La Explosión Latina Es Real: 2022’s Banner Year For Live Latin Music

LA MÚSICA ES EL VERDADERO LENGUAJE UNIVERSAL: Wisin & Yandel rock the 45K fans who turned out each day for the debut Sueños Festival in Chicago’s Grant Park May 29-30. Photo by Frankie Vergar Courtesy Baja Beach Fest/Audible Treats

The power of the U.S.’s massive Latin market is nothing new. According to 2020 Census data, there are some 62.1 million Hispanics living in the U.S. representing 19% of the total U.S. population. For decades, artists such as Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and others have drawn massive audiences making the upper echelons of Pollstar’s touring charts. Still, for all the decades of successful Latin touring in the U.S., we had yet to see a year for live Latin music like 2022.

First, and most obviously, Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio; that is the 28-year-old phenom known as Bad Bunny. While No. 3 on Pollstar’s Q3 charts, that was well before his aptly named “World’s Hottest Tour,” had taken off with only three of his 30 stadium dates. With 27 more stadium shows post-Q3, his gross for the touring year could reach $400 million, making him only the second artist to achieve that after Ed Sheeran, who set the single-year touring records in 2018. 

“The rise and demand for Latin music worldwide are undeniable, and we are thankful to be a part of this journey alongside Benito and everyone involved,” Hans Schafer, SVP of Global Touring at Live Nation, told Pollstar in October after Bad Bunny set a two-night record at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. It’s not, however, just Bad Bunny who in the last year has raised the Latin touring bar. 

Karol G’s “$trip Love Tour,” which wrapped in Vancouver on Oct. 29, is now the all-time highest grossing U.S. tour by a Latin female artist, with $66.7 million grossed from 378,086 tickets sold at 30 U.S. arena shows (see Boxoffice Insider, page 17). The tour included stops at Miami’s FTX Arena ($4.65 million over two shows); Dallas’ American Airlines Arena ($2.8M); and NYC’s Madison Square Garden ($2.1M).

The inextricable link between acclaimed recorded music and live success is on full display among 2022’s Latin Grammy artist nominees (here). This year’s top five artist nominees, Bad Bunny (10 nominations), Rosalía (8), Rauw Alejandro (8), Jorge Drexler (8) and Christina Aguilera (7), have collectively generated hundreds of millions of dollars in gross revenue. 

There’s also more veteran artists doing better than ever. Witness Daddy Yankee, the 45-year-old Reggaeton progenitor who is on his farewell “La Última Vuelta World Tour posting wildly impressive numbers. 

While he grossed $4.9 million over two shows at FTX Arena and $2.5M at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, his grosses in South America are jaw-dropping: like $19.4M over three nights in September at Santiago’s Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos and $8.3M over two nights at Lima’s Estadio Nacional.

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EL MUNDO DE LA CONEJITO MALO: Bad Bunny’s two shows at SoFi Stadium on Sept. 30 and Oct 1. set an all-time record for a two-show concert gross by a solo headliner with a mammoth $31M box office haul at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Photo by Steve Thrasher / SoFi Stadium

This week’s Latin Grammys issue cover artist, Marco Antonio Solís (see here), is well deserving of 2022’s Latin Grammy Person of the Year honors. The runaway touring success of a reunited Los Bukis, the band he co-founded in the mid-’70s, did astronomical business. In the fall of last year, the tour grossed a staggering $13.8 million over two shows at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium; $13.1M over two nights at Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum; and $9.35M for two Chicago Soldier Field plays. 

With 2022’s numbers yet in the books, its informative to look at Pollstar’s 2021’s Year-End Chart, on which Latin artists were well represented. Grupo Firme, the aforementioned Los Bukis and Maluma reached No. 6, No. 12 and No. 19, respectively.  Grupo Firme, had a record-setting run at Arena in April with their seven shows bringing in a whopping $7M. 

Previous generations filled out the chart, including: Enrique Iglesias/Rick Martin at No. 15, Aventura at No. 24, Alejandro Fernandez No. 32, Pepe Aguilar No. 33 and Marc Anothony No. 38. 

Latin music festivals are nothing new, but some are hitting new gears. In 2022, the promoters behind the Baja Beach Fest, Aaron Ampudia and Chris Den Uijl, debuted Sueños Festival in Chicago’s Grant Park on May 29-30. Working with C3 Presents, the event saw 45,000 fans a day with headliners Ozuna, Farruko, J Balvin and Wisin & Yandel. Next year’s already lined up for May 27-28.  (Chicago also debuted the Más Flow fest with Ivy Queen, Don Omar and CNCO.) 

Meanwhile, Dodger Stadium will host the upcoming Bèsame Mucho festival Dec. 3 featuring an iconic multigenerational lineup of Latin artists across “Rockero,” “Las Clasicas,” and “Te Gusta El Pop!” stages. 

This includes Juanes, Los Tigres Del Norte, Caifanes, Café Tacvba, Ramon Ayala, Julieta Venegas and more. The festival sold out in 70 minutes. The week after, Dec. 10-11, the third annual Vibra Urbana hits the Miami Dade County Fair & Expo grounds with a stellar line-up featuring Maluma, J. Balvin, Don Omar and Nicky Jam. Billing itself as the “Biggest Reggaeton Fest in the U.S.,” the festival debuted in February 2020 and has since expanded to include Las Vegas and Orlando. 

While the touring data throughout this issue quantifies the exploding Latin live market, it doesn’t quite paint the whole picture. In September, I had the privilege of seeing Bad Bunny at SoFi Stadium. 

It was packed to the gills with wildly enthusiastic fans, many dressed in beachwear, singing every lyric, dancing throughout and some literally crying they were so overcome with joy. It’s harder, if not impossible, to quantify that passion and joy Bad Bunny and all these artists generate; but, if one could, it would be off the charts.