Nicki Nicole Headlines First Billboard Spanish-Language Music Forum in Madrid

Managers, record label executives and artists — including icon Raphael, Luis Cobos, La Mala Rodríguez, Paula Cendejas, Yotuel and Maikel Delacalle — participated in a series of conversations and panels as part of the first Forum on Spanish Language Music in Madrid presented by the Community of Madrid and powered by Billboard.

The one day, invite-only event — attended by some 500 artists, managers and industry execs — sought to highlight the growing consumption of music in Spanish across continents, and featured four panel conversations, as well as a Q&A and performance by Argentine superstar Nicki Nicole.

The singer, who made history as the first urban female artist to both enter and top Billboard Argentina’s Hot 100 chart, just finished a round of nine sold-out arena dates in her native Buenos Aires, and will perform her first sold out 15,000-seat WiZink Center in Madrid on March 21. She is also this month’s Billboard Español cover star.


Nicki Nicole’s status as an artist who rose to popularity in her native Argentina but is now selling out arenas worldwide highlighted the forum’s focus on the new generation of cross-continent, cross-genre, cross-focus Latin acts who are now dominating the charts and the fact that Madrid is an epicenter of that fluidity.

Raphael at the first Forum on Spanish Language Music in Madrid, presented by the Community of Madrid and powered by Billboard.

“Spain fully embraces its role as part of a new Latin music movement,” said Jorge “Pepo” Ferradas, who manages Colombian artist Camilo and Spanish artist Rels B, both of whom have had success on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Ferradas was part of an opening powerhouse panel that also featured Walter Kolm, founder of WK Entertainment and manager of Maluma and Carlos Vives, among others; Fede Lauria, founder of Dale Play Records and manager of Bizarrap and Nicki Nicole; Alex Gallardo, president of Sony Music U.S. Latin; and Rosa Lagarrigue, founder of RLM Entertainment and manager of Rozalen and Raphael.

It was followed by a one-on-one conversation with Spanish icon Raphael, who at 80 years old said he had no plans to retire. “I don’t see myself in the role of not doing anything,” he deadpanned.

Then, artists La Mala Rodríguez, Yotuel, Maikel Delacalle and Paula Cendejas sat down for an animated discussion on the current state of music, followed by an interview with venerable conductor Luis Cobos, president of the newly minted Spanish Academy of Music, which is slated to host its first ever award show later this Spring.

The day’s grand finale was a surprisingly candid and intimate conversation with Billboard Español cover star Nicki Nicole, who opened up about how she catalyzes her personal experiences in music and also revealed she will soon release a new single with another Spanish icon, Alejandro Sanz.

Nicki Nicole
Nicki Nicole at the first Forum on Spanish Language Music in Madrid, presented by the Community of Madrid and powered by Billboard.

Nicki also performed a set of six songs in a new semi-acoustic, lo-fi  format with the singer backed by a keyboard, drums and guitar, highlighting vocals that have become sultrier and broader ranging.

The forum opened on Tuesday afternoon with a welcome from Billboard’s chief content officer for Latin/Español Leila Cobo, and Mariano de Paco Serrano, Madrid’s minister of culture, tourism and sports, who underscored the importance of music to the city and its role in “fostering talent and the industry.”

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