Freebie sparks sales for Si+Se

Si+Se is not an established band, and its members do not receive mainstream Latin radio airplay and are not regulars on the Latin TV show circuit, but four months after the release of its album More Shine, the New York-based quintet came, seemingly out of nowhere, to land at No. 48 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart.

The Fuerte/MOB/Fontana release features an eclectic mix of feel-good pop, electronica, and funk anchored by female vocals.

The chart showing this week, which marks the Billboard chart debut for Fuerte Records, underscores the increasing importance on nontraditional marketing for Latin music. Si+Se's chart boost was pushed along by a tactic common in the mainstream: the offer of a free digital track.

The group's new single, "More Shine," was iTunes' free download for the week ending January 8. According to distributor Fontana, the lure of a free track resulted in 231,000 downloads of the song. That's substantial exposure for a band with limited radio airplay.

The result was nearly 2,000 copies sold in one week of the album, with the bulk of those sales coming from iTunes.

"It demonstrates that people are really reacting to the song," Fuerte principal Rich Isaacson says. Because Si+Se's music is hard to classify--some call it world, others electronica or Latin--"it doesn't fit into any niche, which is a challenge," he adds. "Now we have a story to tell. Get people exposed to the music, and they will buy it."

Si+Se's 2001 debut on Luaka Bop sold more than 30,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Si+Se will perform new single "Amiga" on the February 14 episode of CBS show Love Monkey. That same week, "Amiga" will be offered as a free download on walmart.com.

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