Why is Latin music all the rage right now? First of all, "because the music is awesome," Huppe said, laughing. “Latin music is exploding everywhere because people really like it, and it has spilled over into other genres."
But he also noted that today's Latin consumers are more tech-savvy than the average listener. In fact, he cited from Nielsen data, 45 percent of the Hispanic population listens to music using streaming services, compared to 40 percent in the non-Hispanic community. He added that Hispanic consumers not only tend more toward mobile listening, but also listen for longer than the average consumer.
“They’re more embedded in the tech part and digital part of the industry," Huppe said. "If you’re more digital, you’re going to be riding the wave of streaming that’s driving this growth.”
Indeed, Latin audio -- defined as music with lyrics more than half in Spanish -- saw a 57.1 percent rise in total streams year-over-year, from 16.1 billion registered in 2017 to 25.3 billion for 2018, according to Nielsen Music's year-end numbers.
Huppe also touched on the organization's efforts to lobby for and pass the recent Music Modernization Act -- and what work he thinks is still needed to support music creators in the business. The music industry's next battle, Huppe said, will be getting terrestrial radio to pay artists to use their recordings "just like everyone else."
"The broadcast industry makes more money off music than the music industry," he said to applause from the crowd. "The songwriter gets paid when a song gets played on radio, but recording artists and labels get nothing. Radio should stop getting paid for this free ride."
To push new initiatives forward, he urged artists to get involved. Smokey Robinson was one of several artists who visited Capitol Hill to advocate for the Music Modernization Act, and Huppe thinks musicians' participation propelled the bill's passage. "It's not just about lobbying," he continued. "It’s about making your voices heard, educating yourselves on the issues. The more that artists and their teams have their voices heard, the more of a difference it can make."