“Nothing is easy to sell, and specifically when you’re dealing with artists.”
Nelson Albareda takes a moment to reflect on the past six months of work from his Miami office. He took time out of his busy schedule on a weekday morning to discuss this Saturday’s livestream concert starring global Latin superstar Marc Anthony. Produced by Albareda’s quickly growing Loud and Live entertainment empire in partnership with Anthony’s Magnus Studios, One Night Only is expected to be one of the biggest livestream concerts the industry has seen (if not the biggest) since the virtual format became popular with the arrival of COVID-19 a year ago.
“I had to convince [Marc] that he could not only be a pioneer but that he could be the hottest-selling ticket in a livestream COVID environment,” Albareda says. “I’ve known Marc for many years, and his agent is a good friend. We approached him, and it took about four to five months to convince him. But we convinced him.”
The April 17 event, featuring Anthony alongside his 20-plus-member backing band, has already sold tickets in over 90 countries, with Billboard reportedly projecting viewership in the range of 100,000 worldwide, though Loud and Live says it's not publishing numbers. At the time of this interview, the event's producers had just announced an addition to the bill — reggaeton crossover superstar Daddy Yankee — as if fans desperate for any form of entertainment needed any more encouragement.
Saturday’s concert stands to be the latest in a string of successes for Albareda’s Loud and Live, which launched in 2017 and has since become a power player in global music events, sports and fitness, and lifestyle marketing. The company made another major move earlier this year, launching a new content arm, Loud and Live Studios, which will produce livestream events, podcasts, short- and long-form content, music specials, documentaries, and branded content.
"Obviously, COVID was huge to us. It was a big hit," Albareda says. "A startup company going into its second year — fast growth. And all of a sudden, COVID hits you, and our live event business was 95 percent down. That kind of made us really fast-forward to reinvent ourselves. While we had been planning to launch a content arm in 2023, we said, 'Hey, you know what? Let’s fast-forward.'"
Loud and Live Studios has already signed a deal to produce two HBO specials. The first, Piano y Mujer, a concert special that will premiere on HBO Max and HBO Latino this Friday, April 16, featuring five female Latin singers performing alongside pianist Arthur Hanlon at the Faena Theater in Miami Beach. The company is also in the pre-production stage of a Celia Cruz documentary. And last November, Loud and Live produced a pair of livestream concerts featuring Argentine-Venezuelan singer Ricardo Montaner and Argentine rock artist Fito Paez.
With in-person concerts gradually starting to return to Miami and select markets across the country, Albareda remains adamant that high-quality content and streaming won't be a COVID-era fad.
“We’re going to see long-form content grow stronger,” he says confidently. “I think with millennials and social media, we’ve seen a lot of short content and short attention spans, but we’ve been seeing a trend towards long-form content.”
Adds Albareda: “I think virtual and livestream experiences will continue. I don’t think they will be misplaced in a non-COVID world.”
The toughest challenge for an event promoter attempting to sell tickets, sponsorships, and audience attention via the virtual concert model is establishing intimacy when there is no longer the in-person connection between artist and fan. Albareda says that obstacle requires him to channel his own inner fan, as well as his decades of experience in the industry.
“As a fan, what I want to see is content that I have not seen before. Experiences that I have not been able to experience at a show,” he says, describing how he created a unique viewing experience for Marc Anthony's upcoming performance. “I do think that the intimacy part is difficult because it is, for any artist. It just comes down to the content. What is unique about that content, and what would you be able to learn, or see, or experience there that you wouldn’t be able to experience at a live show.”
Albareda, who was born in Miami to Cuban parents, took the helm of Eventus in 2008, growing the business into the largest multicultural marketing agency in the United States by the time he sold it to Advantage Solutions in 2013. Albareda stayed on as CEO until 2016, when he left to launch Loud and Live.
Albareda and his team have leveraged their collective marketing expertise to bring in big-name partners for One Night Only, including American Express, Rums of Puerto Rico, and Walmart. Marketing and partnerships, after all, are the backbone of Loud and Live. The company was responsible for aligning last year's partnership between McDonald’s and Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin.
“The J Balvin example with McDonald’s was groundbreaking because I don’t think a brand has ever used a Latin artist for a general marketing campaign,” Albareda says of the partnership, which launched in October. “We are constantly working with brands and showing them the landscape assessment of how Latin music has really gone mainstream, and how they should be using it and incorporating it as a cultural piece and a piece of every brand’s fabric.”
Even for an industry veteran as seasoned and connected as Albareda, the pandemic posed unique challenges. The biggest: figuring out how to get live events back up and running. Loud and Live cleared that bar earlier this year, presenting three sold-out shows featuring Gilberto Santa Rosa over Valentine’s Day weekend. The company recently announced an eight-show residency at the Fillmore in Miami Beach in May, featuring Colombian vallenato singer Silvestre Dangond.
“One thing that we learned is that people do want to go out, and people are not really as concerned as we might have thought with being out in COVID environments,” Albareda says, of the Santa Rosa series. “He’s an older crowd, and you would think that older crowd would be more concerned about going out during COVID, but not at all.”
For Loud and Live, the small steps back into in-person shows and the giant leap of the Marc Anthony livestream are only the beginning of the road back to glory.
“I think that the demand for shows is going to be huge,” Albareda says, flashing an optimistic grin. “I know we’ve heard everybody quoting the Roaring Twenties, and I do think it’s going to be back. It’s going to be bigger."
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