The Latin music industry is unstoppable, and for insight into how that dominance might continue, Billboard reached out to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and industry leads to predict the musical trends we can expect in 2023.
MAG, who’s topped the Billboard Latin Producers chart for 36 weeks, says he’s thrilled to see more artists dip their toes outside of reggaetón music. “It’s exciting to see bachata and regional Mexican music growing outside of their rooted territories,” he tells Billboard via email.
Meanwhile, Billboard’s current No. 1 Latin Songwriter, Edgar Barrera, encourages artists to release lots of new music this year. “Don’t keep songs captive in a hard drive, put it out there and see what happens,” he notes.
MAG and Barrera, along with other Latin music experts like Ovy on the Drums and Eden Muñoz, share their predictions for the year to come below:
Are there any trends in Latin music that you’re looking out for or that excite you the most?
Ovy on the Drums (producer and artist): Right now the trend that excites me the most is that I have been experimenting with the RKT in Argentina — this new movement that is happening there. And the truth is that it is something very innovative that I hope will go viral, and that more colleagues will join this new movement. That really excites me a lot. It is something very different from [the traditional] sounds in the Latin industry and what we are used to hearing. I have had the opportunity to experiment with many genres, but never with RKT and cumbia villera from the Argentine movement.
Eden Muñoz (singer-songwriter and producer): Definitely cumbia and everything in the tropical realm. That’s something that I’m excited to experiment with.
Elena Rose (singer-songwriter): I love the Afro influence in the Latino world. I identify with dancehall and R&B melodies, and when I travel to other countries and learn about other cultures, this hybrid helps me communicate better musically. I am excited to express myself in Spanish with global sounds.
Emiliano Vasquez (A&R at Sony Music Latin): Bachata is becoming more popular as it merges with different musical genres, such as R&B, pop, electronica, hip-hop and trap. It is very common to see pop and urban artists recording bachata in their promotional singles and achieving great acceptance, even without originally being bachateros. Latin festivals will also become a worldwide trend due to the growing popularity of Latin music and its fusion after the pandemic, with North American trap and urban music dominating the world pop scene.
MAG (producer): I love that we’re seeing the global expansion of several Latin music subgenres other than just reggaetón. It’s exciting to see bachata and regional Mexican music growing outside of their rooted territories. It’s also exciting to hear electronic/house-infused Latin music again. A lot of Latin music in the ’90s and early 2000s had dance music elements.
Ali Stone (producer, songwriter, and artist): I’m very excited to see electronic music, especially house, making its way into Latin music and crossing over with pop and urban. I’ve also noticed punk rock having its comeback. It’s refreshing to hear Latin artists that aren’t afraid to mix these contrasting sounds.
Julio Reyes Copello (songwriter, producer, and pianist): I’m looking for passionate singer-songwriters and R&B artists [recording] in Spanish.
Maffio (producer): I’m super excited about a trend that’s happening in the Dominican Republic called “El Sonido de la 42,” which is gaining viral traction thanks to local artists such as Flow 28 and Angel Dior.
Edgar Barrera (songwriter and producer): I think the common trend among successful acts is that they’re being raw and authentic, being true to their sound and not trying to chase whatever is working for someone else. I’m very excited about the growth and evolution of Mexican music and how it’s expanding to new markets outside of Latin America.
What should artists be avoiding, and what should they be doing more of this year?
Stone: I feel the main focus should be to make art with substance, with identity, to make songs that feel intentional. “Quality over quantity” should be this year’s mantra.
Vasquez: Artists should avoid controversy. Their focus should be on the music and art, not the controversy. Latin artists should try to maintain a positive and professional reputation by staying away from any type of negative behavior that could affect their careers.
MAG: Avoid chasing trends and bring more authenticity to your artistry.
Maffio: Artists should avoid controversies and get to the basics of making music. Create dope music and fuse it with the trend.
Rose: They should avoid overthinking when creating. No one has the formula to make a “hit” anymore — being you is enough. But be you in your 100%. [They should] worry about their daily routines, what they eat and how they stay physically and mentally healthy. Who do they have around them? Cheerleaders or real friends? All of this influences our creative process and how we evolve in our careers. I think it’s a year of organizing inside and cleaning outside.
Barrera: In my opinion, artists should avoid sticking to the rules all of the time. Music is consumed today very differently than it was a couple of years ago, so the old way of releasing music every three months is outdated. Don’t keep songs captive in a hard drive, put it out there and see what happens.
OVY: I feel that artists should avoid continuing in the same thing, continuing in the same sound, in the same trend. Many producers and artists stay in that same sound for a long time and it’s like: ok, a sound already worked, let’s change and look for other different things. I think that all producers and artists should start doing [music where] we don’t know if it’s going to work or not, that’s the difference.
Muñoz: Continue working [hard] even when we have one or two hits, good royalties, etc. To think that what we’ve achieved is enough has to be avoided at all costs.
Copello: Artists should avoid copying Bad Bunny, please. They shouldn’t be afraid of trying new ways of exploring the folklore of their own cultural heritage.
Any new Latin artist who has caught your eye, and who you think will make it big in 2023?
Rose: Bilianca. She’s very talented and super humble.
Maffio: I think Beéle from Colombia has a bright future. He has something unique and soothing to the ear. He has all the tools to become a legacy artist.
Barrera: Grupo Frontera is a band from my hometown that I’m working with very closely. I contacted them because I saw a lot of potential, and the idea of starting a project from the Valley really excited me — this was weeks before they went viral, and now I’m helping them take their career to the next level. I’m very proud to see them become the first regional Mexican act to have three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the same week.
Muñoz: Grupo Frontera I feel is very strong with a good foundation. I congratulate them on it.
Vasquez: I really like Pol Granch. Beware of this super-talented singer/composer with great on-stage energy making him different from the others. Another super talent is GALE. I really like her music and her songs are on another level.
Copello: Yes! Agris Lopez and Joaquina Blavia.
OVY: The truth is, there is no specific one. One of the things that I love the most in my career is that I am a producer who likes to work with new artists, not knowing if they are going to become a hit or not. Simply because I like to support the new generations and I have had the opportunity to share with many, without saying names, from Argentina, Colombia, and Spain, I know they are going to have a great 2023 and that they are going to break globally.
MAG: I love Young Miko and what she stands for. She has built an organic following, and is at the forefront of diversifying what música urbana looks and sounds like.
Stone: Yes, there are two amazing Latinas that come to my head! One of them is Young Miko: I had the pleasure of working with her in mid-2022 and I was so impressed by her talent as a writer, rapper, singer and performer. She’s insane. The other one is Bruises, who I also got to work with in late 2022, and for whom I’m producing her upcoming Monstruos Tour. I love that she’s so authentic and unapologetic. I feel these two girls have a genuine identity and sound like no other. They’re also so kind and beautiful as human beings. As we would say in Colombia, “tienen angel.” They’re both killing it already, but I’m sure 2023 is gonna be their year.