate your feed, and you don’t see all of my videos unless you enter my profile,” he says. He views each post as a new entry point for fans to reach his page, and so far it’s paying off.

In May, “Favorito” reached No. 25 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, and Camilo’s collaboration with Rauw Alejandro on “Tattoo (Remix)” peaked at No. 7 on the same chart in September, garnering 64 million on-demand U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. (On TikTok, the latter track has been tagged to 2.8 million videos, several of which are from Camilo and Evaluna.)

Camilo believes that more than any other strategy though, the driver of his TikTok success is authenticity. “The songs that I post on TikTok and the videos that we share best represent who I am and have a level of engagement [that’s delivered] in a very honest and transparent way,” he says. “Pretending will always lead to failure.”

Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” Becomes First Video to Surpass 7 Billion Views on YouTube

Luis Fonsi is still killin’ it on YouTube

The 42-year-old Puerto Rican singer and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” has officially become the first video in YouTube history to surpass 7 billion views.

Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee

According to YouTube, the music video, released in 2017, averages more than 1.4 million views a day (so far) in 2020 with Daddy Yankee currently No. 16 on the streaming platform’s Global Top Artists chart.

The record-breaking news comes just days after Telemundo and Billboard announced that Fonsi and Yankee will receive the Billboard Latin Song of the Decade award for “Despacito” at the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The top honor recognizes “Despacito” for its chart milestones, which include topping the Hot Latin Songs chart for a record 56 (non-consecutive) weeks, spending the most weeks at No. 1 for any title since the chart’s inception in 1986.

The song’s success also set the chart-topping longevity mark on Hot Latin Songs when it spent its 42nd week at the top on the February 17, 2018-dated tally, surpassing the 41-week reign of Enrique Iglesias, Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona’s “Bailando” in 2014-15.

In addition, “Despacito” made history at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 2017, tying the then all-time mark for weeks at No. 1 (16) set by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” in 1996.

Fonsi and Daddy Yankee are confirmed to perform at the Billboard Latin Music Awards set to take place on Wednesday, October 21, live from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

Ricky Martin Officially Launches New Venture Martin Music Lab

Ricky Martin is making sound music in the industry…

The 48-year-old Puerto Rican superstar has officially launched his new venture Martin Music Lab, a brand-new company centered around the breakthrough patent-pending audio technique that creates a new type of immersive, headphone listening experience.

Ricky Martin

Martin had originally worked with the audio technique, called “orbital audio,” on his re-released Latin Grammy-nominated album Pausa.

In partnership with multi-Grammy award winner and music mix engineer Jaycen Joshua and music engineer Michael Seaberg, Martin is now focused on offering artists and studios a new breed of immersive audio.

“We were happy with the album, we high-fived each other when it was released,” Joshua tells Billboard. “Then I get a call form Ricky basically saying that he’s heard something that ‘blew his mind’ and he wants to do it to his album. So, here I am thinking I’m going to help my brother out with some audio stuff but little did I know that the rabbit hole was so deep.”

It was then that Martin, Joshua and Seaberg began the creative process behind a technique that could be applied and optimized for any type of audio entertainment –– from music and movies, to gaming and sports –– to create a personal sound experience.

“I received this immersive audio from a friend of mine in Brazil and he said ‘you should do music like this’ and I really enjoyed what I was listening but I thought, we really need to make this perfect and what is perfect to me is to be able to grab track for track, channel for channel and individualize it,” Martin says.

The goal is to “engulf listeners within the complexities of a particular track and all of its nuances,” according to a statement from the newly-established company which has hired 10 master mixers who are working with different clients. “The Lab’s mission is to build a true audio journey that you can feel and one that resonates on an individual level.”

How the patent-pending audio technique works is that it creates an immersive headphone listening experience by using any type of headphone (wired or wireless). No need for an expensive surround system. “Everybody gets to experience this – even with cheapest headphones you have,” says Martin.

