After the Grammy Gala, a great debate is being generated about one of the great current topics in the World Music Industry: The growth of Latin music and with it, its social analysis, its representation and its global consideration.
Last year we already experienced an event that awakened an air of change in this renowned event: Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” became the first Spanish-language album in the history of the Academy to be nominated for the overall album of the year category. Although it did not win (the award went to Harry Styles for his album “Harry’s House”) the fact that an all-Spanish project was nominated in such an important category was perceived as a new route for these U.S. awards.
However, the disappointment is palpable when we realize that this year, despite having artists who have had an almost excellent career throughout 2023, the same thing has not happened and we have found that no Latin artist has been nominated for the four most important categories of the Grammys: best album, recording, song or new artist.
Moreover, for many it was a surprise that an artist like Peso Pluma, who has had a very striking exponential growth throughout the year, was not nominated for best new artist (he reached the Top 1 worldwide on Spotify with his song with Eslabon Armado “Ella Baila Sola”, surpassing “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus). The prestigious Rolling Stone media has not been shy in its opinion and considers that “by leaving him out of the awards in the general categories, they are not only snubbing an artist, but discarding a whole wave of new talent that is changing the music scene”.
Even so, the Grammys did echo his success by naming him the winner with his album “Genesis” in the Best Regional Mexican Album category, a genre that, according to the 2023 Luminate report, has been the revelation of the year with a 60% increase in U.S. streams of this style. Latin music continues to expand to new listeners, only, thanks to breakthrough artists like Peso Pluma, this growth has been through other genres beyond urban music.
In the end, it is the audience that determines the next direction of the industry. In recent years, we have seen how Latin talents have emerged and positioned themselves among the most listened artists on Spotify. Examples include J Balvin reaching the fourth position globally in 2018 and Bad Bunny reaching the fifth position in 2019. A year later, both singers rose to the top of the list, demonstrating the growing influence of music from Latin America.
It is Luminate’s report that tells us, with data, how this audience growth has persisted into last year: the number of non-Spanish-speaking listeners in the U.S. who enjoy Spanish-language music doubled compared to 2021 (8.1% vs. 4.3%).
We often forget that the greatest representation of Latin music is its own artists. We could see it in the Louis Vuitton Men’s FW 2023 fashion show, where Rosalía not only made a presentation with some of her songs in Spanish, but also lent space for other types of genres within the language, such as flamenco (Bulerías de la Perla – Camarón De La Isla) or dembow (AIO – Angel Dior), the latter being a style that was born in the Dominican Republic and is now beginning to spread to other territories.
This fact coincides precisely with data on the consumption habits of the new generations. According to this year’s Luminate report, 63% of Generation Z and 65% of Millennials agree that they ‘listen to new music to experience new cultures and perspectives’. A fact that does nothing more than eliminate borders and open a range of new possibilities to any artist, regardless of the genre or language used in their works.
For all this, although this year’s gala felt lacking in Latin essence when compared to the previous one, where we witnessed Taylor Swift dancing full of energy while Bad Bunny opened the 65th Grammys, if we look at it in perspective it is undeniable that Latin music continues to grow, in different forms and contexts thanks to its artists and its audience, which will culminate in a widening of the recognition space for its representatives, sounds and culture.