El Alfa, the Dominican mastermind behind dembow’s growing global fan base, has remained staunchly independent, while becoming wildly successful both in the Latin music scene and in cross-over collaborations with mainstream US artists.
El Alfa has collaborated with a who’s who of Latin, hip hop, and electronic music during the past 2 years, including Major Lazer, Cardi B, Daddy Yankee, Lil Pump, Farruko, J. Balvin, and Bad Bunny.
El Alfa’s profile is set to rise to new heights with his latest album, El Androide, released via his own label El Jefe Records. His music speaks loud and proud global audiences, be it via NY Mets second baseman Robinson Canó’s use of El Androide track “Jalapeño” as his walk-up music or the Shakira’s performance of “Que Calor” (which features El Alfa) at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Traditionally, the next big step for an artist like El Alfa would be a major label deal.
Though major labels came calling, El Alfa knew he could go his own way. He was already lining up star-studded collaborations himself that some A&Rs dream about, generating well over a million plays per day on streaming services, reaching 13 million monthly Spotify listeners, and trending globally on YouTube nearly every time he releases a new video. El Alfa’s confidence in staying independent came in part from his ongoing relationship with CD Baby and its internationally minded Creator Services team.
El Alfa had been using CD Baby for distribution for years and now also works with CD Baby’s sister company, AdRev, for YouTube claiming and channel management. CD Baby’s team watched his meteoric rise and knew they could help him keep and boost his momentum. Argentina-based CD Baby International team member Juan Nuñez works closely with El Alfa and Latin teams at streaming services, demonstrating the artist services company’s regionally savvy ways of expanding the options for Latin artists and other artists regionally.
Jon Bahr, VP of Business Development & Licensing at AVL Digital, CD Baby’s parent entity:
“CD Baby launched Creator Services in early 2018 to identify emerging artists using CD Baby and help them manage their growth, as well as engage our streaming service partners around their releases. Around the same time, we also launched and grew the CD Baby International Team of 15 people globally with a concentration across Latin America. El Alfa’s releases show what the combined efforts of these teams can accomplish.
“Juan Nuñez has been driving the streaming service marketing of El Androide in concert with CD Baby Creator Services and our label services sister company DashGo, creating a successful unified global promotional team supporting El Alfa.”
Thanks to this tight collaboration, El Alfa’s album El Androide got deserved promotion and love from various key music streaming services, including high visibility on key playlists, on-platform promotions, an interview on Apple Beats 1 radio and outdoor advertising support via Spotify’s Times Square billboard. It’s the kind of promotional splash that independent artists are capable of making today, when the music is strong and they have the right support.
The big push on the promotional side matches the album’s ambitions. El Alfa hopes to open up dembow – the Domician Republic’s infectious answer to reggaeton and dancehall beats – to a wider global audience beyond Latin urban music with El Androide.
Working with established songwriters/producers like longtime collaborator Chael Produciendo and up-and-coming Dominican producers, he lets dembow dance with other Latin sounds like cumbia, corridos, lambada, as well as cosmopolitan club vibes from techno to hip hop. The several singles already released have racked up a million streams.
“There’s no limit to what independent artists can do, if they have the right tools, the right people working with them and are using best-in-class-services like ours,” notes Bahr. “We’ve built our entire model around what will serve artists best across different client types so that they have a home at each stage of their career and service needs.”