Executive of the Week: CMN CEO Henry Cárdenas

Executive of the Week: CMN CEO Henry Cárdenas

Executive of the Week: CMN CEO Henry Cárdenas
June 22, 2021 | NEWS

Henry Cardenas

“I’m a guy that knows the Hispanic market, and I’m a street promoter. I’m not Live Nation or AEG. I gotta do what I gotta do.”

With 480,000 tickets sold in a single day and a gross of $84 million, the April 15 presale day for Bad Bunny’s 2022 tour, El Último Tour del Mundo, sold out in record time and now ranks as the top-selling tour on Ticketmaster on a first day since Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run II Tour went on sale in 2018.

The feat is even more admirable considering Bad Bunny is signed to an indie label, Rimas, and the tour promoter is Latin independent CMN. But CMN founder and CEO Henry Cárdenas had an edge: He’s been promoting Bad Bunny’s shows since the Puerto Rican star first started playing clubs for less than 1,000 people back in 2017 — and now, he’s earned the title of Billboard‘s Executive of the Week.

CMN also promoted Bunny’s 2018 and 2019 tours, which respectively grossed $21.2 million and $45.5 million and sold 273,000 and 477,000 tickets, according to Billboard Boxscore. But selling 480,000 tickets in a day was another thing entirely, admits Cárdenas.

“Never, no one expected that,” Cárdenas tells Billboard. “In fact, Noah [Assad, Bad Bunny’s manager] called me like three days before and said, ‘How many tickets do you think we’ll sell [in presale]?’ He thought it’d be around 150,000. I told him 200,000…. If Bad Bunny puts 50 dates more on sale today, he’ll sell them. In Miami, we sold out his three shows and there were 97,000 people waiting online to buy tickets.”

Bad Bunny is arguably the hottest artist in the world right now, and ended 2020 as the most streamed act on Spotify. That he would sell was not in question. But, how did the Chicago-based CMN capitalize on the potential, and how did Cárdenas land the deal? Here, he explains what went into booking this tour when live music still seems so far away for so many.

I have to think every promoter in the world wanted the Bad Bunny tour. Why did he go with CMN?

I had to take a more aggressive position than my competition. There were two big factors. One is the financials, of course — we had a better offer. But the second factor is Bunny’s team knew CMN. We’ve been working with Bad Bunny from when he was playing clubs to the giant he’s become today. Noah has said, “I feel comfortable with Henry.” He knows our accountant, the people who run his tour. He feels part of the family.

That sounds very straightforward, but my understanding is competition was fierce. How did you get this done?

We had been speaking since we finished the last tour in 2019. Then the pandemic hit [and things got put on hold]. But — let me look at my calendar — on Feb. 18, we began final negotiations. I asked Noah to remember our trajectory together and to give me an opportunity. We began talking and he told me he wanted A, B and C. I said, “I can give you A, B, C and D.”

Did you think about it twice?

No. Because I knew he was the hottest thing. I said, “I gotta go for this. I gotta do whatever I gotta do.” And thank God Noah and Benito gave me the opportunity. I told him, “Noah, this is your family.” We speak the same language, we know the same people. And another big factor is, I’m a guy that knows the Hispanic market, and I’m a street promoter. I’m not Live Nation or AEG. I gotta do what I gotta do and I know my market.

But Bad Bunny is not just a Latin artist anymore.

He has huge entry into the English-speaking market, but to me he’s Latino. The majority of the tickets were purchased by Latin fans. Remember, these tickets are bought with credit cards and we know who the buyers are.

Speaking of credit cards, one of the big revenue drivers for this tour were the Platinum tickets, which optimize prices to meet demand in real time. The Platinum tickets you set for Bad Bunny’s tour have been selling for very high prices. I understand part of the success here is that the [you] and the artist made a lot of inventory available on Platinum. What can you tell us?

The more people go into the system, the more demand rises, and the more demand rises, the more prices rise. In Bad Bunny’s case, he made more than $12 million in additional revenue from the lift that Platinum provided. There was one concert where we projected he would get $40,000 additional from the Platinum lift. He got $300,000.

Bad Bunny posted a very impactful video on Instagram — over 7 million views — announcing the tour, but he didn’t post much more ahead of the sale date. How did you promote these shows?

On Thursday, we opened up the pre-sale only for people who had a passcode. The two codes were Sanbenito and CMNFans. By Thursday, I guess 480,000 people knew the passcode. We promoted heavily on social media. We didn’t do any radio or television. It was only social media, and that promo is critical because it’s very targeted.

How did you determine the routing?

We did it based mostly on Bad Bunny’s historical data. He’s opened markets I had never gone to in previous tours, like Portland, Oregon. But the other notable aspect of the routing are the days. For example, we’re playing Portland, a secondary market, on a Monday, and Denver, another secondary market, on a Wednesday. In my 42 years in the business, the only other time I’ve scheduled a Monday concert was with Bad Bunny at the Staples Center on his last tour. Latins typically don’t go out on Mondays. But this is such a big, expensive production, we had to do it, because we have to play a minimum of four shows per week.

Some of these are markets where he had played for 2,000 or 3,000 people before, and now we’re returning in an arena because he has that sales potential. That’s why you see such an extensive routing.

OUR NETWORK

Sech Signs Multi-Year Deal With CMN Ahead of U.S. Tour: See Dates

Sech Signs Multi-Year Deal With CMN Ahead of U.S. Tour: See Dates

Sech Signs Multi-Year Deal With CMN Ahead of U.S. Tour: See Dates

Henry Cardenas’ CMN Entertainment has secured a multi-year worldwide booking deal with Panamanian reggaeton artist Sech. The event and concert promotion firm will serve as the exclusive booking company for the singer, who will embark on a tour of the U.S. in 2020.

