Music Industry Talks: The Rise of Regional Mexican and Female-Led Latin Music Stations in Pandora
Welcome to our new editorial series for Music Industry Talks, where we cover topics related to the Latin Music Industry, and the movers and shakers behind it.
Pandora’s Marcos Juarez, Head of Latin at Pandora, talked to us here at mitú about RMX Radio, Pandora’s Regional Mexican station, how Del Corazón Station wants to showcase Latin women in music, El Detour Station is for artists that can’t be put in a box and more. Read our exclusive interview below.
RMX Radio reached 1 million monthly listeners on Pandora. What’s your opinion on the success and popularity recently of Regional Mexican music and Corridos?
Marcos Juarez: “RMX is a modern take on the Regional Mexican genre. It soft-launched in 2018, officially launched in 2019. It was our effort to highlight the diversity of Mexican music, to show that it wasn’t a static genre. There is a perception of Mexican music that it’s static, that it skews older. All of that has been blown out of the water in the last two years. When we first launched RMX, it was sort of at the beginning of the modernization and increased visibility of Mexican artists. We wanted to show bicultural artists, those with one foot in Mexico and one foot in the United States, those that belong to for example third generation, bilingual English preferred, that whole spectrum, this obviously has resonated with our audience.”
“Pandora has always been very strong with the [Regional Mexican] genre, and Regional Mexican music is the juggernaut, so to speak, that really drives Latin music consumption in the US.” – Marcos Juarez
Marcos Juarez (cont’d): “There are obviously some huge names coming out of Puerto Rico, Colombia, that have huge numbers, but if you look as a whole, both catalog and older and younger artists, Mexican music is enormous, the audience has always been there. It’s a consolidation of listening that we’re seeing and streaming platforms now that gives the impression that ‘Oh my God, what is this huge increase?’. It’s also the medium with which artists can work.”
“Now you can be an independent artist, you don’t have to go through the same channels that traditionally Mexican artists had to go through. You mentioned Corridos Tumbados, and now you have all these artists blowing up on YouTube. Obviously, there are stand-out labels, Rancho Humilde being the poster child of how you can leverage a moment by being authentic and being fully and truly representative of your audience.”
“For so long, Mexican music and the standards of Mexican music were largely dictated in Mexico and then sort of brought here, now, there’s room for everybody at the table. You have a movement coming out of LA, then blowing up everywhere, the Bay Area, Arizona, Houston, you have Norteños con Sax, all that music from Chihuahua, the whole diaspora in Dallas that’s blowing up, the Poblanos in New York blowing up there. It’s beautiful to see the diversity of Mexican music and for people to finally get that because the audience has always been there, diversity has always been there, but now people are paying attention.”
El Pulso has over 3 million monthly listeners. Which Latin artists do you think are leading the way on the platform?
Marcos Juarez: “Bad Bunny is dominating, of course, we can go below him to Anuel, Ozuna, and Maluma. A level below them you have artists like Rauw Alejandro, Sech, and Myke Towers, all of them global artists, which I think are the next ones in the line leading Latin Urban music, doing amazing things. Jay Wheeler is blowing up, Juhn, Jhay Cortez, obviously. For women, Karol G is obviously already huge, Mariah Angeliq has a huge opportunity to blow up.”
Del Corazón is a female-led station which is always a great thing to give Latin women in music a platform. Would love to learn more about how this decision came about.
Marcos Juarez: “I have to give all credit to my colleague Leticia Ramirez, who is an incredible content creator and programmer, huge shoutout to her, it’s her concept. We’ve all identified the lack of representation for women in Latin music for a long time, it’s glaring, and it wasn’t always that way. But in the last 15-20 years, there has been a deficit of female artists and female voices in popular commercial Latin music. It’s not that those female artists aren’t released and that there aren’t projects and there isn’t music, it’s just I think a lack of investment, it’s a myriad of reasons.”
“Identified by Leticia as a huge opportunity, we’re seeing all this music coming across our desks, we’re listening to it, and I think what she discovered is that when you put it together and sort of tell a cohesive story and have a narrative, there is an aesthetic that is incredible there as a body of work and expression. We decided to move forward with it as a counterpart to El Pulso, as a sort of a sister station, sharing a branded entity and the response has been great.”
El Detour is for artists that can’t be put in a box. Over the past couple of years, which artists have been featured on this station?
Marcos Juarez: “We had Latin Alternative stations, that term is a bit antiquated, I think. So we wanted to have a station where we could put things that were challenging, outside of the mainstream, outside of pop, so that was really the idea behind El Detour or taking a detour from the mainstream. The campaign that we launched the station with had Cuco, The Marias, Helado Negro, and Kali Uchis, who is now super mainstream, those were the four artists that we launched with that were all from sort of different fields and styles.”
In your opinion, which genres do you believe deserve more love from Latin music listeners?
Marcos Juarez: “I would love a rediscovery of just classic iconic genres of Latin American music. I would love to see people rediscover Puerto Rican music from the ’60s and merengue from the ’80s. Of course, if you’re Dominican you know about Wilfrido Vargas, you know about Hernandita Villalona, but I would love to see other members of the Latin diaspora discover this music, that’s always been so exciting for me. People don’t know what they’re missing yet.”
“In the case of Mexico, you have jorochos, huastecos, the old rancheras, the ballads from the 70s. Cumbias from Colombia, Discos Fuentes, valses from Perú. I feel like we’re so fortunate in our shared culture, which is a luxury to say, to have all these amazing expressions of music and identity and it’s all out there. We want to have places for that in Pandora. One of the places you really see that happen more than any time of the year it’s Christmas. Everybody goes back to nostalgia, tradition, so we have Navidad Boricua, Navidad Colombiana, Navidad Mexicana, and that’s all that vintage music, which doesn’t have to live only between December-January. For me, that’s what’s exciting, for people to really discover how amazing all this old music is.”
How can an up-and-coming artist get featured on a Pandora station?
Marcos Juarez: “Artists can submit their music through AMP, which is a platform that we have at Pandora available and receive thousands of submissions through there”.
Thank you to Marcos Juarez from Pandora for this insightful conversation about the current status of Latin music on the platform.