What Happened in Latin Music In 2016? Consumption Up, Market Divided

Elvis Crespo,Billboard 200,Descemer Bueno,J Balvin,Nielsen SoundScan,Latin music (genre),Enrique Iglesias,Streaming medi

FACEBOOK TWITTER EMAIL ME Juan Gabriel Performs at The Forum at The Forum on Aug. 26, 2016 in Inglewood, Calif. Latin album sales are down (as with everyone else) and Latin digital song sales are down (as with everyone else) in 2016. But buoyed by strong streaming numbers, overall consumption of Latin music in the U.S. (in equivalent album units, which combine traditional albums sales, streaming equivalent units and track equivalent units), grew by 13.6% in 2016, from 25.6 million in 2015 to 29 million, according to Nielsen Music. That means Latin saw the third-biggest increase in music consumption year-over-year, after R&B/hip-hop and holiday music, among the major genres tracked by Nielsen. It’s a bright spot for a Latin music market that has been in major flux over the past five years, but which seems to be finally turning around. 2016 was a year of new artist signings (new teen group CNCO had the No. 12 top-selling Latin album of the year), of growing awareness of Latin in the mainstream marketplace and of exciting music, from Cubatón to Colombia’s soulful reggaetón, that had an impact beyond Latin consumers. What’s happened in the past 12 months bodes well for a genre whose lingua franca -- Spanish --allows it to flow freely across many countries. If streaming is a saving grace for music, Latin has an edge by virtue of its mobile-friendly fan base which increasingly has access to smartphones. Here in the U.S., streaming should continue to go up as well, as more and more acculturated Latins start tapping into their phones and into the music; in terms of sheer percentages, for example, overall consumption among all genres is up 3.1% compared to Latin’s 13.6%. Overall on-demand Latin streams (combining on-demand audio and video) were up 28 percent (to 35.9 billion), although both Latin album sales and Latin digital song sales were down (falling 26 percent to 3.7 million, and 26 percent to 13.7 million, respectively). A deeper dive into the Latin charts, however, show some quirks. The deep divisions in the U.S. Latin marketplace have always been vexing for labels and promoters: There’s a West Coast market, an East Coast market, a Miami market and a Puerto Rico market, each with its own distinct and defined tastes. Now, Nielsen's year-end tally of the top-selling Latin albums and Latin songs of the year shows not a division, but a chasm, where what’s happening with traditional physical album sales is completely different from what’s moving the singles and the streaming markets. An analysis of Nielsen Music’s...

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