LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Outside of charity events, convincing an established musician to play a festival for free would seem like a tall order.
And yet that's exactly what dozens of regional Mexican artists have signed up to do at the Vive Grupero festival, set for May 15-16 at Mexico City's Foro Sol, a 50,000-seat baseball stadium.
The concert, produced by promotion giant/venue owner OCESA, celebrates the 25th anniversary of Fonovisa and the 40th anniversary of Disa, the two leading labels in the field of regional Mexican music. Both are now part of Universal Music Group.
The two-stage festival's lineup reads like a who's who of norteno, duranguense and banda sinaloense acts, including Los Tigres del Norte, Banda el Recodo, Conjunto Primavera, Los Tucanes de Tijuana and K-Paz de la Sierra. There are also up-and-comers like Los Paizaz de Guanacevi and Los Primos de Durango, both booked by Pepe Serrano, who says the exposure such a high-profile event provides makes it worthwhile to forgo the usual fees.
"It's an opportunity for our artists to be seen by an audience that doesn't normally get to see them," Serrano says.
The Foro Sol has hosted concerts by Madonna, Metallica and the Jonas Brothers, as well as Vive Latino, the rock festival that has drawn top acts from all over Latin America since 1998. "It's a place where regional Mexican artists don't normally play," Fonovisa Mexico general manager Antonio Silva says.
Regional Mexican dances "have a schedule that's difficult for a child or a senior citizen," Silva says, noting that they start in the evening and end at dawn. In contrast, Vive Grupero will start in the afternoon and end at midnight. "It's a family-friendly schedule," Silva adds.
Without performers' fees, ticket prices are relatively low. Including Ticketmaster service charges, single- and two-day non-VIP passes are 311 pesos ($25) and 504 pesos ($41), respectively.
Even with sponsors, Silva doesn't predict with any certainty that the event will be profitable.
"The idea for us in associating with this project is to make it something that in the future could be a showcase for a lot of new artists, and to consolidate others," Silva says. "Today, the vision isn't necessarily economic profit, but an image profit and the impact we'll have in the media."