Latin Alternative Music Conference Challenges Stereotypes

Summer conference aims to broaden media's view of Latin music.

The Latin Alternative Music Conference, scheduled for August 13–15 at the Hilton Hotel and Towers in New York, isn't your typical music industry schmoozefest. More than that, it's an in-your-face challenge to label and media leaders who think Latin music starts and stops with Ricky Martin.

"There's a real stereotyping of Latin music," said festival organizer Josh Norek. "Especially in New York, where it's mostly a Puerto Rican/Dominican crowd, the media expect all Latinos to listen just to salsa and meringue. But out West and in Mexico, the Mexican population has been listening to rock since the '50s, and you've got great cutting-edge bands like Café Tacuba and Molotov popping up."

Many of these bands have no problem selling records, but Norek said they've been held back by indifferent or fearful radio executives. "You've got bands like Puya, a salsa-metal band from Puerto Rico. They've got an Anglo fanbase, but they still don't get that much airplay. Yet Rammstein gets played on K-ROCK, and how many of those listeners speak German?"

The conference schedule includes band showcases, panel discussions, an appearance by the Watcha tour of alternative-Latin artists and a Central Park SummerStage concert that includes groups from Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.

Online registration is available at latinalternative.com.