The following op/ed comes from Russ Crupnick, Managing Partner of marketing research and industry analysis firm MusicWatch.
On November 18 the music community celebrated the Latin Grammys.
In an era where music and movie award shows are experiencing cataclysmic declines in viewership, the Latin Grammys belted one out of the park.
According to numbers just released by Univision, the telecast garnered 5.9 million viewers, an 11% increase over last year and the best audience since 2014.
By contrast the March Grammy telecast audience declined by 53%, VMA viewership was off 50% and the CMA Awards dropped nearly 40% of watchers since 2019.
If you were watching US revenue trends for the Latin genre, or following music fans, this surge would not be a surprise. Latin is the fastest growing genre in the US, and fan engagement is much stronger than for music in general.
It wasn’t always like that. If you grew up in the 60’s dad might have played Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema” on the “hi-fi”. Santana’s Oye Como Va was the rare Latin influenced rock song; it was actually penned by Tito Puente.
Our daughters raged on Shakira’s Laundry Service CDs, which sold over 13 million units worldwide. But these were outliers who didn’t change our fundamental listening habits.
With the advent of streaming, social media and video platforms, all that has changed.
Let’s examine the data more closely. Over the past two years US revenues for recorded music in the Latin genre have grown by a whopping 63%(comparing 1H ’21 to 1H’19).
The bulk of growth is coming from streaming. In the past, artists relied on radio which curated a highly selective and limited playlist. Whether you prefer rap or rock or dance, streaming platforms serve music from a more diverse stable of artists, across countries, cultures and languages.
“Whether you prefer rap or rock or dance, streaming platforms serve music from a more diverse stable of artists, across countries, cultures and languages.”
As Michelle Ballantyne of the RIAA recently noted “there’s a rising openness to new artists, music and ways of listening… with younger fans now spending 20% off their time listening in languages other than English”. With the globalization of streaming record labels have been able to invest in introducing Latin artists to the US and other territories with much more economy than in CD days.
Social media apps make it easier than ever to reach Latin fans or to make new ones. Eight of ten Latin fans used a social platform to interact with music artists, and 50% used TikTok to watch dance videos or follow a music artist.
As one senior Latin Music executive at a streaming company put it: “We are finally seeing the enormous global influence of Latin American music consumption and buying power” That is so right. Based on a recent analysis of MusicWatch data conducted on behalf of Digital Media Association (DiMA), we learned that:
- Over 90% of Latin listeners are music streamers. Six in ten pay for an audio service including pure-play services, music from Amazon Prime or satellite radio. They are more likely to use free internet radio and much more likely to use on-demand services.
- The average Latin fan spends 30% more on music, including recorded music, streaming subscriptions, merchandise, and tickets.
- Latin fans listen to 20% more music in an average week than non-fans. They stream 6.4 hours in an average week, 28% more than those who do not listen to the Latin genre.
That enthusiasm for music listening transcends the US. According to the IFPI 18 hours each week is spent listening to music; in Mexico listening hours rise to 26 weekly, 25 hours in Brazil, and 23 in Argentina.
It’s easy to ascribe these trends to the growing Hispanic and Latin populations in the US. There’s some truth to that, but 41% of Latin music fans don’t affiliate with Hispanic ethnicity. Streaming has opened the door to these audiences and helped to unlock the value that we see in the revenue numbers.
Are the Latin Grammy’s really the “big moment” for the genre? Consider this last bit of research. In the US, one in six over the age of 13 identify as Hispanic.
The 2021 Latin Grammy audience attracted 5.9 million viewers. The 2021 Grammy Awards telecast attracted 8.8 million viewers. “Eso es loco”. Music Business Worldwide