Manuel Abud (CEO of the Latin Grammy): “The Latin Grammy is not an award for popularity”

There’s nothing left to celebrate the 23rd Edition of the Latin Grammys. Next November 17, the city of Las Vegas will welcome the most important artists of the moment at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a three-hour gala. Presented by Anitta, Laura Pausini, Luis Fonsi and Thalía, it promises to be quite a show.

Less than three weeks before the ceremony, LOS40 had the opportunity to chat with Manuel Abud, CEO of the Latin Recording Academy since August 2021. Manuel, before assuming this position, was Executive Director of Operations from the academy. In addition, he has extensive experience in the world of entertainment. He has been CEO of Azteca América television.

Question (Q): The Latin Grammy Awards are just around the corner, a lot of pressure?

Manuel: Yes, but very happy. This year looks wonderful because we return to full. Last year we already had the opportunity to return in person, but we reduced the number of events. You know that the week of the Latin Grammys is seven events during all those days.

Q: Why is it always held in Las Vegas?

Manuel: The truth is that Las Vegas is not home. The possibility of the gala traveling to different countries in the region has been evaluated. But with Las Vegas we’ve gotten used to doing it there. It is very practical. Everyone likes it and at a production level it is very easy because it has the Arenas.

Q: This year, what surprises will the Latin Grammys bring at the show level?

Manuel: This year there are going to be many surprises. The people who are going to see it on television are going to be very aware of the situation we are experiencing. There will be very emotional moments where the commitment that the academy has with the new generations of artists will be portrayed.

Q: So that the gala is as entertaining as possible for the public, what is going to be done?

Manuel: The Latin Grammys are very important awards for musicians. They are more important to them than to the public itself. It is not an award for popularity, nor with a public vote, but is chosen by members of the academy. Believe it or not, the number of awards given at the gala is very small. We have 53 categories and at the gala we only deliver nine or ten.

The Latin Grammy is not an award for popularity

Q: In times where popularity is measured by numbers through streaming platforms, do academics have more pressure when it comes to voting? Is it taken into account?

Manuel: I think it’s undeniable. It flows into the voter, but remember that everyone who votes is a music professional. They make an effort not to be influenced by what is happening. I would like, as a brand strategy, I would like there to be more overlap, but the magic here is that there doesn’t have to be. The members vote for what they think is musical excellence. It doesn’t have to be tied to popularity or commercial success. Always under the lens of a music professional. You don’t have to take into account the marketing part.

Q: There is a question that is repeated every year on social networks, what does the Latin of Latin Grammys refer to, to languages ​​or to the Latin American area?

Manuel: We can be talking all afternoon about this, if it should be Latin music one or the other. The easiest thing is to look at the commercialism of the academy. It is simply to decide which music is rewarded and which is not. For the Latin Recording Academy, the music that enters is in Spanish, Portuguese and native languages ​​of the region we cover, which is Latin America, Spain and Portugal. So we can discuss whether the French and Italian should have been in or whether Spain and Portugal should be out, but that’s not the point.

Q: At some point was it considered that other languages ​​would enter?

Manuel: Not in my time, but I do have to say that the philosophy of the academy is inclusive and not exclusive. We try to cover as much as possible, but you have to keep the space. It is seen in the collaborations that artists have with Anglo singers. It is respected that 51% of the content is in Spanish, Portuguese or a language of these regions.

The philosophy of the academy is inclusive and not exclusive

Q: And how is that measured, by letter or by time?

Manuel: In the songs it is measured by letter. For your percentage.

Q: When the Latin Grammys began, music in Spanish or Portuguese did not enter the global charts. Today they succeed on the platforms and coexist with Anglo music. Does the separation of Latin Grammy and Grammy still make sense then?

Manuel: That is a complete discussion part. Because in addition to the Grammy there are also Latin categories. Let’s separate. They are two academies that are sisters, but with different members. The Recording Academy’s goal in creating the Latin Recording Academy was to give Latin music full space. They understand that there are many genres that encompass this music: reggaeton, flamenco, tango, pop rock, satanelo… So that it can be a complete mosaic and not fit it into two categories, this Academy was created. Of course music is a living organism and you have to adapt.

Music is a living organism and you have to adapt

Q: Latin music has experienced a huge boom in recent years, do you think it has reached its peak of popularity or can it continue to grow?

Manuel: Let’s hope it continues to grow. I think that cannot be measured. The wonderful thing that we are seeing now is that the main artists worldwide are singing in Spanish. It is something that did not happen before. Before they had to sing in English to make a crossover. Now they succeed in Spanish and they are not interested in singing in English. Now the Anglos are the ones who join the Spanish.

Q: Taking advantage of the fact that you are in Spain, how do you see the scene in our country at the moment?

Manuel: Here I have to be very careful. I see the Spanish scene very well, but as I see the Mexican, the Colombian, the Argentine… everyone’s. (laughs) We are having a wonderful time.

The Latin Grammys are held on November 17. In Spain they can be seen in the early hours of Thursday 17 to 18 November.

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Manuel Abud (CEO of the Latin Grammy): “The Latin Grammy is not an award for popularity”