As part of its Latin Women in Music package, Billboard celebrates U.S.-based “Hall of Fame” executives with over 20 years of experience in the music business, working actively for change, inclusion and gender parity in the Latin music industry.
Vp of catalog, Latin region, Spain & Portugal, Sony
Artaso leads Sony’s catalog strategy in the Latin Iberia region, developing innovative campaigns such as the coincidence of a Christmas campaign with the World Cup, which resulted in a 30% increase in Christmas catalog consumption. Artaso, who was previously based in Madrid, says moving to Miami in a leadership position was “transformative.” “It allowed me to have a more regional perspective and broaden my vision of how markets work, identify growth opportunities and strengthen my leadership in a multicultural and diverse environment.”
Senior vp of creative, Latin America, Kobalt Music
With a career that spans 20 years, eight of which have been at Kobalt Music, Ahrens says one of her “proudest and biggest achievements so far” is signing songwriters such as Karol G. “When we signed [her] in 2017, she was a relatively unknown artist. We believed in her talent, and to watch her grow and six years later become a global Latin female superstar is incredible,” she says. Ahrens credits Nestor Casonú, president of Latin America at Kobalt Music, for teaching her the publishing business since the day she started out as a receptionist.
Senior vp of entertainment, Loud and Live Entertainment
Arcay’s 20 years in the touring industry are reflected in her first decade as a promoter for NYK Productions, where she produced tours for Maná, Luis Miguel and Alejandro Sanz, to name a few; followed by eight years at WK Entertainment, where she was Carlos Vives’ tour manager and later promoted to business manager. Now, at Loud and Live, she manages multiple areas of the business with artists like Camilo, Farruko and Vives. Calling her grandmother, Carmen Gracian de Malpica, her biggest inspiration, she says: “She taught me that no goal was hard to achieve, that my voice matters and that I could be the career and family woman I always dreamt to be.”
Owner/president/CEO, MBS Special Events
With nearly four decades of experience in music and TV, Black-Suarez founded her own production and entertainment company, MBS Special Events, five years ago. Among the things that inspire her, she mentions good music and the opportunity to change someone’s life for the better, something she memorably remembers experiencing in the early 1990s, when she worked on an edition of the OTI Festival in the United States. “This singer-songwriter music contest gave me the first opportunity to change someone’s life,” she says. And it also changed hers: “After 30 years, I can reaffirm that I keep falling in love with this world and its stories.”
Head of buzz marketing, Apple Latin America
“The creativity that exists in the Latino community” continues to inspire Castillo-Vitale. One of her passions, in fact, is “singling out new creators early on,” says the executive, whose job at Apple is to establish and develop working relationships with influential people in the Latin American region. Among her greatest achievements, she cites “unique” moments in her career, from her beginnings as a producer at MTV to working with Madonna on the Maverick label and with Ricky Martin’s management team to joining talent agency CAA. “I look at my résumé and I feel proud to be a Latina woman who has worked at iconic companies and with leaders in their categories.”
President/CEO, Clavell Marketing/Diamond Music; artist manager, Ivy Queen
As a teen, Clavell sold candy at stoplights in Puerto Rico. Now she runs Clavell Marketing — where she oversees public relations and promotions to marketing, label management and concert promotion — as well as record label Diamond Music. During a stint at Pina Records, the Puerto Rican executive worked with artists such as Don Omar and Natti Natasha, before becoming manager for Ivy Queen. “I don’t like to focus on my own personal/professional achievements,” she says. “The greatest satisfaction is to see targeted results in every project and see the artists I work with have a very successful career.”
Luz María Doria
Vp/executive producer, Univision Communications; author
As vp and executive producer of Despierta América and Algo Personal con Jorge Ramos, Doria is one of the most influential figures on Hispanic TV in the United States and responsible for inviting countless artists to her shows. It is a task that she has carried out with determination since she joined Univision in 2002. But if something marked a before-and-after in her career, it was publishing her first book, La Mujer de Mis Sueños in 2016. “It gave me visibility and gave me the privilege of inspiring others with my own daily fight against fear,” says Doria, who in turn feels inspired by “people who dare and who get up early to try again because they weren’t able the day before.”
