The Year In Latin: Old, New Generaciones Maintain Latin Music’s Strong Momentum

RBD, a Mexican pop group of telenovela fame, went on tour for the first time in nearly 15 years and grossed $146,410,389 this year, placing them No. 13 on Pollstar’s Top 200 Worldwide Tours of 2023.(Photo by Rick Kern / Getty Images)

There’s an old proverb about raising children that says, “It takes a village,” a phrase that somehow also applies to the continued development of Latin music in 2023. Bad Bunny shattered touring records last year and elevated the genre to heights (and profits) never seen before on the streaming and touring fronts, but his break from the spotlight left many wondering who would take that baton and lead música Latina’s growth in 2023. It turns out that it wasn’t one artist but several who successfully took on that responsibility and kept the momentum going for Latin music.

That notion is evident when comparing last year’s Pollstar’s Top 200 Worldwide Tours to this year’s chart. Twenty-four Latin music artists were among the Top 200 Worldwide Tours in 2022, including 11 in the top 100 spots, and this year’s chart had 32, including 16 in the top 100. RBD, a Mexican pop group that hadn’t toured in 15 years, was the top-grossing Latin act of 2023 with $146,410,389, which was good for the No. 13 spot, and right behind them was Colombian star Karol G, who made a leap to stadiums this year (similar to what Bad Bunny did in 2022) and earned a whopping $144,570,852 off 18 shows. Other notable artists on the chart included crooner Luis Miguel (No. 22 with $94.55 million, Romeo Santos (No. 26, $82.22 million) and rising Mexican star Peso Pluma, who placed 30th with $67.85 million in his first year touring the U.S.

“I mean, the Latin market’s insane,” Phil Rodriguez, CEO of Move Concerts, told Pollstar. “It’s just unstoppable. That’s just a reality that’s here. … I mean, you hear of some of the grosses Bad Bunny has in arenas — it’s stadium grosses in arenas. It’s mind-boggling.”

The high grosses aren’t only in the form of ticket sales but also streaming and albums sold. In its mid-year report released in September, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that Latin music revenues in the U.S. increased 15% to a record high of $627 million in the first half of 2023. RIAA reported that Latin music revenue in the U.S. exceeded $1 billion for the first time in 2022, so it’s well on its way to setting a new record in 2023. Spotify, the world’s most popular music streaming service, recently unveiled its year-end rankings and among the Top 10 Artists Globally were four Latin acts: Bad Bunny at No. 2, Peso Pluma at No. 5, Feid at No. 6 and Karol G at No. 9.

The rapid success of Latin artists amazes even a veteran promoter like Henry Cárdenas.

“About 20 years ago, it took [Latin acts] over 10 years for them to fill arenas. Guys like Junior H and Peso Pluma went from nightclubs straight to an arena in the U.S. It’s unheard of,” says Cárdenas, founder and CEO of Cárdenas Marketing Network. “The development is so quick right now, and it’s great for the market. It’s going to continue. It’s growing so fast. Sometimes, I don’t understand it.”

For decades, Latin music has broken into the Anglocentric mainstream with crossover artists such as Ritchie Valens, Gloria Estefan, Selena and Daddy Yankee but has struggled to maintain its presence in the limelight, often having its cultural footprints relegated to being known as a trend. But with record profits yet again this year in streaming and touring, the Latin music revolución we are witnessing doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

“I don’t see it as a wave or trend. I think it’s here to stay,” Luis Fonsi told Pollstar. “I love how it is evolving. We all know that music is cyclical, and I’m sure three or four years from now it might be a little different, but I think the important thing and common denominator is that Latin music and culture are being embraced by people who normally, 10 to 15 years ago, probably wouldn’t leave on a [Spanish-language] song on the radio for more than 10 seconds in areas like middle America. Now, it’s more Top 40, more mainstream.”

Many credit Fonsi as a catalyst for the recent Latin music movement with his 2017 megahit “Despacito,” a collaboration with Daddy Yankee that was the most streamed single in the U.S. that year. With a regional Mexican song like “Ella Baila Sola” from Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma becoming a massive success on streaming platforms and social media this year, it’s safe to say that Latin music is not only mainstream but becoming our new pop.