Latin Music RIAA Numbers Dip, But Full Picture Is More Complex

Michael Seto
Daddy Yankee at the Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards, Miami, FL, on 28 April 2015.

Latin music shipments dropped yet again in 2014, by 10 percent, according to the RIAA’s just-released 2014 Year-End Industry Shipment and Revenue Statistics report.

The dip in shipments is in sync with that of the market as a whole. But while the overall market saw only a .5 percent drop in value, the Latin music market registered a far heftier 4.1 percent drop, all of it coming from physical formats.

Gente De Zona Debut on Hot Latin Songs

That’s because, as the RIAA notes prominently in its Latin music report, its numbers do not include Soundexchange distributions or on-demand, ad-supported streaming services like YouTube and Spotify. All these have been cited repeatedly by labels and artists as their biggest revenue growth formats in the past couple of years.

If the RIAA begins to tally these numbers for Latin, a process that’s in the works, the equation should shift in a positive direction.

Regardless, the Latin industry numbers did reflect a burgeoning subscription services market, which rose from $25.7 million in dollar value in 2013 to $29.2 million in 2014, a 13 percent growth that offset the loss registered in singles and albums downloads.

All told, digital revenues grew by 1.2 percent even as unit sales dropped 9.6 percent.

And once again, digital was a larger piece of the total music pie, accounting for 57 percent of shipments while physical formats dropped to 43 percent.