When Latin pop singer Prince Royce was born in the late ’80s, the sounds of guitar-driven, Dominican-rooted bachata helped soundtrack the Bronx streets around him. Since the release of his eponymous debut in 2010, Royce has reigned as one of the most successful Latin artists around, infusing his bachata beginnings with pop and R&B. He’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records for spending 29 consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Tropical Airplay chart with his 2020 hit, "Carita de Inocente.”
“There’s a combination of things that make a success,” says Royce, who joins Spotify for Artists host Kim Taylor Bennett on our Best Advice podcast. “It’s kind of like trial and error. You keep rolling the dice, you’ll get that number that you want. But you’ve got to keep rolling it. If you stop rolling it, you’re out of the game.”
Experimenting musically, taking advice from the people around him, and educating himself about the business have been among some of his keys to his evolution from selling self-recorded CDs of his early music in the Bronx to rising to the top and working alongside heroes like Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, and Jennifer Lopez.
Listen to his full episode here, and read on for some of his main takeaways.
“In the beginning, you don’t know about publishing, you don’t know about a record deal, you don’t know about masters,” he says. “And that’s all the stuff I learned on the way.”
But by asking questions, Royce came to understand the intricacies of music accounting. “Like, ‘OK, we sold 300,000 albums… Where’d this money go? How much are you investing? How much have you spent?’” he says, reflecting on making his first album. “There were private jets that we’re getting on, that I was like, ‘OK, who is paying for this private jet?’ You end up finding out, hold on, you’re paying for this jet, but you’re not paying for it now. You’re paying for it later. But if I would’ve known that, maybe I wouldn’t have taken that jet.”
“I don't want to say well, don't trust anybody, you know? I think it's just [about] educating yourself.”
Experiment With New Sounds
Prince Royce is first and foremost a bachata artist, but he is also happy to push the boundaries of the genre in the interest of artistic creativity.
“I think it’s important to listen to other things outside of your genre that could also influence you like, ‘What would happen if I took that type of sound and put it with bachata or something like that?’ We added violins to my first album; that was something unheard of within bachata. My second album we did ‘Incondicional,’ which had mariachi within bachata. That’s unheard of to add Mexican vibes into a very Dominican type of rhythm. ‘Darte un Beso’ was like ukulele reggae vibes within bachata.”
“If someone doesn’t exist in the genre that you do, that’s when you got something special,” he continues. “People don’t want to hear another person like your favorite artist, because they already have that favorite artist. Especially nowadays with the streaming platforms that we have. We could go on Spotify and find something from another country and see what’s poppin’ over there in the Top 10. That’s not a luxury I had before.”
Listen to the Experts Around You – Like J.Lo
Royce laughs, recalling a piece of advice once given to him by Jennifer Lopez, who he collaborated with on the song “Back It Up.” “She said, ‘Take your shirt off. The girls like that,’” he chuckles. “For real, I wasn’t taking my shirt off until J.Lo told me to… J.Lo has the showmanship. I took a lot of things from J.Lo, actually, because I spent a lot of time with her, personal and work-wise. And it’s like ‘Give the people what they want here.’ When I first started, I was scrawny. I’m still skinny. But it’s like, ‘Oh word? The girls like the shirt off? Let’s go!’”