LA LA Land South of the Border: cervesa, tequila and music at FIMPRO in Guadalajara.
FIMPRO, the most important gathering of the music industry in Latin America wrapped up last Friday with a blowout concert at the Conjunto Santander arts complex at the University of Guadalajara and an after party in a local club that went until 2:30 am..
Sometimes called the NAMM of Latin America, it is actually not like NAMM, which is a industry showcase for music technology and instruments; there are a lot of bands and artists, and daily band showcases, but the emphasis is on gear. FIMPRO (The International Music Fair for Professionals), is all about the bands –and beer and tequila and fun.
Mornings in FDIMPRO are filled with workshops, meetings between artists and VIPs in the music industry , panel discussions, and presentations by top music executives from Mexico, the US, and Latin America, along with global music Leaders like TikTok, Sony, Tunecore, Universal Music, and others.
A FIMPRO feature everyone loves is “speed meetings”. If you are a rising band and you want to talk to a CEO or A&R at a major label, or the Music Supervisor at someplace like Disney, good luck — except at FIMPRO. After you register you can go online and set up a 10-minute meeting and make your pitch to the industry heavyweights there..
While the industry meetings are great – if you speak Spanish (mine is still intermediate – no suficiente para entravistas) I am there for the music and there is lots of it. Around 600 bands apply to perform at FIMPRO and this year only 11 were chosen. Usually there are 50 bands performing, but because of Covid restrictions, the performances were limited to the Santander auditorium and the plaza outside the huge Santander complex, part of the 350 thousand -student University of Guadalajara.
In non-Covid years the showcases – mini concerts – were held at the Plaza next to the Santander during the day and at rock clubs across the city at night. This year there were no official night concerts, but many bands booked gigs at local clubs like the Centro Culture Breton, which are open to the public. And many bands show up who are not part of the official program, book gigs in local clubs (there are hundreds in Guadalajara, which is a lot like Los Angeles, only larger with 8 million people) and promote them with flyers at the conference or online.
This huge gathering of musical artists from around Latin America, Spain, the US, and Canada plus music executives from around the world, has brought the attention of the music industry to Guadalajara. Replete with artists, clubs, producers, recording studios, and all the talent and equipment needed to create, produce and disseminate music, thanks to FIMPRO, artists are flocking to Guadalajara.
Because of the huge University of Guadalajara, and many smaller universities and colleges,” “Guad” is a very young city- lots of tech savvy, music-hungry 20- and 30-somethings who are students or who work in the exploding local tech industry. Add to this a film and TV production industry, film festivals and the international Mariachi Festival which draws 100,000 people every year, Guadalajara rocks!
FIMPRO artists bring the entire world of Latin/Latino music to “Guad”, including Mexican post-rock, Peruvian shoegaze, Ecuadorian experimental jazz, American Spanish folk rock and fusion, dream rock, cumbia, tropical, alt rock, Latin punk, urban, electronic, blues, and a dozen other genres from every Spanish-speaking country (or cities, in the case of Los Angeles, Miami and Montreal). And while they are here, they make record deals, sign radio rotation and film music contracts, meet producers, promoters, other bands. And the beat, literally, goes on.
Bands that played this year include Nancy Sanchez from Los Angeles with bilingual rap, alt folk and jazz; La Charo, who brought hip-shaking tropical rock from Argentina; the edgy pop solo project of the multidisciplinary artist Natalia Gómez known as ANAN, the cheeky Uruguayan singer Papina de Palma., Mexican female-led dream rock band Ella Contra el Tigre , Peruvian multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Lorena Blume, and the wild Columbian cumbia/rock/folk powerhouse La Pacifica Power an more.
All of these bans played either in the cavernous Santander auditorium or on the outdoor Plaza stage. Nancy Sanchez teamed up woth Grad-based Luckas ). And the Semifinalistas and La Charo for a rock and dance party at the Centro Cultural Breton that had almost the entire room dancing and conga-lining until 2:30 am, when the music (but not the drinking) stopped.
And speaking of drinking, about the tequila and beer. Somehow the FIMPRO team manages to sign one or more tequila distillers and beer brewers as sponsors, and that of course, means free samples. This year’s sponsors included Tequila San Matias (TSM) ,and Cerveza Minerva beer. TSM kept everyone in margaritas at the end of Day 1 and during the afternoon showcases on Day 3. More interesting were the unlimited free samples of their extra anejo, which went down like liquid agave gold. Following it up with a amber Minerva hit the spot.
Other sponsors included TikTok, Spotify, sound:check, and other music heavy weights, but they lacked the cache of the distiller and the brewer.
Videos of some of the performances can be seen at YouTube/Patrick O’Heffernan, or a https://www.fimguadalajara.mx/
Check out the FIMPRO2021 playlist on Spotify at FIMPRO2021
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