Sony Music Entertainment Latin-Iberia has officially finalized “a new partnership” with and investment in WK Records, a record label founded by WK Entertainment head Walter Kolm.
The Big Three label unveiled its pact with WK Records via a formal release today. Prior to establishing WK Entertainment nearly 11 years back, Walter Kolm held multiple executive roles at Universal Music Latin. His Miami-headquartered artist-management company counts as clients Colombia natives Carlos Vives (16.23 million monthly Spotify listeners) and Maluma (34.41 million) as well as Argentina’s Emilia Mernes (5.73 million), to name some.
All three of these singer-songwriters have released music via SME, and Sony Music Latin-Iberia has acknowledged that WK Records’ roster already includes Puerto Rico-born Alex Rose (8.52 million monthly Spotify listeners), Bryson Tiller producer Foreign Teck, 22-year-old Seven Kayne, 20-year-old Cheo Gallego, and the aforementioned Emilia Mernes, “with more signings to be revealed soon.”
Addressing the agreement in a statement, WK Records CEO (and WK Entertainment head of music) Horacio Rodriguez emphasized his ambitious long-term vision for the SME-backed record label.
“We are delighted to join Sony Music Latin-Iberia in this new chapter for WK Records,” said the nearly 18-year Universal Music Latin exec Rodriguez. “Both groups have enjoyed a rewarding relationship through the years and this partnership will be the key driving force behind WK Records’ ambition to become one of the top Latin music companies in the world.”
Sony Music Latin-Iberia’s investment in WK Records arrives as the Latin music market continues to experience rapid growth, according to the RIAA, including a reported 36.6 percent year-over-year revenue hike during 2021’s first half. (The organization hasn’t yet released a Latin music analysis for all of 2021, but its year-end report for the wider U.S. market came out last week.)
Additionally, the IFPI’s 2021 breakdown (covering 2020) indicated that Latin America had achieved 15.9 percent music-revenue growth on the year – the highest percentage of any region – and a 30.2 percent YoY jump in streaming income. Brazil remained the largest music market in Latin America, the same source disclosed, and the major labels published a number of press releases in 2021 charting their effort to eliminate “fake stream” operations in the nation of about 213 million residents.
Finally, regarding the majors’ moves to establish a foothold in Latin America’s fast-expanding music space, Sony Music dropped R$1.44 billion (about $250 million at the time, but north of $280 million currently) to acquire Brazil’s Som Livre last April. More recently, Warner Music Group kicked off 2022 by launching Piseiro-focused Brazilian label EH Brasil.