Vp, Latin division, West Coast, peermusic
Throughout her 20 years at peermusic, Drazan has been instrumental in growing the publisher’s Latin roster, which includes artists such as Chiquis, Gloria Trevi and Chayanne. Before joining peermusic in 2003, she was label manager for Gustavo Santaolalla’s label, Surco, whose releases included Juanes’ Un Día Normal and Molotov’s Dance and Dense Denso. “The artists I work with inspire me daily. I give them everything I have,” she says. “The weight of their careers sits squarely on my shoulders, and I don’t take that lightly.”
Managing director, Sony Music Central America & the Caribbean
Exposito began her career at Sony Music 12 years ago in brand partnerships, where she developed original content including the Pedro Capó documentary En Letra de Otro. In 2018, the film won Exposito a Latin Grammy for best long form video. Now, as managing director at Sony Music Central America & the Caribbean, she has propelled the label’s growth beyond the U.S. Latin market, helping marquee artists such as Manuel Turizo conquer new territories. Of her work ethic, Exposito says: “My grandmother taught me to work hard and make [my] dreams a reality. I’ll always be inspired by her.”
COO/executive vp, Latin Iberia, Sony Music Entertainment
Fernández is one of the most powerful women in the industry, but she rarely thinks about power. “For me, the real power is the one that doesn’t need to be shown,” she says. But she can see herself in the success of artists like Maluma, Camilo, Kany García and Shakira, and in the relationships that Fernández maintains with her superstars’ managers. Beyond Sony’s enormous success in 2022, Fernández is particularly proud to be the first Latina member of the Fender Musical Instruments board of directors. Among her many social projects, she supports Pine Villa Elementary School in Miami, which serves low-income children.
Vp, U.S. Latin & Latin America, ASCAP
“My grandmother, a writer and historian, was the strongest woman I have ever known,” says González. “She helped me find my passion for Latin music, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to champion so many talented Latino creators in my position at ASCAP.” As vp, González also supports emerging composers. “We partnered with the ASCAP Foundation to create Tu Música, a scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students of Latino descent who plan to pursue a career in music,” she explains. Under her direction, they will launch Latin Beat, which will “bring together five writers to write together and spend a day learning about the industry with a Grammy-nominated writer.”
Global head of Latin music, Amazon Music
“Never stop learning, taking risks and challenging myself” are words of advice Guerrero adopted early in her career. Before arriving at Amazon Music, Guerrero spearheaded many initiatives at Spotify, including launching the popular ¡Viva Latino! playlist. After a short stint at Warner Music Latin America, she joined Amazon Music in 2019 as its first-ever global head of Latin music. There, she has focused on identifying opportunities for emerging Latin acts and expanding the company’s global reach by launching Amazon Music LAT!N, a multiplatform hub that celebrates the nuances of Latin music.
Vp of digital business, Sony Music U.S. Latin
“One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is how we’re finding support for Spanish-language music within environments that were previously exclusively dedicated to English-language music in the United States,” says Igualador, who oversees Sony’s relations with all digital platforms, and “working with editors who don’t know the language and being considered as equals,” she adds. For example, the release “Beso” by Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro became the cover of Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits playlist.
Managing director, GTS Universal U.S. Latin; manager, Sebastián Yatra
Inspired by her father, respected Argentine record executive Mario Kaminsky, who was “passionate about this business with a unique vision,” Kaminsky spent more than 15 years at Sony Music Latin, where she became vp of marketing. In 2012, she began a new and very different chapter. “Ricardo Arjona called me to set up his independent record label together. He gave me carte blanche to do what I wanted … and get to know the world of live music,” recalls Kaminsky. “That’s when I realized that my next stage would come from the management side.” The results have been brilliant. In 2022, Yatra sold out all 78 dates of his Dharma tour, sang at the Academy Awards and won his first Latin Grammy.