But nailing that technique sounds easier said than done, according to Joshua. “I discovered so many things about immersive audio, how advanced it is in virtual reality right now and how it’s going to pretty much take over the gaming industry,” says Joshua. “In music, it’s pretty complicated because it’s a whole different math. You have multiple signals coming in – meaning different instruments and vocals coming in at the same time. But Ricky would not give up and I wasn’t going to give up after seeing his passion and excitement to achieve this.”

After the trial and error period in the studio, “I saw the look in Ricky’s eyes and he said, ‘we need to give this to the world’ and that’s why we formed the company,” says Joshua, who adds that the “orbital audio” technique can be added at any point of the mixing process and it really just depends on an artist’s vision.

“With Pausa it was done after the fact it was released and after I mixed it. So, I took those recordings and put them in our orbital audio program and just started moving stuff to wherever Ricky wanted to place it. That’s how personal this process is.”

With artists A$AP RockyResidenteBad Bunny and Myke Towers already on board to work with Martin Music Lab, the company will also boast an executive advisory board comprised of top music executives like Noah Assad (Bunny’s manager), Rodney Jerkins and Chris Taylor.

“I chose them because these are people that are constantly pushing forward music and are constantly challenging the dignity of music,” says Martin. “These are powerful people that simply put know music.” Joshua adds, “the advisory board will let us know how to be better because we always want to evolve and grow. We wanted tastemakers to be game changers, too, and for them to be part of this process.”

With the hope of expanding this technique beyond the music industry and tap into the movies, sports and, most notably, the wellness and meditation space, both Joshua and Martin see this as an opportunity to heal and improve people’s mental health via music.

“We started with music but the idea is for people to start healing,” says Ricky. “For me personally, music is a release, it helps me focus and helps remove anxiety. I want to harness that power and unlock its potential to help others find the same level of calm and serenity. As much as this is about giving people a more personalized music experience, it’s also about improving their overall mental health.”

“She Se Puede” Digital Lifestyle Community for Latinas Launched by America Ferrera & Group of Powerful Latinas

America Ferrera is galvanizing the influence and power of the country’s Latinas.

The 36-year-old Honduran American actress and former Ugly Betty star has partnered with Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria to launch She Se Puede, a digital lifestyle community created for Latinas.

America Ferrera & Eva Longoria

Ferrera, Longoria and a group of powerful Latinas have high hopes for the new destination for the modern Latina.

“It’s a media platform that … inspires and affirms and informs Latinas on how to leverage our power in a way that transforms our lives, our families and our communities,” says Longoria.

She Se Puede

Inspired by Dolores Huerta’s enduring phrase, “Sí, se puede!” the nonprofit initiative was also founded by experts in the political, entertainment and organizational worlds: Alex Martínez Kondracke, Carmen Perez, Christy Haubegger, Elsa Collins, Jess Morales Rocketto, Mónica Ramírez, Olga Segura, and Stephanie Valencia.

The site will cover fashion, health, culture and politics, an important subject during this election year.

Latinos account for 32 million eligible voters, the country’s largest ethnic voting block. She Se Puede, says Longoria, aims to “build a culture that allows Latinas to see that power, believe in that power and see that full potential released.”

The platform’s launch also comes amid a pandemic in which 34 percent of essential workers are Latino and communities of color have been hit hardest by job losses and lack of health care, as well as a divisive presidential election that sees Joe Biden trailing in the Latino vote in Florida, according to one poll. “We all truly know who’s on the side of Latinos, and it’s definitely not Trump,” she says. “This is the man whose administration is locking kids up in cages, who creates travel bans from countries that are poor, who wanted to sell Puerto Rico and exchange it for Greenland.

She Se Puede is a community where Latinas can find information that addresses our unique needs and supports us to move ourselves, our communities, and our country forward. To learn more, visit shesepuede.org.

Mariachi Divas Among the Acts Taking Part in Mariachi USA’s First-Ever Digital Festival

Mariachi Divas are among the acts taking their Mariachi USA show online…

For the first time in its 30 years of existence, the Mariachi USA festival is going digital and hosting a free two-hour special event in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, featuring the Grammy-winning all-female mariachi band based in Los Angeles.

Mariachi Divas

The virtual festival will take place on Sunday, October 11.

