Chat Transcript for Fernando Cabral's Vidchat on 05/10

Q: What are your day to day responsibilities?

A: Usually at the marketing/exec for the region is basically in charge of campaigns of artists and releases and coordinating album releases throughout the region.  With time that has changed a little bit, the industry has been very challenged and it is very challenging in Latin America, I also have to develop partnerships with brands and opportunites that I did not have to do before, but at the basic level it is coordinating the release campaigns over the entire region.

Q: What can fans do to help artist promotion?

A: I think this is what I have always felt about fans: I want you to understand that any record executive is a fan first, it wasn't too long ago when I was 17 and a fan of music and was trying to get all I could to find out more about the band and their music and so on. I think today the most important thing a fan can do to help is to really be active as much as they can, specifically online.  That compontent really changed drastically in the last few years and it is super important in Latin America, in countries especailly like Chile which aren't as big but have a huge population online.  The best thing fans can do is help with online promotion, the team has lost a lot of capacity to reach a lot of people and fans can be key in that.

Q: What's the hardest part of your job?

A: The hardest part of my job at this particular moment in time in the industry is helping bring about change.  For our industry to continue to be healthy we need a healthier relationship with artists, partnerships, clients...we have to change as record executivess and that we have to help everyone around us that we work with help effect that change too.  I love the job I do so I don't find it hard, because I'm passionate about it, but I think the hardest thing right now is being able to talk to people and explaining the changes that have happened in our industry so that we can work better together.

Q: In a big record company it's sometimes difficult to find out what's going on street-level.  When you talk to folks inside the company about going online and talking with the customers, how do they react to that?

A: It's funny, because it depends on person from person, especailly generationally.  Most executives don't understand it but what excites me is that over the past 3 or 4 years I've seen a lot of young people coming into the industry who I think understand that a lot better and understand how to use the tool of the internet and the social networks and so on to work it better.  Right now if I look for anyone to work for a company like ours, those are the young people i'm looking for, those who are truely engaged and understand where the space is for us to be able to do well.

Talking abut change, I was thinking ahead to this discussion we were gonna have, I was thinking about when I was a fan and I was thinking about the big difference is that when I was fan was that there wasn't an infastructure to get as involved as I can today.  All I could do is get a magazine or something but that was 20 years ago.  Now all these people can participate in a way that I couldn't 20 years ago.  I really respect the passion that fans like Incubus fans have and I think whatever we can do to help fans be part of the process, it will be great for everybody.

Q: How can we avoid piracy?

A: We can't avoid it.  I think that's the sad truth about it, the only real advice I can give you guys on that is that our problem in Latin America is that the governments in general have been very unhelpful when it comes to this issue, so unfortunately we don't have any laws that enable us to enforce defense against piracy, whether it is physical or online.  Physical piracy is a very big issue, so that you guys know, a country like Peru is 90% pirate.  What's sold physically is 90% pirated.  In Equador, it's 95%.  In Chile it is like 50%.  So, that's what we're fighting with and that's why we have so many issues triyng to do the proper job for our artists.  I don't think we can fight that, that's out there, I think the two things we can do is that fans can really engage the government to make laws to protect us.  The other thing we can do is to answer the question, how do we get music to fans in a way that protects us against piracy?

Q: Why is there such a difference in the numbers from country to country?

A: It's a thing about the makeup of the companies.  Countries like Brazil and Peru had solid distrubution channels before.  Initially, about 15 years ago, it started with casette piracy and then evolved to CD piracy.  At the time, a lot of the companies said 'to heck with the cassette format' and pirates made a killing on the CDs.  A lot of it is also pricing.  You have to really understand the economic makeup of the entire continent.  There is only a small percentage of people who are well to do and there is a much bigger proportion of people who aren't as well off.  Piracy really focuses on people who are not as well off and we have failed to combat it properly by not responding to the economic needs with proper pricing ranges.  There are also countries like Bolivia and Paraguay where there is no distribution because there are no stores that we can get our product to.

Q: in the case of countries that have no physical stores, online better?