Vp of marketing, Universal Music Latin Entertainment, Fonovisa/Disa
Ledezma has been leading marketing efforts for Fonovisa and Disa’s artists in both the United States and Mexico for more than two decades, and it all started with a rock album. In the early days of her career, Fonovisa hired her to oversee a tribute set for Los Tigres del Norte, featuring artists such as Café Tacvba and Molotov. “It was a total success,” she recalls of the release, which led her to be the band’s label manager. “Twenty years have passed,” she adds, “and this genre is now part of my life. I feel blessed.”
Founder/CEO, Lionfish Entertainment
Before León became a powerful figure in the Latin music industry, the Cuban descendant was inspired by Princess Leia of Star Wars. “Her ability to be in charge, to lead the army, to go into battle alongside men while remaining a woman through it all, was the first reference from a woman that made me say, ‘I want to be like her,’ ” she says. León has managed the careers of Latin superstars Rosalía, Juanes and J Balvin, among others. More recently, the Lionfish founder has dived into the world of film and TV. “This is the biggest risk I’ve taken to date,” León says, “but the one I’m most passionate about and excited about in my entire life.”
CEO, Seven Mantels; manager, Shakira
Behind Shakira’s success in the past decade stands her manager, Jaime Levine, who has executed a strategy of hits and unique global actions that have kept the Colombian star relevant and at the top of the charts, in addition to closing worldwide agreements with brands like Burberry. Now, Shakira is being recognized as Billboard’s Woman of the Year at the Latin Women in Music gala. Her recognition comes after breaking 14 Guinness World Records and the success of her singles “BZRP Sessions, Vol. 53” with Bizarrap and “TQG” with Karol G.
President, Latin America and U.S. Latin, Universal Music Publishing Group
As the only woman to head a major Latin music publishing division, Lioutikoff has been instrumental and visionary in signing new artists who have become huge stars. “Rosalía has reached even more achievements; Feid, whom we signed six years ago and have worked closely with to develop, has achieved enormous fame; Yahritza made herself known,” says the executive, who completed seven years at Universal and before that led ASCAP’s Latino operation. Her great inspirations, she says, are her mother and her husband. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” she says. UMPG won the BMI publisher of the year award for 2022.
Senior vp of communications, artist and industry relations, La Academia Latina de la Grabación
Malavé firmly believes that “communications is an organization’s soul.” In her time with the academy, Malavé has focused on creating spaces for women within the industry “where we can thrive and stand out as leaders,” she says. One of her goals throughout her career has been to expand her professional knowledge beyond the traditional communications role. “I feel that this is appreciated and cultivated at the academy. We will never achieve gender equality unless there are more women in the rooms where these decisions are made, lifting others up along the way.”
“The idea of someone feeling so strongly invested in his or her art, doing whatever it takes to make sure it’s literally ‘heard,’ makes me want to fight harder for them and protect them as their legal representative, knife in hand,” says the entertainment lawyer with 20 years in the business. Martínez has championed some of the biggest names in Latin music including Camilo, Feid, Greeicy, Ozuna and Pitbull. “I recently had the honor and privilege of representing Luis Fonsi in the purchase of his editorial catalog, including ’Despacito,’ ” she adds.
Senior vp of marketing, Sony Music Latin-Iberia
“It is a privilege to be part of an artist’s career, whatever the end result,” says Martínez, who came to Sony in 2022 after 20 years at Warner Music. “A pivotal moment in my career was when I became CEO of Warner Latina,” she recalls. “It gave me a full vision of the business by giving me the opportunity to sign artists, negotiate contracts and manage all the teams.” She is also one of the first women to run a major Latin record label in the United States. “This fills me with pride,” she adds.
Vp of sync, U.S. Latin & Latin America, Warner Chappell Music
From her start in 2004 at BMG Production Music to working 11 years as director of music licensing and creative services at Sony Music Entertainment Latin/Iberia to now at Warner Chappell Music, Nuñez says “the music publishing world was where I had envisioned expanding my music career.” At Sony, she developed the Latin synch business line from ground zero and was key in making business development deals between Latin artists and brands, such as Romeo Santos and Dr Pepper’s two-year partnership. At WCM, she says synch placements have grown over 30% year to year since forming part of the team.
