Loud and Live CEO Nelson Albareda On Celia, Going Mainstream: Latin Hitmaker Podcast

The entertainment industry knows Nelson Albareda as the founder and CEO of Loud and Live, the maverick marketing and live entertainment agency that produces and promotes the tours of superstars like Ricardo Arjona and Camilo, negotiates massive branding deals like J Balvin with McDonalds and now also produces prime content content, like the Latin Grammy nominated HBOMax special with Juan Luis Guerra.

What many don’t know is how Albareda came to helm one of the most dynamic entertainment companies today, with over 100 employees and slated to produce and promote 400 shows between now and December 2022. It started with a brash proposal to Bacardi, when Albareda was only 18; a proposal that became a $2 million dollar deal, founded on Albareda’s Cuban heritage and music.

Albareda is featured in this week’s episode of “Latin Hitmaker,” the Billboard podcast that tells the stories of the visionary executives behind the artists and their hits and that features a new guest every Wednesday.

Here are some priceless nuggets from that conversation, as well as a link to the full episode.

On how a very brief stint at the seminary landed him a deal with Bacardi: “I was in high school and then I decided to go to the seminary. That only lasted about two weeks. My first Saturday, the guys at the seminary took me out for pizza. It was a small town in Indiana and the minute the pizza door opened, there were about 200 girls in the pizza shop. The only thing in town was an all-girl boarding school. I woke up the next morning and I told the director, Hey, I’m out. But I met a guy through church that had some connections and I told him, ‘If you get me into Bacardi, I’ll give you 50 percent of whatever I make. He knew the chairman of Bacardi in Bermuda.”

On his memories of client Celia Cruz: “I was new to the business and every artist was always late. But with Celia, if we had an 8 am press day, at 7:45 Pedro and Celia on set, it was were sitting there in the lobby. Even if you were punctual, they were already there ahead of time. She was a very consummate professional, sweet and short and very respectful. Also impressive were her personal notes. She would always send a handwritten note saying Thank you for anything and for any little detail to everybody.”

On losing everything, and getting it back again: “I launched a company […] that did amazingly well. And as quickly as it rose, as quickly as it went down. We did a big event in December 2004 where we burned through about two million, three million dollars in cash within two weeks. All of a sudden I had no money and I had to close the doors and I had to start again.I started Eventus [his previous company] in January 05 with a dollar in my pocket, out of the kitchen of my house.”

On the promise he made to his wife: “I left Univision when I was twenty six and I went on my own and I promised my wife that if I didn’t make a million dollars by the age of 33, I’d go back to corporate America. It was a magic number. I’m a big believer, obviously.”

On the power of the Latin marketplace today: “In the past […]It was just a check the box type thing. Today we’re in a unique situation in which every Gen Z kid –whether they’re white, black, Hispanic, Indian– they probably listen at some point to a Bad Bunny or a certain artist. There’s a huge, huge opportunity, and I think it’s a very different marketplace today. I think what we need to do as an industry on the latin side is continue to push integrity, ethics and Return on Investment.”



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