Dimitrios Kambouris / VMN19 / Getty Images / MTV – Latin Leading Light
Rosalía shone bright at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Aug. 26. Schooled in traditional Flamenco style, Rosalía’s groundbreaking sophomore album, El Mal Querer¸ showed that Spanish-speaking artists can achieve international stardom at a rate previously unheard of.
2019 has been full of power moves in the Latin concert industry, and momentum is only building heading into 2020.
Most notably, Live Nation acquired a controlling interest in OCESA Entretenimiento and Ticketmaster Mexico from CIE and Grupo Televisa.
OCESA/CIE was the largest promoter in Mexico and the fifth-largest promoter in the world in 2018, with 3.8 million sold tickets reported. Ticketmaster Mexico is the largest event ticketer in Mexico, selling 37 million tickets annually. The deal also brought OCESA Seitrack, the booking and artist management joint venture, and corporate event specialist CREA under the Live Nation umbrella.
“The OCESA/CIE acquisition extends the footprint of what Michael [Rapino] has already been doing across the world. We’ve been creating a global company that allows acts to reach their fans in all corners of the earth,” Hans Schafer, head of Live Nation Latin, told Pollstar. “The territory is definitely ripe to continue to grow and OCESA/CIE is the natural partner for us.”
Live Nation Latin was founded in 2017 to boost the promoter’s Latin footprint in North America and Puerto Rico. Over the past two years the company has dedicated attention to Latin, handling tours from the likes of Maná, Jennifer Lopez, Romeo Santos, Luis Miguel, Residente and J Balvin in clubs, theatres, amphitheaters, arenas and, in the case of Santos, even stadiums, packing an estimated 85,000 into MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N. J., Sept. 21. That makes him the first Latin artist to headline the stadium, where organizers say the gross broke a record for a single-night event.
While promoting behemoths like Live Nation and AEG are still pivoting into the Latin market, independent promoters continue to thrive.
North American Latin powerhouse promoter Henry Cardenas, founder and CEO of Cardenas Marketing Network, previously told Pollstar that ever since the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster was approved he has gone from sleeping eight hours a night to four, and he has been constantly dealing with attempts to poach his clients as new players enter the space.
Still, CMN remains a force to be reckoned with, as the company’s North American tours over the past decade include Marc Anthony, Maluma, Bad Bunny, Ozuna, Nicky Jam, Becky G, Banda MS, Pepe Aguilar, Sech, Justin Quiles, Darkiel and others.
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CMN announced in July that it will own and operate the 24,000-capacity Arena Bogotá in Colombia, scheduled to open in 2020. The purchase was estimated at a value of $35 million. The Colombian market has proven to be a key incubator during the recent explosion of Latin music, Schafer said, and Argentina – which is the home of AEG’s brand-new Buenos Aires Arena – may be next.
Move Concerts, which boasts of being the largest independent concert promoter in South America, announced last month its partnership with U.S.-based entertainment, sports and marketing company Loud And Live to expand the company’s footprint in North America. Move Concerts already has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, and the new partnership not only adds Loud And Live’s tour production capabilities but will offer international sponsorship opportunities.
Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez said at the time the deal was announced: “I have full respect for what Nelson [Albareda, Loud And Live CEO] has built over the years, and for his drive and vision. He’s building a great team and we share the same ethos – quality before quantity.”
Of course, when there is money to be made, expect more comers to try to get a piece of the action. Billionaire Haim Saban announced in July he would invest $500 million into a new Latin-focused label, Saban Music Group, to focus on international artist develop within a 360 model. The label is headed by Gustavo Lopez, former head of UMG Latin and whose Talento Uno label and management company was acquired by Saban.
Johnny Nunez / WireImage – Romeo, Oh Romeo
MetLife Stadium was Bachata central on Sept. 21 when Romeo Santos came in to pack the Newark, N.J., stadium. Organizers boasted an estimated attendance of 85,000 at the show, putting the King Of Bachata in the same league as titans like U2 and Taylor Swift.
The boom in Latin music can be correlated with the swell of new artists. Live Nation Latin’s Schafer tells Pollstar that as more artists record music in these countries, you are starting to see artists – notably more female artists – emerge onto the world stage that have never previously had a path out of their own local markets.
One Spanish-language artists bursting onto the world stage in 2019 is Rosalía, whose latest album, El Mal Querer, delighted critics and fans around the world with its blend of electronic and pop influences and her deep understanding of flamenco. And, thanks in part to features with the likes of J Balvin and Ozuna, her profile has skyrocketed. She won two Latin Grammys for the single “Malamente” last year, and this year she is up for five more.
The singer performed at awards shows and in 2019 shone at festivals including Lollapaloozas in North and South America, Mad Cool, Rock Werchter, Red Bull Music Academy, and Coachella. She has headline dates in Europe planned in December, including a gig at the WiZink Center arena in Madrid.
“I think we’re living in one of the greatest moments in history for Latin artists, having a platform they have never had before,” Schafer said. “It’s a bit overwhelming to see the amount of new acts that come out on a weekly basis, but it’s exciting.”
“Seeing an artist like Rosalía that has traditional roots in flamenco, having transformed that into her own art and having the impact she has had in such a short time, that’s an indicator of what we can expect to see from other acts in the next few years. She is opening the door for others to have their own self-expression and to create their own path – and to be extremely popular and successful at the same time.”
Latin music consumption has always been more difficult to monitor for traditional institutions like Nielsen Soundscan, but the last decade has shown there is huge demand for Spanish-language music of various styles. At press time, five of YouTube’s Top 10 global artists for its music chart dated Oct. 25-31 were Latin artists. With a huge global audience, there will be more opportunities for up-and-coming artists to tour than ever before.
Cardenas told Pollstar earlier this year that a key strategy for CMN is to invest in developing younger artists so there is a steady flow of talent and there isn’t a lull similar to what was experienced in salsa and merengue in previous generations.
As Latin music grows, look for more and more of its artists to cross over not only in radio singles and tours with English-speaking artists, but also on big screens. Ozuna – who can be heard rapping in Spanish alongside Cardi B and Selena Gomez on DJ Snake’s “Taki Taki” – will star in “Fast & Furious 9” alongside Vin Diesel in 2020. Ozuna has an album due out in late November and his live numbers are the real deal: a show at Hallenstadion Zurich in Switzerland on June 28 sold 12,141 tickets and grossed $1,035,778.
So where does it go from here? Schafer says Live Nation and the rest of the industry aren’t even close to finishing committing resources into developing infrastructure for the global Latin music industry.
“I think that we’re just seeing the beginning of what’s to come for Latin music on a global scale in terms of concerts and markets that were not traditionally viewed as Latin hubs or places that have Latin fans.
“I’m talking about Latin having impact in Turkey, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Slovenia. The hard ticket business in Europe is just starting to come together.
“The European festival circuits have been key anchors for these acts to reach audiences. [Soon] a lot of people will be more aware of the hard ticket business Latin acts can have in these non-traditional territories.”