GM, Latin America, Spotify
Before joining Spotify 11 years ago, Nygren lived in Spain for nearly a decade working at Universal Music Group. The Swedish native also lived in Brazil for three years but now calls Miami home. “Collecting experiences has been a personal driver that has nurtured my professional opportunities throughout the years,” she explains. Nygren says she has seen the “streaming revolution” take over Latin America with now more than 100 million users in the region. “It allows Latin music to be heard and seen like never before.”
GM, Mexican music, Warner Music
Recently, Orjuela began a new chapter in her career as GM of Warner Music Latina’s new Mexican music division. The executive, who is also the president of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, has been making great strides over the past year-and-a-half in her new position. “We have signed legends like [Grupo] Pesado, who is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and newcomers like DannyLux, who opened for Coldplay and performed at Coachella this year,” says Orjuela, adding that Los Aptos will also perform at Lollapalooza 2023.
Senior vp of global marketing, WK Entertainment
With more than 20 years of experience — across areas such as public relations, marketing and now artist management — Pablo helped shape the careers of artists in her previous roles at Universal Music Latin Entertainment and Univision. In 2018, she joined the WK Entertainment team, where she has been instrumental in growing the careers of Maluma and CNCO. “My mother taught me to do what needs to be done to get the job done,” Pablo says of her biggest inspiration. “That’s something I still live by to this day.”
Pagani was 18 years old when she began her career in the music industry — mostly compiling the label copy for new releases and assisting in the marketing budget for concerts in Europe. Later landing a job at Sony Music, she was part of the team that strategized the international careers of Shakira and Ricky Martin, among others. Now, at SeitrackUS, she takes pride in having developed the U.S. comeback of Los Angeles Azules and signing Alejandro Sanz, to name a few highlights. “Luckily after quite some years, after holding top positions at a label and reinventing myself in the management area, I don’t do label copies anymore and still go to shows with the same excitement,” she says.
CEO, Roc Nation
At the helm of Roc Nation since 2019, and having spent a decade as its COO, Perez leads the company’s growth in music, management, new business development, touring, philanthropy and film/TV, among other areas. Among the greatest achievements of her career, the executive born in the Bronx to Cuban parents cites “bringing in Rihanna to start our artist management division.” What inspires her most: charitable causes.
Vp of promotion, Sony Music Latin
Puente has been a force behind Sony Music Latin’s dominance on the Billboard radio charts year after year. She is responsible for all of Sony’s Latin music airing on U.S. radio. “Seeing how [my] work directly impacts the history and development of an artist — whether it’s Shakira [breaking numerous] Guinness World Records on the charts or Gale reaching her first top 10 [on Latin Pop Airplay] — prompts me to look continually for different ways to grow their brand,” says Puente, who has been with the company for 18 years. “Latin music is more mainstream than ever; it’s an exciting time to keep breaking barriers and keep making history.”
Regional director, Latin America & Caribbean, IFPI
Restrepo was named IFPI’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean in January after having served as president of Sony Music for the Andean region. The Colombian executive is one of the few women who have headed record labels in Latin America. Before Sony, she helmed the powerful independent Colombian label Codiscos. “I am inspired by spiritual awareness,” she says, “which unites me with transcendence, with my family, with the overwhelming young people who seek to transform the world and with the brave women who have made their way against all odds and who inspire so many others.”
Founder/CEO, Criteria Entertainment
In her 30-year career, Rodriguez worked her way up from radio promoter for indie ToCo Records to senior front-line product manager at Universal Colombia to marketing director for EMI Colombia, to name a few of her experiences. Most notably, in 2009, she became the first woman to be appointed senior vp of EMI’s U.S.-based, Spanish-language division, Capitol Latin, where she revitalized the label with her management style. Twelve years ago, she founded Criteria Entertainment — a full-service company based in Los Angeles, with offices in Colombia and Mexico, and home to the management division Mercado Negro. Rodriguez manages Mon Laferte, Enrique Bunbury, Draco Rosa, Flor de Toloache, Francisca Valenzuela and Diamante Eléctrico, among others.
