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The salsa taxi driver case

Del: 11/12/2006

Business models and consumption models: when everything starts from music

Never underestimate the importance of the taxi driver. The one I end up moving with, on a dull grey day in Milan, is a taxi driver crazy about Latin music. While he is driving, he explains to me that this is his passion. Actually, I had realised: not only was the taxi slipping away in traffic to the rhythm of salsa, but the conductor of the taxi seems to be dancing while he drives. The salsa taxi driver tells me that he not only buys Latin music, but that he, obviously, takes dancing lessons and spends the weekend in clubs where you can let loose to the rhythm of salsa and bachata as well.

Without my wanting it, the salsa taxi driver is giving me the direct experience of a consumption style based on a music genre. Actually, there is a well-defined link between records that he listens to in the car, the courses that he attends and the clubs that he goes to: it is, exactly, about Latin music. Most likely, our taxi driver friend purchases magazines on the subject and he knows the TV and radio stations that broadcast his favourite music. Furthermore, the salsa taxi driver could be more than interested in having a Latin hit as his ringing tone, or to purchase merchandising linked to the most popular Latin artists. Broadening the horizon still more, we imagine the salsa taxi driver could be really happy to take a trip to one of the locations where that music comes from: Cuba, or the Caribbean.. In other words: our taxi driver, at least with intention, would be willing and interested to mould around his favourite music a style of consumption and preferences. One could say that Latin music delineates for him the centre of a real lifestyle: the “Latin” can really determine for this person the purchase of products, services, experiences, the development of social contacts and the exposure to selected media.

It is, precisely, basing on this principal that Planet Records – independent label specialized in Latin music, has created a model offer that today represents a successful case in the music sector.

The concept, that we have seen, is simple: develop around a theme, that of Latin music, a coherent model of offer as a brand. As an ensemble of concentric circles.

It all starts, precisely with music. Planet Records, in these last years, has stood out, as a reference point in Latin music, working on a specialized catalogue that presents all its top artists of the Caribbean and becoming protagonist thanks to phenomena like that of Aventura (remember “Obsesion”?)

For about two years, Planet has broadened its offer to the public thanks to an intuition: that of creating a specialized and authoritative media. That is how the Latino! Magazine was born. Magazine, exclusive heading of Latin music with correspondents on location (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico). On sale in newsstands and record stores with an enclosed compilation, Latino! Magazine reaches a diffusion that goes over 40 thousand copies per issue. There is more: Latino! Magazine becomes partner of the most important events of Latin music in Italy, like for instance Fiesta and Latinoamericando.

The paths to Latin music become endless. On the mobile telephony Kiver and Latino! Magazine have launched the “Special Latino!” initiative, that allows the salsa taxi driver and many other salsa-goers to personalise their mobile with this type of contents. Even the advertising world is not just watching: the music of the Havana Club spot sound tracks was selected from the Planet Records catalogue (“La Vida Es Un Carnaval” – Isaac Delgado and “Soy Yo” - Cubanito).

Among the new Planet Records projects, even those linked to tourism, with the “theme” travel offer to the capitals of Salsa, Bachata and Reggaeton.

At this point, it becomes difficult to define Planet Records simply as a “record label”: the Latin theme has actually moved on to different sectors, from book trade up to tourism. Planet Records has actually created and extended the Latino! brand in several directions, all coherent with the same principal: Latin music is not just listened to, but it is lived.

Without my wanting it, the salsa taxi driver gave me the reading key in the business vein on the most deep meaning of music. Never underestimate the importance of the taxi driver.

                                                                   Chiara Santoro


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