Who wasn’t at Billboard’s 2021 Latin Music Week? The three-day conference was a celebratory homecoming that brought together artists, producers and industry leaders. The days were stacked with dynamic panels across the various facets of the industry, with hitmakers Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Nicky Jam and more, sharing their experiences and expertise to nearly one thousand eager participants at the Faena Forum in Miami Beach. Strict COVID-19 guidelines, including vaccination or a negative test requirement, and face coverings were enforced to ensure the safety of eager conference goers during the events.
The week kicked off with opening remarks from Billboard’s Latin industry lead, Leila Cobo, and an inspiring welcome speech delivered by writer Daniel Habif. “Let’s remember that now more than ever, we have to cooperate instead of competing,” Habif stressed, as he highlighted the importance of the week for the Latin music industry.
The jam-packed days ended with exclusive listening events and showcases, featuring Rauw Alejandro, Daddy Yankee, Anitta, Jay Wheeler and Natti Natasha. Chart-topping Puerto Rican artist Farruko previewed his unreleased album, La 167, in a no-phones-allowed private listening event for lucky participants.
We couldn’t pack every motivating, joyful and intimate moment into one write-up, but here are a few of the week’s most memorable moments. You can also check out panels and performances you may have missed at BillboardLatinMusicWeek.com.
Unity in Diversity
This year’s panels put identity at the center, highlighting the diverse Latino communities and experiences that bring richness to the ever-progressing culture. On Tuesday, podcast host Eder Díaz moderated a powerful discussion on the LGBTQ+ experience as a Latin act titled “Coming out Latin,” and Telemundo TV host Adamari López sat down with singer Natti Natasha for a mom-to-mom conversation on wellness, babies and superstardom. The following day was just as potent. Amazon Music LATIN presented the Women On The Rise panel highlighting artists from various genres and experiences, while late afternoon programming featured a live rendition of Billboard’s new series “Cultura Clash,” delving into the social justice issues most pressing for the Latino community today.
From Colombian power couple Greeicy and Mike Bahia to up-and-coming collaborators Rauw Alejandro and Myke Towers, Latin Week was filled with dynamic duos.” In one of the most endearing moments of the week, musician and talk show host extraordinaire Nicky Jam brought The Rockstar Show to the Billboard stage. His guest? Billboard Latin Music Award winning artist, Jhay Cortez. The two stars went back and forth sharing stories, boasting each other’s achievements and, at one point, leaning in and telling secrets too personal for the audience to hear. “You’ve always treated me the same since the first day,” Cortez told Nicky. “I see you as an older brother. Your generation is the one that created the path so that everything would be easier for us.”
Tech & Music
Amazon Music LAT!N spearheaded a conversation on “Livestreaming in an Amazon World” with label heads and artists alike, to discuss opportunities to engage with fans in an increasingly digital world on platforms like Twitch. Streaming platforms were also a hot topic, with programs like “The Streaming Equation,” a panel including musicians, producers and managers alike, discussing artists’ rights to streaming dollars and technology’s impact on the creative process. Other panels covered everything from how to get written up and covered by Billboard and working social media to bolster your music, to in-depth networking sessions with key industry executives and power players, including Pablo Ahogado of Concord Music Publishing, Tania Dorantes of Facebook and live entertainment executive, Daniel Merino. Another noteworthy tech-moment? Lunay, Chris Jedi and Gaby creating a hit song from top to bottom in front of a live audience for the Amazon Music LATIN sponsored “Making a Hit” masterclass.
The All-Stars Tell All
This year’s star-studded Q&As included chats with Anitta, Karol G, Daddy Yankee, Tainy, and Will.i.am, to name a few. Billboard’s Latin producer of the year, Tainy, sat down with Cobo, sharing moments from his 15-year journey from an upstart to a game-charger, and highlighting the importance of hip-hop, crossover music and being a “chameleon.” Later, Latin pop sensation Karol G got cozy in the hot seat, where she sang an impromptu acapella rendition of her chart-topping hit, “Tusa,” and exclusively announced her new single “Se Jodioto,” which dropped 30 minutes after her panel. Anitta’s conversation with Billboard’s Chelsea Briggs was non-stop laughter, as the Brazilian superstar dished out stories from her childhood, and answered questions from members of the audience. Another star to share about their childhood was Will.i.am, who discussed how growing up in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood shaped his life.
From dancing in the rain with Rauw Alejandro to the live marching band that drummed alongside an electrifying Daddy Yankee performance spanning fifteen year of hits, the week’s nightly showcases were unforgettable. Earlier in the week, conference-goers started off strong with a stylish performance from up-and-comer Jay Wheeler at LIV nightclub at Fontainebleau and later enjoyed AP Global’s “New Artist Showcase” featuring Fabiio, Joonti, Dvila and Ache.