Music

How ‘Latin’ & Spanish Artists Can Conquer the Charts on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Back in the 1980s and even the 1990s, Spanish artists like Raphael, Julio Iglesias and Camilo Sesto were hugely popular both in Latin America and among U.S. Latin audiences — a situation replicated in the 1990s and 2000s by the likes of global superstars like Mecano and Alejandro Sanz, both of whom hailed from Spain.

The advent of reggaetón in the early 2000s changed that, as a new, youth-oriented urban movement in Latin America took over Spanish music charts around the world and the term “Latin” rose to encompass music made in Spanish.

Following the advent of streaming, an influx of immigrants from multiple countries and the pandemic, “Latin” artists gained an even bigger stronghold in Spain, and now, acts like Bad Bunny and Karol G dominate that country’s chart. At the same time, a retro-pollination is happening in real-time, with Spanish acts increasingly collaborating with their Latin counterparts to create a new world of cross-cultural, collaborative hits. Witness Argentine DJ Bizarrap’s sensational “Session” with Spanish rapper Quevedo, which topped the Billboard Global Excl. US chart.

This crossover on both sides of the Atlantic was the topic of the opening panel at Billboard’s first-ever Spanish Language Music Summit, which took place in Madrid on March 19, presented by la Comunidad de Madrid. Superstar managers Walter Kolm (Maluma, Carlos Vives), Jorge “Pepo” Ferradas (Camilo, Rels B), Fede Lauria (who owns Dale Play Records and also manages Bizarrap and Nicki Nicole), Rosa Lagarrigue (Rozalén, Raphael) and Sony U.S. Latin president Alex Gallardo candidly discussed the challenges and opportunities currently facing artists both in Spain and in Latin America.

Here are five takeaways from the conversation. You can also watch the full panel here.

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