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Fania Records Celebrates 50 Years From NYC Street Sales To Global Digital Distribution

Fania-summer-stageI have to say I was delighted to discover that Fania Records is not only back in business but is again going strong. Last time I checked their CDs were in short supply and the company was in probate court. Acquired in 2005 by Emusica and then sold to Codigo Music in 2008, a revived Fania Records navigated a few years of strong CD sales and then was forced to transition to a primarily digital output. That transition was successful and Fania Records is now on Spotify, planning their SummerStage 50th anniversary celebrations, "signing new artists, and opening up their archives to a series of DJs to create remix albums."

Fania Records was founded in 1964 in New York and became the premiere label for Salsa music. Though it's rarely discussed in the music coverage I see, this means they would also have been part of the intense Latin dance scene in New York that eventually spread around the world and ultimately became an important element in their recent revival.

A Brief History of Fania Records

image from upload.wikimedia.orgFania has a rich history that features the Fania All-Stars, a ensemble that might best be described as a supergroup of Latin musicians.

Fast Company takes a look at the business of Fania Records with special attention to the recent revival.

Bought by Emusica in 2005 with Morgan Stanley's help, the new owners discovered a treasure trove of lost masters including many unreleased albums. The team rebuilt Fania, including getting back on top of licensing and royalties, and enjoyed a few years of physical album sales before selling to Codigo Music. Codigo also bought West Side Latino and so a mighty catalog is now in play.

As they moved to digital downloads they had real concerns about their traditional audience. However Michael Rucker, who came on with Emusica and continued with Codigo, revealed:

"We found ways to reach markets we never would’ve thought about. We started finding there were dancers in France and Japan, enthusiasts in Mexico and other places like Croatia and Estonia, who we simply weren’t able to reach in the physical world because it’s so cost-prohibitive."

For their 50th anniversary celebrations, they're combining digital and physical with such efforts as the first Latin music app for Spotify and Summer Stage shows in New York.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY biz or marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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