A: Yes.  I agree with you, I think we're trying to do that but it's slow.  Just that you guys know, most of the online business is mobile in latin america, maybe 90-95% is mobile.  We are working hard on being able to get digital stores like Latin America iTunes, in places like Brazil and Argentina that it isn't in yet.  Another thing we need to work on is that people still have to get in the habit of being comfortable in using their credit cards online, whihc I think Latin American consumers are still wary of being able to use them online to make purchases.  I agree that it is one of the best ways we have to get music out there.  It is very interesting because half of what is purchased in Chile is online but half is physical, I would not be surprised if in a few years the other countries catch up with Chile.  But if we get physical product that is interesting, that's different, and priced appropriately, we can still sell units.  We're working with kiosks now to get product out now, and in Bolivia and Paraguay our experiments with kiosks worked really well for us when we didn't have physical stores.  Lastly I think we need to look at brands ot help us get the music out there.  in mexico for example we have a deal with a beer company where if you buy beer you can get codes and download music.  In Argentina we're working on a deal that when  you pay your taxes in a particular province ontime you can get music downloads, I think these brands are another important way to get music out there.

Q: Does a marketing campaign for INNW? exist in Brazil, because in the past there have been no such thing for Incubus.

 A: Yes, there is a marketing plan for Brazil and I think that some of the reasons that I am here that I really want you guys all to feel that you are part of that plan and that you can particpate in that plan.  I really want you to be in a situation where you feel like you can know your local company better and know the people who work with Incubus better.  I think when you put a plan together the hardest thing is to really understand who your audience is and how to get to them, so my invitation to Brazil is to meet with Sony in Brazil and talk to them about what you guys think is how are the ways to get in touch with the fans and how we can do a better job.  Being very realisitic, TV campaigns are very, very, very expensive, but I that if we're really smart we can attack the online universe and really get to the right audiences correctly, but if I can have you guys helping us on hwo to do that correctly that'd be fantastic.  My wish and desire is to be that one you guys and the Brazillian company get together that a marketing plan will come out of it that we can implement, and if there are any ideas that I think are specifically great and I think should be implemented regardless of the money required, I can contribute from the regional office.  Yes, there will be a marketing plan and my ideal thing is for you guys to participate and be a part of that.

Q: What band do you think has a similar level of fame of Incubus that you've had a better experiecne marketing for in Brazil?

A: I think generally speaking that I feel that as a company the companies in Argentina and Chile, because rock music there is very predominant, do a very good job of marketing rock artists, and in Brazil we have a harder time marketing it because we don't have the radio stations we used to have for rock music and it becomes a harder task, it becomes a little bit of an art.  I don't know if there's a particular example of something we've been incrediably successful with in Brazil in terms of rock, right now it is very difficult for rock, but I think we've done a lot of good campaigns for the Foo Fighters, the Strokes, the Kings of Leon but I think of all the countries Brazil is always the hardest one to do a good campaign for rock bands.  The big differential here is that Incubus is an artist that is geninely and very honestly interested in Latin America.  I see it in the connection that you guys have with the site but I can also see it because they're an artist that goes to the region often and is always there to perform live which is not something you take for granted because it doesn't always happen.  You have to use that and use that this is a band that loves the region that comes to play, and you have to get people to know what it's like to see them live.  We should talk about how we could stream live broadcasts of Latin American or Brazilian shows, I want to see what we can do to get as many people as possible to see them live in Latin America.

Q: I see that less and less people here in Brazil are listening to rock radio.  How can we get those people back and show Incubus to the right people?  Do you have any experience in marketing an album that is truely a change of pace for the band?  Maybe this is an opportunity to get new fans for the band who didn't like their older music?

A: Radio is one of the big problems in Brazil.  There is no rock radio.  I think maybe it started dying about four years ago.  My opinion from being a rock fan, I think a band like Incubus does not live or die by radio.  I think it's an artist that goes beyond radio, there are countries that don't have radio, so we ahve to find other solutions for the countries where the radio stations aren't.  I think what we need to look at is how we use internet specifically for this.  People today are online.  They're not listening to the radio.  If you are 16-19, you're trying to find out about music online, you're not putting on the radio station to find out.  I think Incubus is an artist in the true sense of the word, somebody that who when they have a fan it's normally going to be a longterm fan, someone who has passion for everything the band does, what the band means and does for them.  They're not the flavor for this year and then it's over.  What this band has is something that they're going to be able to do it for this year oand next year and many many years from now.  So how do we increase the loyal fanbase, I don't think we're going to live or die by airwave radio, let's look at internet and online radios and mobile music and social networks.  Giving people chances to see them live, this is a great live band.  They do what they do best live and people undesrtand them better live, so how do we get people to come see them live and understand the concert experience?

