The Year in Latin: Una Revolución Cultural

2022 Latin Live Market Explodes!

Karol G’s “$trip Love Tour” made history this year as the highest-grossing U.S. tour for a female Latin concert headliner. She’s pictured performing at Arena on Oct. 22 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images)

Bad Bunny is stealing all the year-end headlines, and deservedly so, as the Puerto Rican star shattered records with his “World’s Hottest Tour,” but he’s not the only face behind what has been a momentous year for Latin artists.

Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Grupo Firme and Rosalía are also spearheading the cultural revolution in the music industry and commanding the box office. Latin acts dominated Pollstar’s 2022 chart year with 22 of them placing among the top 200. Bad Bunny far and away led the pack with $393.4 million grossed, while Daddy Yankee’s last world tour, “La Última Vuelta,” generated $144.1 million, placing the King of Reggaeton No. 8 on the list.

See: Bad Bunny Sets All-Time Touring Record Grossing $435M In A Calendar Year

Karol G also had an impressive showing, raking in more than $97.2 million and finishing No. 17 on the year-end chart. Her “$trip Love Tour” was one for the history books, becoming the highest-grossing U.S. tour ever for a female Latin concert headliner.

Music executives aren’t shocked to see such figures as industry metrics are finally catching up to the national population data. According to the 2020 Census, there are more than 62.1 million Hispanics living in the U.S., which represents nearly 19% of the population.

“It doesn’t show any signs of slowing down because our numbers are there, our demographics are there,” Bruno Del Granado, head of Creative Artists Agency’s Latin music touring division, tells Pollstar. “We are by far the largest minority.”

Del Granado has witnessed the sleeping giant that is Latin music for decades. He says the current wave of attention toward Latin artists is the biggest since 1999 when Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, both of whom he has worked with, burst onto the scene. Latin music returned to prominence in a big way with Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” in 2017, and la música continued to ride that momentum, launching it into never-before-seen heights this year.

“I wouldn’t say a cultural revolution is happening now,” Hans Schafer, SVP of Global Touring at Live Nation, tells Pollstar. “The cultural revolution has been happening for years. Since I was a child and I was growing up, it’s been simmering, se ha estado cociendo (it’s been cooking) for all these years, and now we’re seeing the fruit’s bearing.”

We’re certainly seeing it in a big way with a diverse roster of artists on the Pollstar chart, which includes ’70s supergroup Los Bukis and ’90s Mexican pop icon Gloria Trevi.

However, one of the most eye-opening trends in Latin music is the continuous rise of the genre known as Regional Mexican. Grupo Firme was the top Regional Mexican act this year and grossed $80.1 million over 28 shows, ranking No. 22 on the Worldwide Tours chart.
Such figures could cause yet another seismic shift in the music industry and give executives hope for the near future with or without Bad Bunny, who is coming off two tours in a year and hasn’t announced his plans for 2023.

“I guarantee you that in a couple of years, Regional Mexican is going to be the new pop because by default, Mexican music has to be huge here because 65% of Latinos are of Mexican origin,” Del Granado said. “It is going to be a primary force of Latin music in the U.S., and you have a country of 120 million [Mexico] right next door.”

The fact that different genres can dominate at any given moment speaks to the power of Latin music and the eclectic taste of fans. Schafer, too, believes that the term “Regional Mexican” will soon be extinguished and the music will be mainstream because of its rise in popularity.

“It is almost the opposite of urban music, but at the same time, those fans are moving in both of those worlds,” Schafer said. “We can no longer say fans of Fuerza Regida aren’t also fans of Bad Bunny. That is the beauty of the market, of it being so large, that segmenting it into genres is erroneous and just doesn’t give you the real picture of what the fans look like.”

Del Granado is ready for the new normal in the music industry.

“We haven’t even scratched the surface on Mexican music,” he said. “… There’s a humongous Mexican music market that is completely untapped. That’s what keeps me optimistic about the next few years.”