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Ricky Martin wasn't introduced to the U.S. as much as he "introduced himself," says Rocco Lanzilotta, who credits a solo performance at the Grammy Awards for the singer's crossover success.

He was already a hit with U.S. Hispanic consumers.

He became a phenom when "Vuelve"-released in February 1998-saw a 600% sales boost following the awards show and just before the release of his most recent album, "Ricky Martin."

"The challenge was now to take the already existing fan base and expand it further," says Mr. Lanzilotta, 39, senior director of creative marketing at Columbia Records.

Mr. Lanzilotta says he signed on when "Vuelve" was launched by Sony Music International and Sony Discos to gain familiarity with the project and learn about Mr. Martin's popularity outside the U.S. Mr. Lanzilotta credits both Sony divisions for "Vuelve's" success in the Hispanic market.

"To go beyond the Hispanic fan-base and develop the Anglo market," Mr. Lanzilotta's effort included TV and print advertising.

"Daily newspapers have a high Latino readership, so we have lots of ads there. We've also been marketing in bus shelters, which are real big with Spanish-speakers," Mr. Lanzilotta says.

Latin music has become highly popular in the U.S. According to SoundScan, U.S. sales of music by Latin artists has increased almost 50% in the first quarter of

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