NPR, Pandora, SiriusXM, Deezer, Spotify Execs Discuss Alternative Wavelengths At Latin Music Conference

Billboard Latin Music Conference's Alternative Wave Lengths: Digital Satellite and Beyond Panel (L-R)  Bahigh Acuña, New Markets Lead, Spotify Latin America; Trinity Colón, VP of Programming, SiriusXM; Anya Grundmann, Director/Executive Producer, NPR Music; Marcos Juárez, Latin Music Curator & Programmer, Pandora; Mathieu Le Roux, Managing Director Latin America, Deezer; and Bill Werde, Editorial Director. (Photo: Arnold Turner)

Panel:
Alternative Wave Lengths: Digital, Satellite And Beyond Panel

Speakers: 
Bahigh Acuna, New Markets Lead, Spotify Latin America
Trinity Colón Vice President of Programming, SiriusXM
Anya Grundmann Director/Executive Producer, NPR Music
Marcos Juárez, Latin Music Curator & Programmer, Pandora
Mathieu Le Roux, Managing Director Latin America, Deezer

Moderator: 
Bill Werde, Editorial Director, Billboard

As music finds new avenues through which to reach its audiences, Latin genres are in no way staying behind. Satellite radio, public airwaves, internet radio and other “alternative wave lengths” for music was the topic of the first panel discussion at the 24th Annual Latin Billboard Conference and the experts agree: The Latin music market is strong enough to make it a crucial part of these emerging platforms.

Billboard Executive Director Bill Werde, the panel moderator, first asked the panelists how they know Latin music is a market for them.

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Deezer’s Mathieu Le Roux said his firm did an experiment.  “We’ve run a funny test to find out what was the proportion of Google searches of this music,” said La Roux, adding that Deezer is available in 108 countries. “Out of the ten most musical countries where you can say people are the most engaged, looking for music, five were in Latin America,: he said. “So we have a sense that music is a very, very strong part of Latin American culture.”

Bahigh Acuna, New Markets Lead for Spotify Latin America, which recently launched, concurred:  “You can see it in the Brazilian national [soccer] team, how they play music in the bus and they’re dancing, not so much concentrated,” Acuna said. “They go crazy with music. It’s part of our DNA.” He also noted that growth in Latin America and growth with the U.S. Hispanic market are intertwined.

“It’s very important to have presence there because U.S. Hispanics see what Latin American people are consuming and the other way around, Latin America is looking at what U.S. Hispanics are consuming, so it is very important to have presence in both sites,” Acuna said.”

But while satellite radio may be more genre specific in Latin and Central America, where they are just beginning to expand their reach, they are more broad in the U.S. Trinity Colon, vice president of programming for SiriusXM said the Hispanics who listen to their Latin music stations also listen to talk and sports and comedy. “Our focus is on the bicultural, bilingual U.S. population,” Colon said. “Someone who is interested in Latino music would also be interested in listening to Howard Stearns or our 70s channel.”

The diversity in the U.S. Latino market can pose a challenge, because it makes it necessary to offer a broader spectrum of artists, said Marcos Juarez, Latin Music Curator and Programmer for Pandora. For us, the priority is having a very relatable sort of offering of Latin music all while understanding the dynamics of the United States and the incredible diversity that means,” Juarez said. “We have immigrants, first generation, second generation, monolingual, bilingual -- our goal is to have something for everyone.”

For a platform like National Public Radio, incorporating Latin music has worked for all its markets.  “NPR music does a multi-generational digital music magazine. We make sure that our Latin music coverage is part of the great mix,” said Anya Grundmann, director and executive producer of NPR Music. “Anything is eligible to be there and we’ve made a real effort over the last few years to incorporate more Latin music.”

NPR’s live webcasts and studio interviews with Latino artists have gotten great feedback from the public, Grundmann said. “Our biggest audience ever was for Calle 13. We had  30,000 people listening live and chatting in our chat rooms.”

And the audience for such music runs the gamut. “We have everybody from folks from Colombia and we have people like Jewish grandmothers walking their dogs telling us how excited they are about the Latin music they heard,” Grundmann said.