Posted: August 10, 2007
by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen
During the day, Camilo Lara is the managing director for EMI Music Mexico; at night and on the weekend, Camilo is a songwriter, keyboardist and remixer with the one-man Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS), which he formed in 2001.
Since 2005, Camilo has been responsible for the strategic and operational management of EMI Music’s business in Mexico. Prior to assuming the managing director role, Lara was general manager from 2003-2005.
"EMI Mexico has a big roster including Robbie Williams, Thalia, Aleks Syntek, The Beatles, and Coldplay, among many others,'' says Camilo. "One of my main objectives at EMI is to continue the success of the priority artists on the roster in addition to signing new acts as well as to grow EMI in terms of marketshare.
"On the marketing side my objective is to walk that fine line between running an efficient team, being responsible to the company bottom-line, while maintaining an artist friendly environment and creative spirit," he adds. "Likewise, my position involves creative marketing, commercial sponsorships, creating branded cross-promotions, budget management, artistic career planning and keeping an eye on the big picture for both the artists and the label as well as to keep forecast sales in shape and achieve all financial goals."
From 2002-2003 Camilo was the head of A&R and Marketing for Warner Music Mexico. "Warner Mexico had a superstar roster including Mana, La Ley, El Tri, Benny, Yahir, Armando Manzanero and Francisco Cespedes," he reflects. "One of my main objectives at Warner was to continue the success of the priority artists on the roster in addition to signing new acts. Warner had not signed any new significant artists in three years so I'd been asked to find fresh talent for development as part of my duties. On the marketing side my objective was to walk that fine line between running an efficient team, being responsible to the company bottom-line, while maintaining an artist friendly environment and creative spirit. Likewise, my position involved creative marketing, commercial sponsorships, creating branded cross-promotions, budget management, artistic career planning and keeping an eye on the big picture for both the artists and the label."
Camilo was the founder and general manager of the independent label Suave from 2001-2002. "Suave was born as the very first independently owned and financed boutique label in Mexico, founded by myself, famed film director Alfonso Cuaron -- Harry Potter 3, Great Expectations, Y Tu Mama Tambien -- and Jose Enrique Fernandez," he notes. "Suave’s biggest seller was the OST Y Tu Mama Tambien, nominated for a Grammy in the Best Original Soundtrack category in 2002, In Mexico it sold over 65,000 units making it the biggest independent seller in Mexican history; worldwide it sold more than 160,000 units. Other critically and internationally acclaimed releases on Suave include Volovan & Joselo--from Café Tacuba.
From 1999-2001 Camilo was general manager of Virgin Records Mexico, and put in charge of running and launching Virgin Records in Mexico, creating a growing alternative roster with its own marketing team separate from EMI.
"I was able to draw from various international talent pools as well as building local releases," he explains. "I managed a team of 13 people including promotion, marketing and press. Several successful acts came out of this venture such as Aleks Syntek, who sold more than 250,000 units. The Jive catalogue experienced enormous sales growth of more than 1 million units in the year 2000 alone, and Lenny Kravitz finally broke into the charts garnering platinum--150,000 units--sales."
From 1996-1999, Camilo was label manager local product EMI Music Mexico, managing all aspects of artist development and marketing for the rapidly growing regional rock roster. During that period, several artists, including Ely Guerra and Azul Violeta, released their debut albums. Their careers were successfully developed despite a lack of radio support through grassroots street marketing, touring and alternative promotion.
And from 1997-1999, Camilo was A&R manager EMI Music Mexcio where he oversaw and nurtured all aspects of the artists careers whom he worked with. In addition to working several acts already on the label, he was given the unique opportunity to create the boutique label Tómbola!, an Imprint he designed especially for emerging talent. Plastilina Mosh was the first band he signed and released through Tombola, selling more than 150,000 units (platinum + GOLD ) and released in more than 12 territories. History was made when Plastilina became the first Mexican band ever to be released through a non-Latin division in the US via Capitol Records. El Gran Silencio was the second signing who sold more than 200,000 units (platinum + 2 ) in Mexico. Titan, another Tómbola! act, were released through all Virgin companies worldwide touring the US and Europe.
Camilo began his record company career at age 17 at EMI Music Mexico, initially as an international repertoire promoter from 1994-1995. There he managed all aspects of radio promotion for rock projects and all EMI and EMI Affiliates international releases. He then became label manager of Parlophone EMI Music Mexico from 1995-1996. "I developed and championed international acts for the Mexican marketplace including Radiohead, Blur and Babylon Zoo," Camilo states. "History was made when Radiohead became the first British band ever to tour Mexico earning them a gold selling album for their debut release Pablo Honey. Blur received their first #1 crossover hit with “Girls and Boys.”
