Latin

How Netflix Series -- Both Originals & Reruns -- Are Propelling the Music of Latin Icons Up the Charts

Selena, Netflix, Christian Serratos, Selena The Series
Netflix

Christian Serratos as Selena Quintanilla in the trailer of Selena The Series.

"We are investing in local stories and local stars, and making those stories so people all over the world can discover and fall in love with them too."

When Selena: The Series made its debut on Netflix in December, the late singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla scored her first entry on Billboard's Latin Pop Albums chart since 2016, thanks to the original series' soundtrack -- which bowed at No. 8 on the tally (dated Dec. 19) and features classics such as "Baila Esta Cumbia," "La Carcacha" and "Como La Flor."

The same effect could be seen with Jenni Rivera's Mariposa de Barrio (Soundtrack de la Serie), which debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Regional Mexican Albums chart (dated March 27), a few months after it was released on Netflix – not as an original series but as a rerun of the Telemundo-produced biopic that aired on the network back in 2017. Taking its name after the series based on the Rivera's autobiography Unbreakable: My Story, My Way (2013), the 15-track soundtrack became Rivera’s first showing on the chart since Nov. 2016.

While we have yet to see Luis Miguel's catalog have a resurgence on Billboard's charts following his Netflix original series' second season release in April, biopics inspired by the lives of Latin music icons are having a moment -- and, at the same time, propelling their music back onto and up the charts. The direct correlation between the various series and the increases in catalog consumption for the respective artists featured in them is a no-brainer, says Francisco Ramos, vice president content Latin America at Netflix.

"These stories are not only helping fans rediscover music from their favorite Latin musicians, but are also creating a whole new generation of fans that are hearing some of this music for the first time," he says. "Music and entertainment in general have some of the biggest fans, so naturally putting the two together creates the ultimate fan experience. Through the portrayal of their life stories we can also get a glimpse into the world they lived in and how much audiences shaped them and they shaped culture."

It also captures the zeitgeist of Latin music now that the genre has established a stronger foothold in the mainstream says Romina Rosado, EVP Entertainment & Content Strategy at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. "If you think at the history of hip-hop, it’s influenced everything -- and I think what we see now is that Latin music is having a similar effect," she says. "Where it’s gone from being a niche genre that only Hispanics listen to, to a trend-setting genre that is influencing everything."

The aforementioned series also created a buzz on TikTok with users on the platform joining the conversation by breaking down an episode, reacting to the music they've just discovered from watching the series or doing a "fun facts" video about the artist.

"TikTok's unique format is really changing the way music is being discovered in a way that has never been done before," says Rob Ruiz, head of music operations for TikTok Mexico. "In addition, anything nostalgia-oriented has the potential to become a huge trend on TikTok -- not only the music, which is a special part of TikTok's creative DNA, but also hairstyles, fashion, and key events in these artists careers that became cultural moments and we see this reflected in the incredible creativity thriving in the app around these biopics."

Luis Miguel joining the app with an official account was also key as he "offered a main source of content where users can discover historic moments offering a new layer of support to the biopic," adds Ruiz, who credits Netflix for engaging users to join conversations through content related campaigns. "As a result encourages unprecedented virality of the content."

From Telemundo to Netflix and TikTok, the discovery of series or music isn't linear anymore like it once was before. In a multigenerational Hispanic household, "someone who is in their late 40s may have seen [Mariposa de Barrio] on television in 2017 and then someone younger discovered it on Netflix and a teenager discovered it on TikTok," Rosado points out. "So I think the future of successful productions is going to be that. We need to be relevant for everyone, from the abuela to the teen."

But ultimately, the binding of generations, new and old fans, is a testament to an artist's ability to create music that is timeless and what makes these series uniquely impactful, says Ramos. "We are investing in local stories and local stars, and making those stories so people all over the world can discover and fall in love with them too."