Spain’s Music Market Is Booming As It Welcomes Latin Talent From Around The Globe

Spain is alive with the sound of music.

In the last 12 months alone, the country launched a new Academy of Music and will hold its first awards in Spain in May; it also hosted the Latin Grammys in Seville in November, the first time the awards show was presented outside the United States.

And music sales are booming. Total music revenue in 2022 reached its highest mark since 2006 — 462 million euros ($498 million) — while revenue from sales and streaming rose 11.5% in the first half of 2023 to 214.3 million euros ($231 million), compared with the same period in 2006, according to trade group Promusicae.

In the live-music arena, 2022 ticket revenue reached a record gross of 459 million euros ($495 million), according to Spain’s Association of Musical Promoters. And according to IFPI, music consumption in Spain per capita stands at an average of 20.9 hours each week, exceeding the global average of 20.1.


While some of the growth can be attributed to post-pandemic recovery, a plethora of new business models along with an infusion of “Latin” music — that is, music in Spanish that comes from Latin America and the U.S. Latin market instead of Spain — are also fueling a music industry that feels more dynamic and ebullient than it has been in years, since its heyday as one of the world’s top 10 music markets, a rank it held as recently as 2009.

“The Spanish market in recent years has stood out for being key in the global positioning strategy for Latin artists. It’s in the best moment and capacity to once again be a point of reference as a country that exports music — as it was in the 1980s — and as a major presence in the global market,” says Narcis Rebollo, president of Universal Music Iberian Peninsula Spain & Portugal.

It’s not just the market, but also the experimentation within it. Rebollo cites Universal’s booming direct-to-consumer business, the popularity of music TV shows like Operación Triunfo and La Voz Spain, as well as the opening last year of the first Umusic Hotel, in Madrid, next door to the historic, 1,000-seat Teatro Albeniz venue.

In 2022, in Madrid, Warner Music Spain also opened The Music Station, an impressive multiuse space that includes label offices, theaters and recording studios, and Sony Music Spain just opened its state-of-the-art 5020 studios, also in the capital city.

“Our music had never generated so much interest, and this generates competition in many fronts,” says José María Barbat, president of Sony Music Entertainment Spain and Iberia. “It affects our business model because it’s no longer an industry of majors and indies, but also distributors.” Sony alone owns AWAL and The Orchard.

Players, Spain, Alejandro Sanz
Fans embraced Spain’s Alejandro Sanz at Mexico’s Arena Monterrey in February 2023.

At the same time, indie Latin labels like WK Entertainment, Dale Play and Rimas have opened offices in Spain, a sign that Latin labels and executives are seeing bigger opportunities for their artists there than before.

“I think — in a good way — that Hispanic American artists are fostering the birth of a star system like we’ve never seen,” says Vicent Argudo Esteve, head of Prisa Música; the music division of the powerful Grupo Prisa includes top radio network Los40, which operates in 11 Spanish-speaking countries including Spain. “Media like Billboard or Los40 are largely responsible for this. Never before had we placed music in our language above or at the same level as the big English-speaking international stars.”

Spanish-speaking artists completely dominated Promusicae’s 2023 Top Latin Albums list, with only three English titles (two by Taylor Swift and one by Harry Styles) in the top 20. The chart was topped by Spanish rapper Quevedo, but overall, Latin artists including Bad Bunny, Karol G and Mora occupied nine slots in the top 20 compared with eight Spanish titles.

According to AIE, the Collection Society for Artists and Performers headquartered in Spain, the consumption of music performed in Spanish is now 62% of Spain’s music market, a 6% increase in the past five years, while consumption of music in English has dropped 14%. Latin music that comes from other countries represents 26% of all streaming.

In the live-music scene, “the biggest change of the past year is the explosion of demand for Latin American music,” says Carlos Maguiña, president of logistics operator Magusa Global Cargo. “Spanish fans are hooked to urban Latin rhythms and reggaetón, and they’re filling stadiums to see both established and new talent coming from Latin America. It was incredible to see Karol G sell out three stadiums in 15 minutes.”

Players, Spain, Quevedo, Madrid’s La Caja Mágica
Spanish rap star Quevedo took the stage of Madrid’s La Caja Mágica in September 2023.

But Latin artists are not simply crossing the Atlantic, doing their thing and going home. They’re collaborating increasingly with Spanish artists, facilitating a fascinating back-and-forth. Bizarrap and Shakira’s “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” for example, topped Promusicae’s year-end top 100 Songs list, which included only one English-language track in the top 20 slots. The remainder were Latin and Spanish songs and collaborations between artists of both continents, including Quevedo and Myke Towers on “Playa del Inglés” and Rauw Alejandro and Rosalía on “BESO.”

“The Spanish market still has a very ­relevant ­local market; there has always been an ­appetite for local pop en español,” Argudo says. “But ­clearly, strong immigration from our sister countries is fostering an unprecedented cultural opening and a unique opportunity for music in Spanish at a global scale.”

The Spanish music scene is vibrant “thanks to the impact of Latin music,” Warner Spain president Guillermo González Arévalo says. “The fusion with Spanish culture has led to a development of new talent with a more international sound.” The global success of artists like Quevedo, he adds, “has opened a very important door for Spanish urban music.”

Thanks to its language ties to most of Latin America, Spain long functioned as the incubator and exporter of big Spanish-language stars — much like the United States for the rest of the world — but also as a major market for big mainstream English-speaking stars. That changed in the last 20 years with the rise of international Latin global stars like Shakira, Marc Anthony and Enrique Iglesias and, later, genres like Puerto Rican reggaetón, Colombian urban music and now regional Mexican.

Today, due to a surge in immigration from Latin America, the Spanish market is not only increasingly embracing “Latin” music but also developing a new crop of international acts of its own, including Rosalía, Quevedo, Rels B and Aitana, who are all selling out arenas outside of Spain.

The fascination with Spanish music “is something I hadn’t seen in my 30 years in the industry,” Sony’s Barbat says.

Players, Spain, Aitana, Madrid’s WiZink Center
Aitana onstage at Madrid’s WiZink Center in December 2023.

That interest, combined with growth in the market and live music, has produced a healthier ecosystem — and has even deeper implications. Spain has particularly strong artist and performer rights, with a model based on equitable distribution of streaming revenue where even session musicians get paid, AIE general director José Luis Sevillano says. “Basically, streaming platforms pay an additional amount to AIE, which we distribute to artists and musicians and which doesn’t interfere with any contractual agreement between artist and labels or labels and streaming services.”

And there’s also the potential of Spanish music abroad. According to IFPI’s market study of Spain, sales of Spanish music abroad brought in 34 million euros ($36.6 million) of industry revenue in 2022, a 35.1% growth compared with 2021.

What’s happening in Spain now “is just the beginning,” says Cristina Perpiñá-Robert, general director of Spain’s Society of Authors and Editors. “Spain is the natural bridge between Europe and Latin America. Globally, more than 500 million of us speak Spanish, which is already the second most-spoken language in the U.S. We have to continue promoting the necessary tools to help Ibero American culture find its true place.”

This story will appear in the March 9, 2024, issue of Billboard.

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