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One of the hottest musical genres of late has been Latin pop. “Despacito” was inescapable a year ago and hits from Danny Ocean, Karol G and J Balvin have pushed Latin music on the brink of mainstream. SoundExchange delved into the roots of Latin music’s popularity and looked into the future of “The Latin Music Boom.”

Tracing the recent surge of interest in Latin-tinged pop and dance music, SoundExchange points to Enrique Iglesias’ 2014 hit “Bailando.” Nir Seroussi, president of Sony Music U.S. Latin said that year marked “the beginning of a climb, of a rebound.”

Iglesias and Nicky Jam kept the momentum going in 2015 with “El Perdón,” followed by releases from J Balvin and Maluma. During this time the music started to change, from parochial and underground to more urban and universal, Seroussi said. “The fusion between reggaetón and Latin pop made a connection with the general public,” Pro Talent Agency’s Alex Rodriguez added. “It’s all about the sound.”

The genre’s growth was also fueled by the advent of streaming music platforms with the music being exposed to music fans outside of Latin America. Latin music revenues in the U.S. grew 37% last year to $243 million, primarily from music streaming, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2017 year-end report on Latin music. Streaming accounted for 84% of Latin music revenue. “Latin music now travels all over the globe, thanks to new technology,” said Vanessa Jester, senior VP of finance at Warner Music Latin America. “Thanks to a market that’s now focused on streaming, access to Latin music is not only for Latin Americans, but for everyone who can appreciate and enjoy the rhythms in our music.”

Alongside the burgeoning music streaming services is social media, an important tool of Latin music artists and their labels. According to Nielsen, 70% of U.S. Hispanics follow artists on social media, much more than the general public. “We are talking about millions of fans consistently being guided back towards artist pages and new music,” Gonzalez said. “To me, that has had a big impact.”

Streaming and social media helped break down the geographical barriers the genre once faced, making it easier for artists to have global audiences. “Argentina was always a very local market… now you have artists in Argentina who are breaking and artists in Spain like Rosalía and [in] Chile,” Seroussi said. “There’s more room and more opportunity.”

Gender is another barrier that has been removed as there has been no shortage of female Latin artists with songs on the charts. “Finally, we’re seeing more and more female artists who are breaking,” Rodriguez said. “When you were looking at the charts in 2015 or 2016, it was hard to find a female artist. It’s great to see now, whether it’s Becky G, or Leslie Grace, or Karol G, or Farina or Natti Natasha. There are so many names.”

Collaborations have also helped Latin music find a mainstream audience. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber was a worldwide hit. Latin artist Nicky Jam and American DJ, producer and musician Steve Aoki just released a new single called “Jaleo” last week.

SoundExchange notes that this is not the first time Latin music infiltrated the mainstream as Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin were some of the artists who brought the music to prominence in the 1990s. With an unlimited reach that streaming music platforms and social media provide, the Latin sound looks to be here to stay. “What you’re witnessing is our genre making its place in an industry that is now truly global,” Gonzalez said. “Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ and J Balvin’s ‘Mi Gente’ opened the door for Latin music to the general market. The popularity of the songs allowed a broader audience to come into the genre, explore and become fans of this incredible music. Our job now is to keep those consumers engaged through content creation and collaborations with other genres of music.”