Sech’s partnership with CMN was first reported in the current issue of Billboard.

Nominated for three Latin Grammy Awards, Sech’s Sueños Tour kicks of its first let on Feb. 28, before heading to Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, Chicago and New York. Pre-sale begins Oct. 24th with tickets going on sale a day later.

“We know Sech will be the next leader in the urban genre not only in Latin America but in Europe as well,” said Cardenas, CEO and founder of CMN.

Sech photographed on Oct. 2, 2019 in Miami.

Sech is managed by Rich Mendez and his son Josh Mendez for Rich Music.

“Sech continues to make huge strides and building a strong team is key.,” commented the senior Mendez. “So we at Rich Music are excited to team up with Henry and the whole CMN family.”

Tour dates below:

Feb. 28:  Dallas
Feb. 29:  Houston
March 1: Los Angeles
March 6: Orlando
March 7:  Miami
March 12: Chicago
March 14: New York

 

Source: Billboard

 

 

Billboard’s 2019 Latin Power Players

Billboard’s 2019 Latin Power Players

Billboard’s 2019 Latin Power Players

Veteran promoter Henry Cárdenas, whose clients include stars like Marc Anthony, leads Billboard’s annual roster of influencers in a genre whose artists are storming the pop charts and shaping musical tastes around the globe.

 

Henry Cárdenas​
Founder/CEO, Cárdenas Marketing Network

As founder/CEO of Cárdenas Marketing Network (CMN), Henry Cárdenas has long been the top independent Latin music promoter in the United States, the man behind a bevy of successful arena tours by megawatt stars like Marc Anthony, Chayanne, Daddy Yankee and, most recently, Maluma, Sech  and Bad Bunny.

But lately, Cárdenas, 63, has felt others rattling his cage. “We were fat and happy,” he says. “Then, everywhere I looked, there was Live Nation breathing down my neck. And that motivated me to get up and see what was happening.”

What was happening was a flow of talent beyond the big superstars CMN had long promoted. So Cárdenas got to work, looking for emerging talent — and scooping it up before anyone else did.

Cárdenas opened a booking arm at CMN that he says has grown more than 200% in the past year and now includes 12 acts (with such younger artists as Sech, Manuel Turizo and Becky G among them), as well as stars like Anthony. It is the fastest-growing sector in a company that also pushed beyond music for opportunities in sports events and experiential marketing. The diversification allows Cárdenas to have a footprint in many areas, straddling multiple genres — from regional Mexican to pop — with artists big and small in a way he didn’t before.

Between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, CMN grossed $102.5 million and sold 1,046,652 tickets across 161 shows, according to data the company has reported to Billboard Boxscore. That places CMN at No. 9 on Boxscore’s list of top promoters for that period.

bb24 2019 

Mary Beth Koeth
Marc Anthony and Henry Cárdenas photographed on Sept. 9, 2019 at Magnus Media in Miami.

In addition to the concerts tracked by Boxscore, Cárdenas says, he produced over 300 events in 2018, his biggest year ever, selling 2 million-plus tickets. Those events include Bad Bunny’s and Maluma’s arena tours, as well as those of longtime client Anthony. Last year, Anthony signed a $160 million multiyear, international touring deal with CMN (in conjunction with management company Magnus Media), perhaps the most lucrative touring deal ever for a Latin artist.

A typical weekend for Cárdenas in September included regional Mexican giants Banda MS performing at New York’s Madison Square Garden and Maluma playing Los Angeles’ Forum, as well as concerts by tropical star Silvestre Dangond in Montréal; Nicky Jam in McAllen, Texas; and Turizo in Mexico.

As for Cárdenas, he was in his hometown of Cali, Colombia, where he produced a stadium show by Mexican diva Ana Gabriel and, the next day, he attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a new facility at Casita de Belén, an organization for at-risk children and families in one of Cali’s poorest areas. The facility was financed by Maestro Cares, the foundation Cárdenas created in 2012 with Anthony that to date has financed 16 facilities in Latin America and one in the United States.

“I never knew what a foundation was, what philanthropy was,” says Cárdenas. “When you’re young, all you want to do is get ahead and receive. But I’m at a stage where I know I have to give back.”

Maestro Cares raises money through an annual gala (this year, that event brought in $1.8 million) and through all CMN shows, which donate $1.50-$2 per ticket to the foundation. But increasingly, “my mission is to involve others, especially artists,” says Cárdenas, who also works closely in his foundation projects with his concert promotion partners in different countries. For example, he has partnered with UNICEF and Bad Bunny’s foundation, Good Bunny, to rebuild baseball fields in Puerto Rico that Hurricane Maria destroyed.

“Before, the only artist who contributed was Marc Anthony,” says Cárdenas. “And I thought, ‘I have all these contacts. Why don’t I motivate them?’ Many people want to help, but they just don’t know how.”

While Maestro Cares is mostly focused on improving conditions for children in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cárdenas’ biggest concern at the moment is the immigration crisis in the United States, where he has lived since he left Siloé, one of Cali’s most notorious slums, to come live with an uncle in Chicago when he was only 16 years old.

“From conversations of building a wall to the separation of families — these are critical issues influencing the music industry,” he says, noting that concert attendance has been affected as regional Mexican audiences shy away from gatherings that immigration officials could target.

“The political language of discrimination and fear, along with negative news coverage, is creating an environment of uncertainty,” he says. “Naturally, the Latin community is apprehensive. [But] I have high hopes this will change. Music is an art form that helps bring us all together. It encourages unity and inspires harmony in our communities.”

— LEILA COBO

Source: Billboard