Music

AEG and CMN Join Forces to Create Latin Touring Powerhouse: ‘Timing Is Everything’

AEG Presents, the second biggest live events company in the world, and powerful Latin entertainment company Cárdenas Marketing Network (CMN), have partnered in a deal that will combine both companies under one roof. The partnership, in which AEG acquired an undisclosed stake in CMN and which AEG Presents chairman and CEO Jay Marciano describes as a “full partnership,” will explosively boost AEG’s Latin music business and is AEG’s first Latin partnership of this scope.

CMN ended 2023 at No. 4 on Billboard’s Top Promoter chart, and in 2022, it was No. 3, an enormous achievement for an independent company that CMN founder and CEO Henry Cárdenas self-describes as a “boutique concert promoter.” But it’s a very powerful boutique operation, with a slate that included Bad Bunny’s stadium tour in 2022 and currently Luis Miguel, Marc Anthony and Don Omar, among many other.

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On its end, AEG is of course the powerhouse company behind Taylor Swift’s global tour and culturally-defining events like Coachella. Latin, however, was not its strong suit, although it promoted Karol G’s arena tour in in 2023. Now, AEG will have the Latin clout while CMN while have the global reach, and both companies will work together to create elevated and expanded experiences for artists and fans, with each benefitting from the complementary strategic alliance.

“We are excited to partner with AEG Presents, one of the most powerful global forces in live entertainment. Together we look forward to making an even greater impact on the explosive growth in the Latin market,” said Cárdenas in a statement.

In an exclusive interview with Billboard, Cárdenas added: “We wanted to be bigger and more global. AEG is a giant company that also has venues and I’ve known Jay Marciano for 40 years, since he was president of Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden. Jay knows who I am, and I know who he is.”

Marciano added: “Henry is a true entrepreneur and visionary, and what he and his team have built is simply awe-inspiring. We have been looking to expand our presence in Latin music and concerts for quite some time, and it was important that we took the time to find the right partner; we found it in Henry and CMN.”

The partnership between AEG and CMN has been actively in the works for approximately six months, but it was in both Cárdenas’ and Marcianos’ minds long before then.

“I feel like I’ve been chasing Henry for 40 years,” laughs Marciano. “It’s like the girl I’ve been chasing forever, and she finally said yes […] Henry was in Latin music way before any of us figured out it was an industry. Timing is everything. And I think the timing for us and for him finally, after all these years, aligned perfectly.”

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Cárdenas has been in Latin music promotion for 44 years. In 2001, he sold CFA (Cardenas, Fernandez & Associates) — which at one point was the biggest Hispanic-owned event-promotion company in the U.S. — to Clear Channel Entertainment and Grupo Televisa. In 2004, he launched CMN on his own and quickly grew it all over again, eventually becoming the top Latin promoter in the country. In all his years of operation, he says, he has never lost money, save for during the pandemic.

“I’m a boutique concert promoter. I take care of my business. My tours have to be profitable, and we take care of each tour,” he says, emphasizing that his is not a cookie cutter approach to concert promotion.

However, Cárdenas also wanted to grow and become more global and in 2019, he acquired Arena Bogotá in Colombia. At this point, merging made sense, especially with a company like AEG, which has assets and artists that Cárdenas can work with in Latin America, and likewise, offers Cárdenas’ artists an entree into other markets.

The key, however, was the relationship with Marciano.  

“It’s about people in this business,” says Marciano. “If you don’t have the right people, chances are you won’t be successful. With Henry we knew he had the foundation for decades and he could teach us a lot that we were missing.”

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Cárdenas and Marciano had initial conversations several years back, at which time Marciano said: “Henry, I’m not going to hound you. But come the day you feel we’re better together than apart, give me a call.”

Last year he did, and conversations began in earnest.

“I think Henry believes Latin music is not just becoming big in North America but has the potential to become big in Europe and Asia and Australia and he can use our expertise and local offices,” said Marciano. “And we can also use his help because he understands the part of Latin music we’re just getting familiar with.”

Cárdenas will now take over AEG’s Latin activity and touring roster, which includes Carin León. In the spirit of AEG’s existing partnerships, such as the Messina Group or Golden Voice, Cárdenas will run the business, and make decisions on which artists and tours to bring to the business.   

“I told Jay, ‘This needs to be fun. If it’s not going to be fun, it’s not interesting.’ I want to run CMN like I’ve always done,” says Cárdenas.

The AEG-CMN merger follows the 2021 acquisition of Mexican concert promoter OCESA Entertenimiento by Live Nation for $416 million for a 51% interest in the company.

No amount or stake percentage was disclosed for AEG’s purchase of CMN. But, says Marciano, “I think I have the Latin partner That I always wanted.”

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