LATIN MUSIC KEEPS GROWING


A CONVERSATION WITH SPOTIFY'S ANTONIO VÁZQUEZ


A year ago, we profiled música Mexicana, an emerging genre some predicted would become the next reggaeton for Spanish-language music in the U.S. Midway into 2023, the genre hasn’t merely experienced rapid growth, it has taken the biz by storm, as música Mexicana acts have dominated the upper reaches of Spotify charts and are already selling out arenas in many markets.

If 2022 was an unprecedented year for Latin music, led by Bad Bunny’s massive tour and album, the first half of 2023 has seen such historic moments as Karol G’s #1 album bow, the explosion of Mexican artists—led by chart-topping newcomer Peso Pluma—and multiple global #1 songs from a number of Latin acts. In the month of June, the five most-streamed songs on Spotify were all Spanish-language tracks: “Ella Baila Sola,” “Peso Pluma: Bzrp Music Sessions: Vol. 55,” “Where She Goes,” “La Bebe (Remix)” and “Un x100to.” This week, Myke Towers’ “LALA” became the seventh Latin song to reach #1 on Spotify global in 2023.

We spoke with Antonio Vázquez, Spotify’s head of U.S. Latin editorial, about the data and trends the editorial team has been monitoring and what’s next for Latin music. Among the impressive numbers Vázquez hit us with in our conversation:

  • Latin music streams on Spotify have increased by almost 170% in the last five years.
  • Latin music within the Spotify Global Top 50 has increased 90% since 2018.
  • In the last five years música Mexicana listening has increased by 450% globally, and today, one in three listeners of Mexican music is from Gen Z.

Have you been surprised by the explosion of música Mexicana this year?

2023 has been a pivotal year for música Mexicana. It just keeps snowballing. Across the industry, I’ve noticed there’s way more investment in the genre than before. They see the size of the música Mexicana audience and they want to be a part of it. In the U.S., 60% of Latinos are of Mexican origin. That’s 37 million Mexican Americans. The purchasing power of this audience has often been overlooked—but not anymore.

We’ve been investing in música Mexicana for about seven years in expectation of the genre’s growth. I was the first editor in Mexico to localize some of the early playlists for the genre at Spotify. It’s incredible to see how popular some of the genre’s playlists are now. We now have over 100 playlists dedicated to the genre. The música Mexicana umbrella covers mariachi, corridos, norteńo, sad sierreńo and so many other subgenres.

How has the Latin audience’s genre preferences changed?

We’ve noticed there is less polarization between urbano and música Mexicana. In the past, most listeners wouldn’t consume the genres together, but now they’ve become immersed as Latin pop culture. We’re seeing that Latin hits are going through a creative renaissance. Latin songs that are ballads, R&B, música Mexicana and reggaeton are all charting. Previously, if a Latin song was charting, there was no doubt it was reggaeton.

What have you noticed in terms of regional consumption trends?

Traditionally non-Latin markets like Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Netherlands, the U.K. and Portugal all have considerable growth in Latin streams. We’ve noticed, especially in Europe, that more people are creating their own Latin playlists, so local editors are getting involved. This expands to India and Japan as well, once again proving that the language barrier is broken.

What Latin artists do you think will make the jump, like Peso Pluma?

Of the acts that I feel like will be next to cross, we’ve been talking a lot about Feid expanding to new markets worldwide. Others on that level are Eslabon Armado, sad sierreńo pioneer Ivan Cornejo, Natanael Cano, Fuerza Regida, Grupo Frontera.

How has the Latin editorial team kept up?

It has been overwhelming. We have been able to invest more in terms of volume of campaigns and playlists and what we offer the Latin community from our platform. It’s helped our flagship "Viva Latino" become the second largest playlist in the world after "Today’s Top Hits."

At the same time, we’re attempting to innovate with Fuego, where Latin fans can create their own mixtapes. On one side we’re trying to represent the demand for hits, and on the other hand we’re engaging with the community to stay in the pulse of Latin music.

Even Daniel Ek himself tweeted in support of Mexican music this year. That must have felt good.

It’s impossible not to talk about Latin music in general market conversations now. It’s cool to see not only my peers but people who have never been exposed to this much Latin music show genuine interest in learning more about it and seeing how they can be part of it. I think it’s healthy for the industry and culture.

What are your expectations for this boom?

I think we’re just getting started. Especially in música Mexicana, there’s way more professionalism than ever before. Teams are leaning into artist development, investment, becoming tech-savvy and really understanding the importance of building a fanbase with strategic marketing. In the past the live aspect was the sole focus—now they see the value of streaming and digital content. We’re seeing how the enhanced education of leveraging data and making wise business decisions is paying off.


Photos top to bottom: BZRP and Peso Pluma on the cover of "Viva Latino"; Antonio Vázquez; Bad Bunny breaking the all-time streaming record for an album; Spotify Latin's Antonella Bocaranda, Stacy Aguilar, Eddie Santiago, Vázquez, Pedro Pincay, Mirella Schnaidman and Maggie Ortiz at Casa Spotify in Puerto Rico

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