For eight weeks and counting, Luis Fonsi’s video for megahit “Despacito” (featuring Daddy Yankee) has held the title for the most streamed video on YouTube worldwide, currently sitting at more than 965 million plays. And it’s no outlier: Roughly one-third of the top 25 YouTube music videos in the world each week are from Latin artists.
Buoyed by a streaming explosion, Latin music as a whole is on the rise, with overall consumption in the United States soaring by 13.6 percent in 2016, according to Nielsen Music. The paradigm shift is the driving force of the 28th annual Billboard Latin Music Conference (April 24-27, Ritz-Carlton, South Beach), with this year’s panels touching on new media and business models, the empowering wave of Latin social consciousness, burgeoning subgenres like trap and the fusion of sounds -- urban, pop and regional Mexican -- that dominate the charts.
As for the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards, set to air live April 27 on Telemundo from the University of Miami’s Watsco Center, the top finalists illustrate a Latin market that is increasingly shifting to a singles industry where pop/urban fusions rule and Colombian acts are singularly dominant. Nicky Jam and Shakira lead with nine entries each, followed by superstar Enrique Iglesias and regional Mexican bands Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho and Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga, with eight entries each. Maluma, Juan Gabriel and J Balvin each scored seven entries. Below is a look at the three top categories.