Latin music is taking over the world

“Despacito” helped bring Latin music to a wider audience, and new artists are taking the genre to new heights.

Credit: Peathegee Inc / Getty Images

Until losing its title to the utterly unstoppable “Baby Shark,” the music video for “Despacito” was the most-viewed video on YouTube.

The Luis Fonsi track (featuring Daddy Yankee and the Biebs) is the biggest example of a Latin track going mainstream, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A new batch of superstars are taking Latin music global and have the genre projected to make $1B in the US this year, per Music Business Worldwide.

Latin music…

pulled in $886m in the US in 2021, up 35% YoY. The vast majority of that revenue came from streaming, largely thanks to a couple big names:

  • Bad Bunny: The Puerto Rican rapper was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2021 for the second year in a row
  • J Balvin: The Colombian singer known as the “Prince of Reggaeton” was the seventh most-streamed artist in 2021

Up-and-comers Rauw Alejandro (12th) and Myke Towers (18th) cracked the top 20 as well, signaling a bright future for the genre.

“Despacito”…

played a pivotal role in pushing Latin music forward. Analysts cite a “post-‘Despacito’” effect on the Billboard Hot 100, which has resulted in:

  • More collaborations, with many mainstream acts now seeking features from Latin artists
  • Artists embracing their Latin roots, like Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello, who both released recent projects with Spanish-language tracks

These factors helped three Latin music genres — Latin, Trap Latino, and Reggaeton — crack Spotify’s global top 20 in 2021.

So, what’s next?

The genre’s success has resulted in some big shifts on the festival circuit. The number of Latin music acts at Coachella doubled between 2020 and 2022, and a wave of new Latin-specific festivals has emerged to meet demand.

Despite all its growth, Latin music only accounted for 5.91% of US music industry market share in 2021, meaning there’s still plenty of room to grow.

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