Shirley Rodríguez Rivera
Co-founder/CEO, Mr & Mrs Entertainment
Rodríguez Rivera helped develop the careers of Romeo Santos and Calle 13 internationally as part of the Producciones Angelo Medina team, and credits Medina as the first person to offer her an opportunity at “a time when opportunities for women and younger people were extremely scarce.” Eight years ago, Rodríguez Rivera and her husband, José “Pompi” Vallejo, launched Mr & Mrs Entertainment, a global live entertainment, marketing and media company in Puerto Rico. She is also one of the founders of Premios Tu Música Urbano.
Vp of synch and new business, Latin America & U.S. Latin, Sony Music Publishing
Roland began her career at Universal Music before coming to Sony Music Publishing 15 years ago. Today, she specializes in negotiating the use of music by composers such as Camilo, Tainy, Luis Fonsi, Maluma and Bomba Estéreo in advertising campaigns, film and TV, and she is proud of her efforts to achieve fair rates for the Latino catalog. No wonder her inspirations are women who overcome obstacles, like her great-grandmother, who left her home in New York to work as a doctor in India, “and artists and executives like Sylvia Rhone and Ivy Queen, who have shattered glass ceilings.”
GM, Industria Works/Nacional Records
Sarkissian recalls her first day on the job: “Tomas [Cookman] put a beautiful photo of Andrea Echeverri from Aterciopelados on my desk, and told me she was an incredible woman and that she doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone.” Seventeen years later, that same photo continues to inspire her: “A woman in Latin rock as a fierce advocate and promoter of women’s rights and voices,” she says. Sarkissian has continued to elevate Latin alternative music from its underground terrain to worldwide acclaim. For example, in LAMC’s first virtual year (2020), the conference gathered 10,000 registrants. Last year, it had over 220,000 unique online visitors, and its in-person edition exceeded previous years’ registrations.
Senior vp of booking, West Coast, Live Nation
Simonitsch has been instrumental in leading Latin powerhouses like Alejandro Fernández, Maná and Marco Antonio Solís to become touring titans. Most recently, Maná had an unprecedented run at the L.A. Forum, where the band played a residency with 12 sold-out shows and 165,000 tickets sold, according to Live Nation. Marco Antonio Solís’ reunion with Los Bukis led to a historical stadium tour that landed at No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Tours of 2021. “I’m proud of promoting artists early in their careers and watching them grow,” says the Los Angeles-based executive, who cites her mother as her biggest inspiration.
CEO, GLAD Empire
Soto graduated from law school, but it was the death of her cousin, artist Get Low, that inspired her to launch GLAD Empire 16 years ago — a resource for artist development, digital content distribution, promotion and marketing but overall “with a focus on helping independent artists with limited opportunities, just like him,” she says. With the experience and guidance of her partner, veteran rapper MC Ceja, GLAD released the smash “Te Boté Remix” (produced by the late Flow La Movie) by Nío García, Casper Mágico, Ozuna, Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam and Darell. In addition to releasing music from artists such as García and Mágico, she is helming the career of Anuel AA.
Executive vp of marketing, branded entertainment, CMN
For more than two decades, Sotomayor has been a fundamental part of CMN, a Latino event promoter linking top brands with top tours and artists. Inspired by Henry Cárdenas (CMN’s founder) and by her mother, who left a career in Colombia to bring her daughters to the United States, she has also devoted herself to giving women and girls opportunities through the Maestro Cares Foundation, which she co-founded with Cárdenas and Marc Anthony. “To keep inspiring women is as important to me as it is to uplift the women who have worked with me,” she says.
