Latin superstar Chayanne is a chart machine. The Puerto Rican heartthrob boasts a multi-decade streak of 15 albums that have reached the top 10 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums chart since his self-titled debut in 1989. Only one other Latin act (Rocío Dúrcal) has matched that feat.
But Chayanne’s last album was 2014’s En todo estaré, released nine years ago, while his last tour stopped short in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And although he’d had plenty of singles chart activity since then, his last No. 1 was 2007’s “Si nos quedara poco tiempo,” which topped the Hot Latin Songs chart.
Certainly, expectations and pressure were high for Chayanne to deliver, and he’s done just that. His new album, Bailemos, out on his longtime label, Sony Music, opened at No. 3 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums chart, while his current single, “Bailando Bachata,” notched its 13th week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Tropical Airplay chart, marking his longest-running single to date on any chart. One of the most successful Latin touring acts in the market, Chayanne is also readying what will be his next mammoth, multi-year tour, which kicks off next year and will include arenas and stadiums in the United States, Latin America and Spain.
Despite the long gap between studio albums, at the core of Chayanne’s success is consistency: He’s a self-described “label artist” who has been signed to Sony since his 1989 debut. He could also be described as a one-manager artist. Patty Vega, director of Chayanne’s Chaf Enterprises, has managed him for the past 27 years with a steely, steady hand. The Colombian-born Vega, known for her no-nonsense, get-it-done style and her ability to position her client in every country in the world, is one of the very few female managers in Latin music, albeit one who prefers to stay behind the scenes. This week, given Chayanne’s success, she earns the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week — and explains why her legacy artist remains in his prime.
It’s been nine years since Chayanne’s last studio album. What did it mean to you as a manager to wait nearly a decade for your artist to release an album?
It was a struggle because the years kept going by. But Chayanne was waiting for his moment, and in between, he did two tours — and remember, each Chayanne tour takes roughly two and a half years to complete. Then we had the pandemic, and that’s when we started to talk about an album. So it’s not like we weren’t on it. Afterward, Sony’s songwriting camp system was magnificent and it’s something Chayanne hadn’t done before. They brought together songwriters, producers and the artist, who in this case had input on everything and was able to pinpoint what he wanted and contribute to the songs. And we see the results: 13 weeks at No. 1 and No. 3 in sales. The experience of making this album was totally different from before.
Before they would send us songs, the songwriter would chat with Chayanne, Chayanne would give his input, they’d record a demo, but it’s very different from actually being in the studio and working the songs there. This time, we had three studios going on, and in the space of one week, we had 16 songs, which we whittled down to nine.
Chayanne became a superstar at a time when albums were sold, radio and TV were all-important and there were few Latin global stars. How do you explain to an artist like that that the world of music and promotion is very different now?
We had very long, involved conversations, and above everything, we have a very good relationship. We have our big differences in terms of the proposals that we consider. But he is always open to analyze something. Sometimes he’ll get up and say no, but a seed is planted. This was a long process. For example, he was very reticent with social media. He said he didn’t have the time and he didn’t want to do things his fans might not like or want. Convincing him to really work on his social media was intense. But today, he understands it perfectly, and everything he does resonates, which says a lot about his fans and how faithful they are to him. Those millions of followers he has, he’s gained every one of them organically. For example, “La Bachata” — you go on Instagram and there’s thousands of posts of people dancing to it.
That’s Chayanne. How did you change?
Well, I had to learn. You have a formula that’s given you a great response for decades. And suddenly, it’s not the same. So you have to adapt. That’s why convincing Chayanne to open up to other things was so major. He’s remained relevant because, first and foremost, people love him. That’s not something you can buy; that’s genuine and that’s something we’ve built through the years. But also, beyond music, for example, we do a lot of campaigns.
What do you mean by campaigns?
We have many commercial campaigns with brands, and that keeps his image relevant in many countries. Lala in Mexico, for example, is a very well-known milk brand and every year we do a national campaign that includes traditional media like television and banners, and digital. [Department store] Falabella has done a Christmas campaign with Chayanne in Chile, Colombia and Peru for five consecutive years. Chayanne’s image is very present.
While you’re doing a lot with digital and social media, radio has been very central to the promotion of this album. Is it a struggle with the label to attack both avenues of promotion?
Not at all. It may seem old school but it’s essential for us. And Chayanne has spent his entire life with Sony, and this marketing team is the best. We meet constantly, and they understand perfectly that although he now has a younger audience — because the age range of his fans is younger now — he also has a fan base that doesn’t understand social media as well, and still listens to radio and still wants to buy the CD and the poster. Radio is still very important, and radio has embraced Chayanne in every country. Television is also important and continues to sell for us. We have to consider all those elements: the mothers, the aunts, the grandmothers, the daughters. It’s many generations. But, I felt supported one thousand percent [by the label]. I thank my team every day… They’re all on team Chayanne.
What has been the biggest challenge with this album?
The same one as ever: To get people to love it. Having him do something great and being able to say, “We did it.” It’s very hard [to stand out] in such a competitive industry where there are so many young artists making hits, and where artists from other generations aren’t as visible. You have to really strive to do something better than the last album. Make a better tour than the last tour. At the end of the day, word of mouth is what gets people to your shows. But in the end, all the pieces fell into place. This album had to come out now, and Chayanne had to be ready.
I know you’re touring next year. What can you tell me?
It’s throughout all of Iber-America: from Spain to Argentina, going through every single country in Central and South America. For the U.S. I already have a proposal for 40 arena dates. Our last tour was 100 dates, and we had to cut the last five months due to the pandemic. As Alejandro Soberón [CEO of OCESA] once said, with Chayanne, you have to sell subscriptions because female fans go see him again and again when he plays. [He] can play a Movistar arena now, and come back months later and do it again. We repeat in a lot of markets.
You’ve worked with Chayanne for 33 years, 27 of them as his manager. That’s very unusual, especially now, when artists change managers at a very fast clip. To what do you attribute the longevity?
I think honesty. And loyalty. The most important thing for me is to look someone in the eyes and know that I’m telling them the truth and they can trust me. That’s the way it’s always been. We’ve disagreed, of course; we have our tempers. But we’ve worked with respect: He respects my work and I respect his.
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