"Argentina was, and still is, a huge gate to the region.... Mexico is a big place for live events up north, and Argentina plays the same role down south. So, if you wanted to conquer the Latin American region, I would probably focus on those two territories." — Ariel Chichotky, on Argentina's place in the Latin American music market
These days, Ariel Chichotky, Director of Dale Play Records, finds himself in the middle of a cultural movement. "Trap Argentino," or the Argentinian trap music scene, has been slowly bubbling up since the 2010s, and it's now making its way throughout Latin America at a good clip.
Buenos Aires-based Dale Play, a label whose start began as a sub-unit in a larger production and management company, boasts an artist roster with many of Trap Argentino's premier faces: Duki (whose September 2019 hit “Goteo” has amassed 72M YouTube Views and 120M+ Spotify streams), Trap producer Bizarrap (whose YouTube Music Sessions have amassed 812M+ Channel Views), and soulful up-and-comer Nicki Nicole (who commands 3.2M Instagram Followers).
If you’re thinking this is related to reggaetón, you are sorely mistaken. That genre originated in Puerto Rico and Colombia, and while you see some of its artists participating in Trap, Trap is its own animal. The 2000s Atlanta-born Rap style known for its much harder sound and harsher lyrical content, has, like many of its hip-hop-related cousins, travelled through the Internet to the entire world, and Argentina is now one of its epicenters.
"Listen, I want to make a living out of this." — Ariel, when he started his career as an artist manager
Graduating from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 2010 with a business degree, Chichotky first cut his teeth managing Argentinian Funk band Suprafonicos, then after working his professional network, found himself managing a music studio. One of his first studio projects happened to be from an Argentinian telenovela-star named Lali Espósito.
Eventually, the TV-turned-pop-star Lali took on Chichotky as her manager, and he proceeded to sign her with Sony Music Argentina (recording) and Warner Chappell (publishing), quickly taking her mainstream throughout the Latin region and into Europe.
"This label is not traditional ... the spirit here ... is to work with the artists and let them be.... [Our artists] are used to drawing their own rules." — Ariel Chichotky, on Dale Play's company philosophy
After his run with Lali and learning from major label practices, Chichotky moved on to Dale Play in a Director role that encompasses artist management, marketing, and whatever else his artists need.
Our new podcast episode touches on Argentinian Rock's regional influence giving way to Trap and how Chichotky blends business tactics with the free-running creativity of his artists. "Encauzar," or "to guide," his roster from the business perspective is his top priority.
"I think that's the tradeoff ... finding our role as business men and women, without messing with the art ... trying to propose new things and think big and think globally, so that this collaboration which started in the hoods in Buenos Aires gets global." — Ariel Chichotky, on taking his artists global
Chichotky uses data to help guide his sense of "place" when he tries to market Dale Play's tracks in the right geographical and platform locations. Who are his artist's collaborators? Where are their audiences listening and on what streaming apps? It's here where he leverages data in his day to day.
"I find that data is fundamental in order to make marketing useful and make it matter." — Ariel Chichotky, on his use of music data in business
No matter how big some of his artists' social media exposure is, they always strive toward growth. However, Chichotky is able to adjust realistic expectations from his biggest stars like Bizarrap to some of his younger artists. While one of Bizarrap's YouTube music sessions can acquire millions of views within days, it's quite OK for his emerging artists to show humbler stats in the beginning.
"In the live space, you see the truth about an artist. Because an artist is not only a singer or a producer.... An artist should be an entertainer. How many fantastic singers are out there that do not have big audiences? That doesn't make him or her a bad singer, but they're not an artist. I think the moment you see the artist ... is in the live event." — Ariel Chichotky, on the importance of live music
His view of the live space is one of truth, where substantial art is separated from empty spectacle. At the same time, he also believes it's about an artist's goals: If they simply make amazing digital content that commands millions of engagements online and draws income in that way, how is that not also success?
All in all, Chichotky and the rest of the Dale Play team seem to be taking Latin America's latest cultural export to the rest of the world with an artist-first mentality and a data-driven strategy that capitalizes on each of their audience bases' online and live behavior. We wish them and the Trap Argentino movement nothing but growth.
Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to the How Music Charts podcast for more.