I think about the change of sound, it's a very natural process for an artist to grow, and that growth is shown when your sound changes or you add new things and keep developing.  If we all think that Incubus has a record that is a little different and goes in a new direction, I think it's a great signal and is something that is very healthy because the artist is still in the passion of writing and getting better and looking at more and new things.  I think whenever an artist does a change in their sound, you always work on two lines, two bases.  You always want to address the core fans who have always been there and have a true passion for this artist, you want to make sure they still feel connected and spoken to and engaged, but it also gives you an opporutnity to seek new fans.  I think this has to do with a lot those people who are 16-19 and are hearing this band for the first time, so making sure they can relate to this.  I want to talk to the fans, I want to talk to people who are general rock music fans, but I alwso want to talk to young people who might be listening for new music that they haven't heard yet.  I think it's a wonderful opportunity.

Q: In Venezuela the physical copies of Incubus albums are expensive, because in Venezuela it has to be imported and the taxes are very high.  What can Sony do to help lower the cost?

A: Basically in Venezuela what we have is a group of countries that report to one country.  In Columbia we have a company, in Peru, Qquador and Venezuela, the three of them report to Columbia.  The place that we manufacture is Columbia.  So if you buy CDs from Sony from Peru, Equador or Venezuela, they are manufactured in Equador and exported to those companies.  What you're finding when you buy a CD in Venezuela it is exported from the US which makes it more expensive because it was imported in US dollars.  The only way I have to solve that is if Columbia manufactures and exports to Venezuela.  For that to be possible there needs to be a minimum amount of orders, which Venezuela's market doesn't meet.  I think it is an operational problem that is more common than I'd like it to be and it is a problem in a lot of companies.  I would really like to solve this problem but I can't, I wish I had some kind of service which I don't have right now where I had some kind of store, where our store could be ordered from and we could send it directly to you, but it doesn't exist yet.  Fans are fans all over the world and you all deserve to get the same things, and I believe in that, so bear with us as I try to figure out how to get you the same thing other fans get around the world.

Q: Here in Chile, they make Incubus albums here but the quality is not very good.  For example, the Make Yourself CD insert has no content.

A: Normally in Chile what we do is that the product is imported from the Argentine company, so we manufacture it in Argentina and send it to Chile, it should be the same product you get in the US, so I'm not sure what's going on with that, I can't imagine Sony releasing something missing so much.

Q: Could fans in Latin America expect same packaging on physical product as it gets in the US?

A: In a company like this where we do stuff worldwide, basically there is one set of parts that we decide on here in the US, which are then sent all across the world to manufactures and a company cannot change packaging without the OK from Sony, so things should normally be the same aroudn the world.  Many things may have the Sony logo on them but still be bootlegs.

Q: How does one get a job in the music business?

A: My question is do yoU WANT to get a job in the music industry?  The people that I'm looking for in a record company today are exactly the kind of people you guys are.  It is really improtant for a company to stay young and it's really important that people who work in a record company be really passionate and care about the artists.  I think that sometimes in that area we don't think enough about how we need to have people that are passionate about music, so that you can enjoy this job and deal better with the sacrifices it requird.  The fact that you are passionate and informed and online and know where the audience is today is an invaluable assest to a record company today.  I have actually done a study of the average age of the companyies in latin america and it told us a lot.  The Brazilian company had the youngest average and I think we need to bring our age average down a little to communicate better with the audience.  That is what I look at; passion, youth, morivation and how informed they are online.

Q: What do you think of HQ, do you think it's important to making the band more accessable to fans?

