Latin

Billboard Latin Music Awards: Streaming, All-Star Collabs Fuel Genre's Big Year

Ozuna
Pablo Diaz

Ozuna 

Ozuna's record 23 nominations for the 2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards underscore a significant moment for Latin music in the United States. The genre is not only at the forefront of pop culture -- the Grammy Awards telecast opened with Camila CabelloJ Balvin and Ricky Martin -- it's seeing outsize success with streaming, urban music and collaborations.

Ozuna is competing against himself in a variety of categories. For the top Latin album of the year, his 2018 LP, Aura, goes head-to-head against 2017's Odisea; for hot Latin song of the year, he's featured on "Taki Taki" and "Te Boté," a trap/reggaetón who's who that also includes Nicky Jam and Bad Bunny. Meanwhile, "Te Boté" and "El Farsante," his duet with Romeo Santos, are both nominated for streaming song of the year. (Nominees and winners are determined by the sales, streaming, radio airplay and social data informing Billboard's charts.)

Other top nominees are also collaborations. Balvin and Jam have 13 nominations each, including six for their joint hit "X (Equis)." Bad Bunny has 12, eight of which are collaborations. Only Daddy Yankee, who has eight nods, has a solo track, "Dura," up for an award.

The boom in collaborations among urban Latin acts has, in turn, boosted the streaming numbers that power Latin music. "Aside from their fundamental, artistic component, collabs also play a strategic role," explains Sony Music U.S. Latin president Alex Gallardo. "You can take advantage of the official channels and social media of featured artists, plus those markets where they're strong."

Streaming accounted for 91 percent of all U.S. Latin music revenue, according to the RIAA's 2018 midyear report, compared with 75 percent for the market overall. And, according to Nielsen Music, Latin music accounted for 18.4 percent of the total video streaming marketplace in 2018, a massive over-index for the genre.

"Consistency is everything," says Bad Bunny manager Noah Assad, explaining why his client has released over 100 songs in barely three years. "We want him everywhere."

Karol G and Natti Natasha became the first women to be nominated in the best new artist category in at least six years. And for tour of the year, tradition prevailed, with nominations for Luis MiguelJennifer Lopez and Shakira, proof that roots music has more appeal than urban on the live circuit.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards will air live from Las Vegas on Telemundo on April 25.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 16 issue of Billboard.