Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” was recognized as the Latin Song of the Decade at this week’s 2020 Billboard Latin Music awards, but its significance goes much further. Billboard editorial director Hannah Karp spoke with Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula chairman/CEO Jesús López and UMG marketing EVP Andrew Kronfeld about the new global Latin marketplace.
Here are key takeaways.
The ‘Despacito’ Difference
López: Previously the songs made the crossover, but few artists crossed over. Now, after “Despacito,” the game changed. It’s not only the songs but a cultural movement and the artists. We had invested a lot into Latin music in the decade when the market wasn’t growing. We were ready to do the job. After “Despacito,” we realized the strategy was the correct strategy.
Kronfeld: Right song, right artist at the right time, when there was a streaming ecosystem taking over.
The Power of Latin Music Today
Kronfeld: It’s night and day. We always had the audience, we just didn’t know how big the audience was. Once access became easier and any Latin fan was able to engage, it skyrocketed. It’s five-fold or more. It’s not that the audience changed, we’re starting to understand how big it is.
Lopez: In the last years, Lucian Grainge made us feel we’re sitting at the same table. The Latinos previously, we were a small part of the business and it was hard to get the attention of the big brothers. Now, the major development is we are real players, we are completely integrated into the whole structure.
On Universal’s New 360 Business Model
Lopez: The market was shrinking [the last decade]. That was the reason we started to think, why don’t we put a structure in place and convince the managers and artists together and convince them that it was better to put everything together, and when we invest $1 it will be better spent. In that moment, it was very revolutionary. Right now it’s very common. We have more than 100 artists where we have managing rights. Pre-COVID, we did more than 1,500 shows in the Latin world the previous year.
On Markets With Growth Potential for Latin
Kronfeld: When you see that [other] labels are investing in Spanish language it’s a business. It even holds true in collaborations, with artists in Asia and Africa wanting to collaborate with Latin artists. Because of population scale, China and India are going to be massively influential with Latin music.
Lopez: France, Germany, Italy. One of the major issues we have, the country we need to break is Brazil. It’s a Latin country, but it’s very isolated. In consumption and units, India and China are in the top 10 markets. I cross my fingers that “the next ‘Despacito’ J will be a Latin artist. I bet on Brazilian acts. I think they can get success around the world.
Watch the full panel above.
For all panels and conversations, go to http://billboardlatinmusicweek.com