Salsa star Manuelle makes his move with own label

Fri May 30, 2008 5:49pm EDT
 
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By Leila Cobo

MIAMI (Billboard) - Victor Manuelle, one of salsa music's brightest contemporary stars, is the first to admit that his way is not for everyone.

That way is on his own label, after 14 years with Sony BMG.

"Not every artist is an impresario, and I don't presume to be one," says Manuelle. "But you have to know when to make your move. My career is at its peak. There was no reason to wait."

Manuelle's new studio album, "Soy" -- which mixes his trademark romantic salsa with hardcore dance fare and some pop -- will be released June 10 on his own label, Kiyavi.

The album's entire production, recording, pressing, design, marketing and promotion -- including video -- has been financed by Manuelle himself. Only distribution falls under Sony BMG (with whom he maintains an excellent relationship).

For someone of Manuelle's standing to shoulder sole financial responsibility for his recordings is rare in the music industry in general and the Latin genre in particular. But as a major artist with name recognition, Manuelle is in a unique artistic and economic position.

"Many people misunderstand," he says over lunch in Miami Beach. "I live off my performances. The album is an additional element. The fact that I have control over my career and my development goes beyond breaking even and allows me to further expand my concert circuit."

More than a decade on the tropical circuit has made Manuelle many friends he can lean on. Many costs, he says, are lowered simply by exchanging favors. And since the buck begins and ends with him, things happen quickly.

"Maybe in a year, I'll realize I lost something," he says. "Not now. I can do anything. In the end, the label represents the music. And who does the music? I do. Well, here I am."

Reuters/Billboard