A: You know I think this opportunity I now have because you invited me and I wisely accepted shows me what a site can be.  Over the weekend I signed in and started snooping around and I think you can have two kinds of sites.  The sites where you go in and you see something and you listen to something and it's less interactive, or you have this environment where I see that everyone is friends and people are saying hello to each other and asking how you're doing; there is a relationship here.  It is more than an artist site, it is a community in the real sense of the word and as somebody who has been here for just a few minutes to see this it really is amazing because I don't see that in the other sites and to be honest with you guys I wasn't expecting this to be as passionate as it was.  At the end of the day this is what it's about, it's about everyone loving music and making a connection so it's meaningful to everybody.  As I read everything that everyone says I'm just really amazed at the community you have built and I want to know, how do you make this bigger, how do you give the  link out to more and more people?

Q: How damaging is the issue of leaks and illegal downloads for the job and industry?

A: Rennie answered: I was up in San Francisco at the Music Tech conference and both Brandon and Mike were asked how they felt about the leak.  Brandon said it felt weird for him because the band had planned a presentation for their music and it was like somebody had gotten into the party to eat the cake before anyone else had even gotten to see it.  Once that happens from the band's perspective, it's not their responsibility to be police, but they do think if music is diminished to the point that people feel free to spread it around the world without permission or paying for it, what is it that adds to the experience to people enough to encourage sales?  It's the personal connection that the band has to its fans, what's interesting to me is how many fans posted and emailed about how bad they felt that the record had been leaked and how disappointed felt that it was spoiling the experience, and how many of those people helped find the illegal downloads and helped Sony isolate the problem.

Fernando Cabral: I tell you how it impacts me, and how it has through my career: You know I've been doing this for thirteen years, so my first year in the industry was the best year for the business in Latin AMerica. Then the next year it all started going downhill.  What I want to tell you guys to understand about what has happened, I think I went through about ten years, where every year no matter what company I was in, people were fired.  People lost their jobs because illegal music was attacking our business, so to me what I saw was an industry with people who had families and worked hard but were losing their jobs every year because of what illegal music does to us.  I can't tell you how traumatic that was.  Every year, I thought, maybe it will be me who loses his job.  So illegal downloads and things like leaks and pirated music, what they've done is that they've destroyed the industry but most of all they've done this to a lot of people which really effected our ability to promote, to market and to do the things we needed to do for the artists, whcih is really the tragic part of it all.  I'm a very positive person and I am not sad at all about being in the industry, because I think right now is a great moment to start on the ground floor and start to do things right.  Illegal music and piracy completely destroyed the industry but maybe it's a good thing, maybe the industry needed a drastic change to reconnect with the artists and modernize.  I think it is important to see that the fans can do things and become part of what the industry becomes tomorrow.  What the industry becomes tomorrow will be ditacted by no one but the comsumers, by young people and how they get their music.  We've had ten horrible years because of piracy but I am very positive and I think that as long as there are music fans like you guys out there, there is a lot of things to be happy about.  You guys are the most important thing for the artist.  You are the ones out there every night at the shows, buying the records, and the soul of everything else that happens in the business.

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Comment by Earth to Bella (Catalina M) on June 17, 2011 at 7:52pm
I just want to say that this transcript helped me a lot in a Homework I had to do for my Strategic Marketing class. Thank you for all of the great questions asked. I was amazed at how different it is to market to Latin America as oppose to the US. Also, I'm proud to say that I am very involved in helping to market Incubus by being extremely active on this site, Twitter, and Facebook, and by not sponsoring the leaking of their new album, I'm waiting anxiously for it. That being said, I really want them to come to Panama, the country I'm currently living in, I was born in Colombia and grew up in New York.
Comment by Manoela Paixão on May 14, 2011 at 1:07pm
Comment by norhalina mt (lina) on May 12, 2011 at 2:10am
woahhhh..awesome..tanx lauren!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Comment by Pilar Jarillo Rincon on May 11, 2011 at 1:42am
Thanks Lauren.
Comment by Maris Boscan (IncubusVe) on May 11, 2011 at 1:29am
awesome ... ;) thanks
Comment by Giulia DeMarchi on May 10, 2011 at 6:43pm
GREAT JOB LAUREN! This is pure gold!


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