The festival, founded in 1990 by artist and producer Rodri J. Rodriguez, was held every summer at the iconic Hollywood Bowl, but because of COVID-19, this year’s event will look different.

“To know we weren’t having a show at the Bowl was heartbreaking,” Rodriguez tells Billboard. “We know what this festival means to our musicians, which is exposure, and our now multigenerational audience since we are now entertaining the grandkids and great grandkids of those who have supported us since day one.”

This year’s virtual fest, which will stream on YouTube, will feature mariachi ensembles from all over the U.S., including Mariachi Divas, Mariachi Los ReyesMariachi Lindas Mexicanas and Mariachi Nuevo Tecatitlán, to name a few.

“We still have to take music to the people and I needed to create something that would put a little bit of money in our musician’s pockets because they are hurting,” says Rodriguez.

Sidelined by the global pandemic, the mariachi community, which depends heavily on gigs in order to make an income, has reinvented the serenata. Now, wearing face masks in addition to their traditional charro suit and standing six feet apart from each other is the new norm.

Rodriguez also had to reinvent the festival in order to make it work. “We had to pre-record everyone because mariachi is very unique. It’s not just three or four bandmembers. Some groups have 16 and each state has different COVID-19 regulations,” Rodriguez explains. “Some recorded in backyards, horse ranches and empty theaters. I have been so impressed with how everyone stepped up. It’s exciting and motivating.”

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, Rodriguez hopes this virtual festival will remind the Latino community that, “there is pride in what we do and what we own. What we own is our heritage and our culture and no one can take that away from us,” she says. “With our concerts we deliver a very specific message and that’s a message of passion and the pride that we all carry within us and that cannot be silenced.”

The first-ever virtual Mariachi USA festival will stream here on Sunday starting at 8:00 pm ET.

Robert Trujillo & Metallica Top Billboard’s Top Facebook Live Videos Chart for August

Robert Trujillo is celebrating a social media feat…

The 55-year-old half-Mexican American bassist and his Metallica band mates’ final installment of its Metallica Mondays on Facebook Live has ended with a bang, as the rockers rule Billboard’s Top Facebook Live Videos chart for August 2020.

Metallica

The chart, the latest of which recaps August 2020 activity, is a monthly look at the widest-reaching and most-reacted-to videos posted by musicians on Facebook Live, as tracked by media analytics company Shareablee. Rankings are determined by a formula that blends reactions, comments, shares and first-seven-days views.

Posted on August 25, Metallica’s final (at least for now) Metallica Mondays video featured the band’s March 3, 2017, concert from Mexico City.

Metallica’s upload paced the field for August 2020 in first-seven-days views (1.5 million), comments (23,000) and shares (20,000), according to Shareablee. It was also reacted to 52,000 times.

The week’s victor in reactions, meanwhile, was Larry Hernandez, whose August 26 post racked up 78,000 reactions. Hernandez’s video prominently featured his new daughter, Dalett, who was born earlier this year.

Here’s the full top 10 list:

10. Garth Brooks
9. Grupo5
8. Larry Hernandez
7. Garth Brooks
6. Garth Brooks
5. Luke Bryan
4. La Sonora Dinamita
3. Prince Royce
2. Larry Hernandez
1. Metallica

Karol G’s “Tusa” Music Video, Featuring Nicki Minaj, Enters YouTube’s Billion Views Club

Karol G is now part of an exclusive club…

The 29-year-old Colombian singer is celebrating a major career milestone as her single “Tusa,” featuring Nicki Minaj, has officially entered YouTube’s Billion Views Club.

Karol G, Tusa, Nicki Minaj

“Today we’ve reached one billion views on YouTube. The first song of mine to achieve this figure,” the Colombian artist expressed on Instagram, also sharing that the relatable bop has surpassed four billion on digital streaming. “I celebrate this with you all who made this possible. Infinite thanks.”

“Being No. 1 in many countries was like seeing that it was number one in your hearts and of millions of people at the same time,” she noted. “That regardless of the language, people from all over the world connected with it.”