In addition to his label activities, Camilo has a background in broadcast and print journalism, working in radio as a producer at American Top 40 WFM 96.9 (1992-1993) and Radioactivo 98.5 FM (1993 - 1994) as well as DJ and producer at Orbita 105.7 FM night show (1996-1997). In television, he was producer/interviewer at EL PLANETA Channel 5, (1993-1994), as well as a columnist at El Economista (newspaper--1994-1995.); Reforma (newspaper--1994 -1995): La Jornada (newspaper--1996-2000); Circulo Mix Up (magazine--1994 -1997); Eres (magazine--1995); La Mosca (magazine--1999-2000); and Switch (magazine--1997-1999).
In 2002 Camilo received a Grammy Nomination for Best Original Soundtrack for the Production of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” OST released on Suave. His music has been used in advertising for Pizza Hut AD, UK; Priceless Shoes, Puerto Rico; FIFA 2007; SOL Beer, Mexico; and Corneto Icecream, Mexico.
Camilo has performed nationally and internationally. In 2006, he played at the Central Park SummerStage in New York with Calle 13 and Ceratti; California Plaza with Nortec; Moca Museum, San Francisco; Vive Latino Festival; Salon 21, Mexico DF; Manifest, Mexico DF; Plaza De Toros, Mexico EXA Festival; Fete du Musique, France; Casa Encendida, Madrid; La Paloma, Madrid; Rótterdam Film Festival, Holland; and Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep Premiere.
In 2007, MIS played at House of Blues in Chicago, Anaheim, San Diego and Mexico City.
Camilo's Mexican Institute of Sound album Mejico was released in 2005 through Nacional Records in the U.S., Noiselab in Mexico, Lovemonk in Spain and rest of Europe. MIS's 2007 Pinata wasreleased through Nacional Records in the U.S., Noiselab in Mexico, Lovemonk in Spain and Cooking Vinyl in the rest of Europe.
Experience & Advice
I've no regrets, but there was probably one. I did a concert as a promoter with three local bands in Mexico; it was a sold out one week prior the show. I spent all my money on putting the show together and was only 15 years old. One day before the show, they shot the Mexican candidate for president and, the government didn't allow the bars to open the next day. I lost all my money.
Which came first: musician or record company executive
Obviously a musician but five minutes later was someone next to HIM making it a job.
Are there any conflicts of interest in being a record company executive and a musician?
Not if you keep your musical side as a hobby and don't interfere with your work schedule.
Would you ever sign yourself as a musician to your label?
No. That would be a real conflict of interest.
What is the state of the Mexican record economy as compared to five years ago?
This year is 40% down compared to last year, which was down 15% .
Why did you form your own label Suave?
Alfonso Cuaron and I wanted to do the very first indie label in Mexico. We wanted to release new and exciting music. We've the same vision in music and business. So it was the perfect plan, but unfortunately the market fell 50 percent that year. Alfonso moved to London to film Harry Potter 3. Our other partner, Jorge Vergara, decided to invest his money into the Chavas football club, and I got an offer from Warner. So I guess we all move into different projects.
Why did you go back to a major label?
I enjoy working for EMI. I signed most of the artists on the roster and am friends with many people on the other EMI's. I've been at EMI for more than 10 years so I consider EMI my home. I've a deep love for EMI.
As an EMI executive, how do you feel about free downloads off the Internet?
Record companies need to find creative ways to approach consumers. The world is changing very fast, so we need to adjust our business models to fit into the new trend of consuming music.
As a musician, how do you feel about free downloads off the Internet?
Record companies needs to find creative ways to approach consumers. The world is changing very fast, so we need to adjust our business models to fit into the new trend of consuming music.
How was Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS) formed?
I started at home doing tracks on my computer. I'm still doing it like that at nights or weekends. I sleep a little.
Where does MIS tour in Mexico and internationally?
In Mexico I do 1,000-2,000 capacity venues. Internationally, not that big; I do events that seem like fun. In a way, it's my therapy. Some people play golf, some fish. I play live.
First concert attended
It was amazing! I saw The Cure the California Sports Arena in San Diego in 1987. The best show ever in my life. They were on the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me tour.
First concert worked
I was the manager of a band called Titan Show in 1992.
First industry job
Radio programmer at a legendary radio station in Mexico City called Radioactivo in 1992. Then radio promoter at EMI Mexico in 1994.
Grammy nominee as producer of the soundtrack of Y Tu Mama Tambien.
Loosing the Grammys!...naaa. I've none...yet.
Starting my independent label Suave with film director Alfonso Cuaron in 2001.
Best business decision
Closing my label and coming back to run EMI Mexico.
Best advice you received
The worst thing about success is you become what you detest"-- Jesus Jones.
What was the lesson?
There was no lesson at all. It was just an eye opener. When that happened, I was totally clear I would never have been on the managing and booking side.
Most memorable industry experience
Working with people you respect like the Beastie Boys, Esquivel or Radiohead.
What friends would be surprised to learn about you
All the musicians that I work with or that I'm friends with them.
Industry pet peeve
If I wasn't doing this, I would be...
...finishing my first novel: Emails to Myself.
Mario Ruiz, Marco Bissi, David Munns, JF Cecillion, Manolo Diaz, and Iñigo Zavala.
Camilio can be reached at: 5255 53 28 56 08; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org