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What Working With Some Of The Biggest Names In Latin Music Has Taught Me About Finding Your Own Success

Julian Duque

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latin music

My partnership with these uniquely successful people in Latin music has also given me insight into the science of success. I’ve seen which artists get it right—making a name for themselves through their art—and which don’t.


Success is not solely a product of talent, nor is it solely a product of luck or ambition––although having these things certainly does help. Rather, to find success and build a satisfying, sustainable career requires something else. It’s a matter of adopting––with strategy and purpose––the right kind of mindset. 

This is something I’ve learned over my life and career in the music business, specifically within Latin music. Originally from Colombia, I moved to the U.S. wanting to get into this field because I’m passionate about and identify with this style of art. It’s a part of who I am, where I come from. It’s ingrained in me.  

But I also had ambitions to work with the biggest names in Latin music. I started by getting my masters in music business at NYU. After that, I began working at The Orchard, a music distribution company and outfit of Sony Music focused on spreading songs and albums to digital platforms across the world. Think Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc. It’s my job to manage relationships between labels and our company, working with more than 60 labels in total––specifically those repping Latin artists. 

Now, I’m proud to say I’ve achieved my goal of working with Latin music’s brightest stars, many of whom I’ve idolized for a long time: Bad Bunny, Elvis Crespo, Anuel AA, Pitbull. This has been exciting, of course, but my partnership with these uniquely successful people has also given me insight into the science of success. I’ve seen which artists get it right—making a name for themselves through their art—and which don’t. 

The difference? Their mindset. Talent can make for “one-hit wonders.” But purpose, community, and authenticity are what make for longevity. 

Of course, adopting this sort of mindset isn’t easy. Here are a few of the more impactful lessons I’ve learned about success working with these artists––lessons which I believe are transferable across industries, no matter what your goals ultimately are. 

1) Prioritize relationships. 

In music, especially, it was once the case that in order to reach an audience, you needed the assistance of major labels. 

But that’s no longer the truth. Given the accessibility of today’s digital landscape, no matter your industry, you can actualize an approximation of success with a laptop and a bit of ambition. Yet the thing that still remains is the importance of relationships. 

To achieve success today––lasting success––you need reliable, strategic partnerships. You need people who will advocate for you, who will lend you a second perspective when you’re in need of advice, and who will lift you up when you’re down. More tangibly, you need people who will connect you with other people, other audiences, and other influences. 

Relationships prove the building blocks with which you build the foundation of your success. They’re what artists, founders, and entrepreneurs rely upon. Simply put, no one does it alone. 

2) Find your community. 

Critical to building quality relationships is finding your community. When I first arrived in the U.S., I didn’t realize I would be categorized as “Latino.” In fact, it confused me at first. It seemed limiting. Yet I’ve seen as I’ve grown that it’s actually the opposite; my heritage is one major way I’ve related to and connected with people who now comprise my network. 

It’s also how I’ve discovered and honed my identity and voice. It’s helped me find my purpose.

Finding your identity in this way––through community––helps you figure out how, exactly, you’re going to provide unique value and contribute something meaningful to the world. Personally, it’s partly what inspired me to found my own company, Immigration Records.

3) It’s all about your message and the content you deliver. 

Speaking of your contribution to the world, in music, especially––and in the world of business more generally––you’ll only ever be as successful as your core message or offering is resonant. The more folks who relate to your content, the more loyalty and interest you’ll engender. 

An example of an artist I work with who does this exceptionally well is Bad Bunny. Bad Bunny––as anyone who’s listened to his music can attest––is talented. But the reason he’s achieved such world-changing success is because he’s used his platform and voice to share a message that matters and that’s authentic. For this reason, it resonates. 

He’s done this most recently in advocating for change in Puerto Rico, where there’s currently an immense amount of political turmoil around leaks and corruption. Instead of standing idly by, or sticking to his music, Bad Bunny has gotten involved, calling for the governor’s resignation and sharing a message with the world that not only taps into the anger many Puerto Ricans feel, but that also broadcasts that sentiment in a way only someone with Bad Bunny’s platform can. 

That’s something Bad Bunny’s fans will remember. More than streams or album sales, this is the type of messaging, content, and purpose that legacies are made of. And it’s for this reason that dominating the charts––or turning record profits––shouldn’t be the sole barometer with which you measure success or influence, nor should it be the primary goal informing your larger strategy. It’s better instead to try and relate to and connect with your fans, customers, or users authentically––to seek to genuinely impact and improve their lives. Artists and entrepreneurs who can forge that sort of connection with people are the ones who last. 

4) Follow what you love. 

Finally, finding community, establishing your identity, and honing your message is how you’ll establish and define your lane and your path. It’s also how you’ll ensure you always remain true to yourself. 

This proves instrumental to the longevity of music artists across the industry. The truth is, artists rarely have a big break. What allows them to persist is their passion. That’s what sustains those who go on to change the game. They’re doing what they love, something they believe in. 

No matter the work you’re doing, you should strive to do the same thing. 

At the end of the day, success will look different for everyone, so it’s crucial you define your own conception and strive for that. 

If “success” to you means large quantities of Instagram followers, bundles of money, or fame, you won’t last long. 

No matter what you’re aspiring to achieve, what sustains and drives artists, founders, and creatives is not prestige. Nor is it talent, or even ambition. 

Rather, what drives success is purpose, genuinity, and the people you keep and build around you.

Julian, originally from Colombia, received his Master ́s Degree in Music Business from New York University in 2017. While attending NYU, he founded Stereotheque, the first AI powered educational platform for emerging musicians to discover connections between artists and the stories behind the music. Following graduation, Julian joined The Orchard, a division of Sony Music, to head the relationship with Latin and Caribbean based labels. At The Orchard, Julian has had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in Latin Music such as Elvis Crespo, Anuel AA, Pitbull and Bad Bunny, to name a few. Julian is also a digital music and tech advisor for artists and labels. He founded Immigration Records in 2018, a label that focuses on helping Immigrant artists expand their careers in the United States.

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