“Tusa,” released on November 7, 2019, is about a girl who thinks she’s over her ex but gets really sad whenever she hears the song that reminds her of him. Minaji’s rap verses, on the other hand, assures the ex that it’s his loss and now she’s moved on.

In a previous interview with Billboard, Karol G explained that “Tusa” is Colombian slang for heartache.

As for how to get over that “Tusa”? She says she has the technique down to a science: “First and foremost, work out. Look awesome so he eats his heart out the next time he sees you.”

In addition to “Tusa,” Karol G counts with two other entries on the Billion Views Club collaborating with Anuel AA on his tracks “Secreto” and “China.” This marks Minaj’s fifth entry with more than one billion views.

Amazon Music Launches Amazon Music LAT!N Hub, Featuring Exclusive Music, Videos & More From Artists Like Natanael Cano

Natanael Cano has found a new connection

Amazon Music is putting a big focus on Latin music with the launch of “Amazon Music LAT!N,” featuring the 19-year-old Mexican singer in a new editorial video series, Género101,

Natanael Cano

The Latin music brand features a broad umbrella that includes over 100 new and revamped playlists, an emerging artist program, merchandise, video and multiple catalog programs among many other initiatives.

Using the tagline “La Musica que nos conecta” — a reference to the fact that Latinos come from many countries and cultures but are connected by music and language — the LAT!N hub, which includes music in Spanish and Portuguese, will live within Amazon at amazon.com/latinmusic.

It seeks to establish Amazon as a major player in Latin music streaming and content, as well as retail.

“The big differentiator [with other streaming services] is the ability to work cross functionally with the other Amazon verticals and services like Twitch and Prime Video,” explains Rocío Guerrero, who assumed the newly created position of global head of Latin music at Amazon in January.

“We can do things 360. It’s unparalleled and it will live within the Amazon.com ecosystem.”

Prior to Guerrero’s arrival, Amazon Music had been relatively perfunctory with its approach to Latin music, offering playlists and a big catalog but little else. Latin content was hardly ever marketed  The launch of LAT!N marks a major investment and commitment to the music.

“What they want is to expand with even more audiences and fans and engage them with Latin music,” Guerrero says. A major thrust is positioning Amazon as a destination that focuses not only on reggaetón and urban music, which dominate the major Latin playlists around the world, but on all genres of Latin music, aiming for Amazon’s “broader” — as Guerrero calls it — audience, including older listeners.

“For instance, genres like bachata, salsa and Regional Mexican are big in Amazon Music,” she says. “We have a spotlight now. And we can shine a light on all the genres of Latin music.”

Guerrero came to Amazon from Warner Music Latin, but previously spent years overseeing U.S. Latin content in Spotify. Since joining Amazon in late 2019 she has expanded the Latin music global team, hiring Ana Martinez as label relations and Cristina Martin to head marketing for Latin music global and retaining Amaya Mendizabal as senior music curator.

After planning for the first half of the year, the official LAT!N kickoff features an original, acoustic version of Maluma’s global hit “Hawái.” It will be followed by exclusive weekly releases of new renditions by Karol G, Christian Nodal and Romeo Santos during Hispanic Heritage Month, with more planned moving forward.

At the same time, a catalog program called “Raices” will kick off with a spotlight on Marc Anthony that includes a mini documentary shot in his home, and will highlight Latin catalog content on a monthly basis. Likewise, an emerging artist program, “Rompe,” which is similar to Amazon’s “Breakthrough” program in the U.K., will highlight a local emerging artist every month, beginning with Colombia’s Las Villa and Interscope artist Nobeat.

New content will go beyond music to include five new editorial video series, available in English and Spanish. The first, Género101, will highlight different sub-genres of Latin music, beginning with an episode on corridos tumbaos explained by Natanael Cano. An Alexa component is also in development that will allow listeners to ask their virtual assistant questions and get replies in different artists’ voices.

The core of LAT!N, of course, will continue to be playlists — now expanded to 100 — including Latin global hits playlist Platino (formerly titled Fuego Latino), new music playlist Hoy, and a Clásicos playlist that features classics for each genre. Says Guerrero: “We cannot commit to just one audience only.”