Indie Labels

Horacio Rodríguez of WK Records on a year of successes

In the waking of the career-stalling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, mega manager Walter Kolm opted to switch gears and create his own label, WK Records. Here, label CEO Horacio Rodríguez discusses the label’s impressively successful year.

Guest post by Haley Warner of The Orchard’s The Daily Rind

When mega manager Walter Kolm’s star acts saw their careers  sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, he shifted his focus and launched his own label, WK Records. Using his management expertise and meticulous guidance, Kolm built WK Records to serve as an incubator for rising urban talent. Now one year since its inception, WK Records’s success is undeniable, with smash hits such as “Fiel” by Wisin, Los Legendarios, and Jhay Cortez reaching No.1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay alongside other WK Records releases like “Mi Niña (Remix).” Building upon this rapid success, Kolm not only launched a new label dedicated to the regional Mexican market (WKMX), he also appointed Horacio Rodríguez as WK Records’ new CEO and WK Entertainment’s new head of music. Rodríguez, whose previous role was Senior VP of marketing for Universal Music Latin’s pop and urban labels, now leads both Kolm’s growing label and music division of WK Entertainment, which includes management, branding, and booking divisions. We spoke with Rodriguez about his new role at WK Records as well as his vision for the future of the rising label. 

Tell us about the mission behind WK Records.

WK Records is a Miami-based music company designed to deliver best-in-class services for artists seeking to work in an independent ecosystem, yet, require the support and expertise of an international label and experienced music executives. We pride ourselves in our team/partners spread throughout the US and key Latin-American countries as well as their ability to deliver tailor-made solutions for our artists.

Our core is Latin music and our ambition is to bring it to a global audience. 

WK Records serves as an incubator for rising talent. What do you look for when signing new artists to the WK Records family?

We are constantly looking for artists with extraordinary talent and from all walks of life who are driven to tell their story, deliver great music and pave their own lane in the music industry. Our key to success and most important quality we seek when entering into a business relationship is for the artist (and team) to view WK Records as their extended family and a partner in their journey.

A Year of Success With WK Records

What musical trends are you following right now?  

We are paying close attention to the diversification of Latin music and Reggaeton into other sub-genres of pop, urban and tropical music. A testament of this is WK Records artist Cheo Gallego with “El Anciano Y El Niño,” a Latin hip-hop song with a hint of conscious rap that recently went viral globally on Spotify and Shazam and has quadrupled in consumption since early August.

We are also very proud of our Regional Mexican division (WKMX) and their ability to be the first to identify a nascent movement of ‘corridos tumbados’ artists outside of Mexico and the United States and for becoming the first record label to sign international artists in this genre; starting in Colombia with Gael Morantes who released his first single “Oveja Negra” on Sept 17.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while operating WK Records? 

Flexibility in the operation of the company and our business models are paramount. We must leave old habits behind and adapt to change quickly in order to provide the best service for our artists.

Where do you see WK Records 5 years from now…10 years from now? 20 years from now?! 

Our vision for the future is for WK Records to become a Latin music powerhouse and a leading player in the music industry; home to many global superstars and developing artists alike. Our goal in the long-term is to expand our reach into new content verticals and technologies while always conserving our independent spirit.

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