Alán Hensley, Product Manager at EMPIRE Latino | Berklee Valencia Campus

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Alán Hensley, Product Manager at EMPIRE Latino

Alán Hensley - Photo by Jonas Sung

“Berklee Valencia helped me broaden my perspective on the global marketplace.” - Alán Hensley M.A.’15

For Alán Hensley M.A.’15, Berklee Valencia’s Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program was the stepping stone he needed to direct his career towards the business field he felt passionate about. After receiving a B.S. in business administration, arts and entertainment, and marketing from the Eberhardt School of Business—University of the Pacific, he started working as a digital marketer for a medical technology company. However, he didn't feel that this was his calling and sought a change, which brought him to Valencia. 

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in Berklee’s global entertainment and music business program at the Valencia campus?

I chose to do this because music, and the business around it, had always been something I was passionate about growing up. After reading about the program, I was sold and knew this was exactly what I needed to do. 

What are the most important lessons that you’ve learned at Berklee?

I learned how big the scope of the music business is globally. Having grown up in the United States, what I interpreted as the music business market was what I saw at home. When I came to Berklee Valencia, I quickly learned how the industry expands beyond Hollywood, and I learned that almost every market has its own qualities to learn. It broadened my perspective on the global marketplace.

What have you been up to since graduating from Berklee Valencia in 2015?

I moved to the in San Francisco Bay Area and applied what I learned to my business venture, Plural Music, an events and DJ management company that I started with some college friends. Our company was still very much in the startup phase, which led me to get a job working at Square for their cash app department to supplement my income. During this time, I was linked with Joey Seiler, legal counsel at EMPIRE, by program director Emilien Moyon. He mentioned that there was a position open to help run EMPIRE’s burgeoning Latin music department, and he suggested I apply. 

Since 2017, you’ve worked as product manager for EMPIRE Latino, EMPIRE’s Latin music division. What does your job involve, and what aspects do you enjoy the most?

My official title is product manager, artists and repertoire (A&R). As product manager, I run the daily operations of EMPIRE Latino. This includes taking final projects from the studio to market in the most successful way possible, while coordinating all the people that are involved in the middle to launch a smooth album or single rollout. I also work on business development by strengthening relationships with our industry partners at places like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc., and by forging new partnerships. I work on marketing the EMPIRE Latino brand as a whole by throwing marquee events like our Casa Urbana series, which we organize at the Latin Grammys and the Billboard Latin Music Awards. As for A&R, I concentrate on discovering the next generation of artists that will lead the Latin music industry. My favorite part is working with an artist from the early stages of their career and then watching them blossom into stars and champions of their genre. 

How important is the Latino division for EMPIRE?

I started right before the explosion of Latin music in the U.S. via “Despacito” and “Mi gente.” EMPIRE has actually worked with Latino artists from the very early days, but it wasn’t until I was brought on that we doubled our efforts in the market, knowing there was a big opportunity. 

Working for one of the most sought after labels/distributors gives you a privileged view on the industry. From a music business perspective, where are companies heading, and what models will succeed in the years to come?

I believe the future of the music industry will be dictated by technological trends, which already influence how music is consumed today. Most recently, we’re seeing newer social media platforms like TikTok break records through digital phenomenons such as viral “challenges.” These are things many of us wouldn’t have foreseen just a year or two ago. Companies should work to stay at the forefront of these trends by constantly exploring the new platforms or technologies that are released and measuring their potential to be effective tools to add to the marketing mix. The key is to avoid staying rigid in the way you roll out a project. What may have worked one year ago may not work today.