Senior vp, Latin Iberia, The Orchard
If there’s something that inspires Tesoriero, it’s change — “change in technologies, change in musical genres, changes in business models. This challenges and fascinates me,” says the executive, who started in the music business in 1991 and joined The Orchard in 2004 as the industry was beginning to shift to digital. “Coming from the physical world, believing that the future was digital made all the difference,” she adds. “At that time, I made a very big effort so that Latin American music crossed the oceans and began to be part of the digital world.”
Founder, Chaf Enterprises
Vega has managed Chayanne for 19 years and worked with him for nearly three decades, keeping one of the most extraordinary careers in Latin music current and relevant. The Colombian executive, known for her negotiating skills, started in management when women were scarce in the field. “But I stayed,” she says. “The most complicated thing is to always say, ‘What are we going to do?’” This year includes a new album, campaigns with big brands and news of a tour. “What Chayanne does, he does with love and passion. He still has that respect for his career despite those years.”
COO, Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula
A testament to Yep’s focus on consolidating Universal’s “360 powerhouse reach” is that the label’s marquee talent — including established superstars and rising stars alike — have experienced major international success. Karol G made history with Mañana Será Bonito, the first all-Spanish-language album by a woman to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. And Feid’s first headlining U.S. run sold out in a matter of minutes. Her biggest inspiration: “My grandfather was a visionary and ahead of his time,” she says. “His boldness while embracing social and personal connectivity still inspires me today.”
Vp of creative, SESAC Latina
Throughout her 22 years in this ever-evolving industry, one thing has remained a constant for Zendejas: her passion to “continue advocating” for Latin music and culture, the Los Angeles-based executive says. Zendejas, who joined SESAC in 2008, has been leading the company’s Latin creative efforts by overseeing the affiliations of superstar songwriters such as Nicky Jam, Eden Muñoz, Luciano Luna and Christian Nodal. Last summer, SESAC Latina signed a worldwide deal with sibling trio Yahritza y Su Esencia, whose debut single, “Soy El Único,” peaked at No.1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart in 2022.
These four innovative executives under 40 are already emerging as industry leaders.
President, SBS Entertainment
As the first woman to head SBS’ live-events division, Alarcón brings a bicultural and bilingual perspective to a Hispanic media powerhouse, and with it, increased profits.
Partner, Greenberg Chopurian-Valencia & Associates
As a partner in her own legal firm, Chopurian stands out for representing next generation artists such as Myke Towers and Ovy on the Drums, as well as veterans such as Arcángel and De La Ghetto.
Strategic partner manager, music label partnerships, Meta
Dorantes develops strategies and alliances in addition to educating artists, managers and labels in the United States and Latin America on the best uses of Meta to advance music and careers.
Artist manager, Prince Royce, WK Entertainment
One of the few women managers in the realm of urban and tropical, she has led Prince Royce’s career for six years and has negotiated alliances with major brands.
The work of these five veterans in other countries directly influences the performance of artists in the United States.
Managing director, Latin America, Ingrooves
After running Ingrooves in Brazil, Falcão now oversees Ingrooves throughout Latin America, signing artists from various genres, countries and levels of prominence to diverse types of contracts.
Based in Spain, the independent label Altafonte has expanded its operations in Latin America, earning 26 Latin Grammy nominations last year.
Co-founder, Queen Street Talent
From Colombia, Ramírez leads marketing campaigns for artists throughout the region, including Andrés Cepeda and Juliana Velásquez, winner of the Latin Grammy for best new artist in 2021.
Director/head of music, Latin America, YouTube
Based in Brazil, Jimenez oversees YouTube’s music operation for Latin America.
Lagarrigue founded RLM in Spain in 1984 as the only woman with a management company for Spanish-speaking artists. Today her clients include Raphael, Rozalén and Vanessa Martín.
Billboard’s first Latin Women in Music list features 40 U.S.-based executives who have over 20 years of experience in the music business. It also includes four rising executives under age 40 and five international executives whose work has impact on the U.S. music industry.
This story is part of Billboard‘s Mujeres Latinas en la Música package. Tickets to Billboard‘s Latin Women In Music can be purchased here.