Music

We’ve Seen Successful Reggaeton Crossovers, but What’s Next for Latin Music? Spotify’s Head of US Latin Editorial Chimes In

Last year, Bad Bunny was named Spotify’s most streamed artist globally, and artists like Karol G, J Balvin, and Rauw Alejandro cracked the Global Top 50 for end-of-year charts.

As Latin music keeps reaching new heights worldwide, we wonder which route our music will go by the end of the year. mitú spoke with Spotify’s Head of US Latin Editorial, Antonio Vazquez, about what we can expect for our music this year — from reggaeton stars going pop to regional Mexican going global and everything that happens in between.

Artists are taking more risks and switching from genre to genre in 2022.

For Spotify’s Antonio Vazquez, there are many trends that stand out from what the mainstream artists are doing and the ways in which genres are evolving.

As it pertains to mainstream artists, the focus is to avoid getting boxed in a single genre. “There’s a bigger wave of superstar artists that have stopped identifying with one single genre, which we have started seeing since last year, but it’s more present now than ever,” shared Vazquez. “There are also artists that flow between different styles, they want to increase their range and their audience. These superstar artists usually max out pretty quickly and then they try to get new audiences, which has happened if you look at recent collaborations in EDM and regional Mexican spaces, R&B, hip-hop. The most successful artists of the future will be the ones that take the biggest risks.”

Today’s top artists are breaking away from fitting only one genre and are easily crossing over genres and languages that were difficult to envision not too long ago. “You see this trend with artists like Bad Bunny, Camilo, Rosalía, Nathy Peluso. Whenever you talk about them, it’s really hard to encapsulate them or put them in a bucket because they will collaborate with whomever they feel it’s the right person or the right genre at the time,” said Vazquez. “Tokischa is another artist that has so much art inside of her that it doesn’t really matter, it’s beyond genres. I feel it’s also what the audience wants: they want to see artists experiment more, whether it is from urbano to pop to regional Mexican, you name it, it doesn’t really matter as long as they create and sustain that vibe, which is authenticity in the end.”

The Latin pop wave is here to stay, and more artists are experimenting with pop sounds. One success story is Rauw Alejandro’s shift from reggaeton to pop in last year’s hit “Todo de Ti.” As Vazquez shares, “you see now with artists that used to do popetón like CNCO, Mau y Ricky, Piso 21, they have now found their lane and are way more comfortable just playing around with more dance-pop, synth-based and rhythmic sounds.”

Read: Spotify Launches ‘Elevando Nuestra Música’ Campaign Featuring Karol G, Myke Towers and Mau Y Ricky

How reggaeton has reshaped Latin music listeners today.

The impact of reggaeton in the Latin music boom post-“Despacito” cannot go unnoticed. For Vazquez, it all ties back to reggaeton’s rhythmic origins and its distinct sound that connects listeners to Spanish, without them having to speak the language.

However, while some folks’ first introduction to reggaeton is via the rhythmic songs, Vazquez is interested in seeing Latin songs in other genres perform just as well. “We need to find new sounds in the culture to really redesign it and keep pushing it forward,” shared Vazquez. “What reggaeton brought to Latin culture and the visibility of Latin music in the last five years was that reggeaton is highly rhythmic, so it naturally connects non-Latinos as well as non-Spanish speakers. What I’m waiting to see happen is if these songs are more traditional pop or like dance pop hits actually connect outside of the Latino core audience, if they really cross over or not. There are some cases from last year that prove that it has, but at a slower pace.”

Redefining regional Mexican in 2022.

To avoid constraining the music with a “regional” label, Spotify is taking a stance alongside artists of the genre who understand their music extends beyond borders.

“For many years it has been more of an industry term or an industry way of calling the genre. As regional Mexican music starts to cross over beyond Mexico to the U.S., Central America and even South America, the artists aren’t regional anymore. Artists have been very vocal expressing discomfort about having to call themselves regional when they don’t feel like their music has regional reach only. It’s global,” said Vazquez. “At Spotify we’re already pushing on redefining how we call it and we’re starting to use the term música Mexicana, which has been so far well accepted by users and they’re resonating with it, the artists are also vibing with it, so it’s a wider way to call it and to adopt the new term.”

Concept albums could become the norm.

For Vazquez, more Latin artists are adhering to a theme or concept for their albums, and in 2022 there’s a possibility that we might get more artists not just doing a remix, but actually collaborating on a larger scale for concept albums. “We’ve come from the remix to collaborating songs and now in 2022 we’re going to have collaborative albums. There’s already been a small trend from J Balvin to Bad Bunny with ‘Oasis’, to Anuel and Ozuna with ‘Los Dioses’, Yandel and Tainy with ‘DYNASTY’, to Ovi, Natanael Cano and Junior H with ‘Las Tres Torres’, so I feel like this year artists will come together and create a bigger concept beyond just meeting in the studio just once.”

Viva Latino’s 10 Artists to Watch in 2022.

To kick-off the new year, Spotify’s flagship Latin music playlist Viva Latino unveiled their Artists to Watch in 2022. While some of the artists featured are familiar faces for avid music listeners like Feid, Tokischa and Micro TDH, Spotify hopes they become even bigger stars come 2023.

“From the U.S. to Argentina, this year’s Viva Latino Artists to Watch selection is a wide range of flavors that show how diverse our Latin culture is, ranging from urbano, R&B, dembow, corridos to cumbia. What unites them is fearlessness, the need to experiment and defy the status quo, and create more sophisticated art that helps position Latin music globally,” said Vasquez. “In this group we see more female artists, afro-latinos, and especially a younger generation that will set the foundation for the next years in Latin music.”

Read: Music Industry Talks: Behind The Rise of Latin R&B on Spotify

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