Breakthrough star: Millennial acts have ensured the future of regional Mexican music, and cowboy-hatted Julión Alvarez leads the pack. Alvarez is currently Spotify Mexico’s No. 1 artist for 2015.
Big biz news: Mexican TV giant Televisa premiered the music reality show Me Pongo de Pie in April. Mexican stars Cristian Castro and Espinoza Paz and former Mecano vocalist Ana Torroja judge family members who sing together in the weekly competition.
Breakthrough star: Protest rapper Ana Tijoux was the top Spotify artist in Chile in 2014. Her latest album, the Grammy-nominated Vengo, ranked on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Albums and Top Latin Albums charts.
Big biz news: Chile passed a law in March to combat the globalization of the country’s radio stations. It requires 20 percent of all music on radio to be by Chilean artists and composers. Of that, 25 percent must be by emerging Chilean artists.
Breakthrough star: Hip-hop sensation Mozart La Para, whose streetwise image contrasts with the manicured looks of Dominican bachata stars. His single “Llegan los Montro Men” is in the top 20 of Billboard‘s Latin Rhythm and Tropical Songs charts.
Big biz news: The Dominican version of the familiar dembow beat, as heard in reggaetón, has taken over youth culture. It’s fast (120 BPM) and has roots in ’80s and ’90s raggamuffin.
Breakthrough star: Reggaetón artist Farruko ascended the Latin charts through collaborations with Sean Paul and J Balvin, but the 23-year-old has quickly made his solo mark. A finalist in six Billboard Latin Music Awards categories this year, Farruko has just been signed by Sony Music Latin.
Big biz news: The opening of the 18,000-seat El Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot took the island from a provincial hotbed for Latin music to a competitive live entertainment destination. Upcoming shows include Madonna, Imagine Dragons, Chayanne and the latest Puerto Rican pride, pop singer Pedro Capó.
Breakthrough star: Madrid-based Vetusta Morla’s gold-certified album La Deriva and sold-out concerts — attended by some 250,000 fans since 2014 — have confirmed Vetusta Morla as Spain’s most important rock band.
Big biz news: Spain achieved its first year-over-year gain in music sales in more than a decade in 2014, showing that digital services had successfully provided an alternative to rampant piracy.
Breakthrough star: Popular trio Chocquibtown has gone back to the studio — and its tropical funk roots — for a new May 5 album on Sony Music Latin.
Big biz news: Bogotá Music Market, a state-backed conference whose intention is to make Colombia a center for Latin music business, will celebrate its fourth edition in September. The Colombian capital was named a Unesco City of Music in 2012.
Breakthrough star: Singer Ronald Borjas, Venezuela’s top radio artist of 2014, pleases crowds with salsa-pop sounds tailor-made for a country where tropical dance genres rule.
Big biz news: Digital revenue grew a remarkarkable 272.8 percent in Venezuela in 2014, according to IFPI.
Breakthrough star: Duo Jorge & Mateus is the latest chart-topping act to feed Brazilians’ continuous hunger for the homegrown country music called sertaneja. The genre came to international ears with Michel Telo’s “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” and continues to dominate Brazilian radio.
Big biz news: With Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Ultra Music, Sonar and other electronic music festivals spawning Brazilian editions, the country has become a capital of EDM. More than 28 million Brazilians attended electronic music events in 2014, according to reports from the 2015 Rio Music Conference.
Breakthrough star: The rootsy sophistication of Chancha via Circuito (aka Pedro Canale) makes clear why electronic-folk fusions are the new beat of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires.
Big biz news: Disney Latin America’s No. 1-rated teen show, Violetta, has ended its third and final season, leaving a rising star in its wake: Eighteen-year-old Argentine singer Martina Stroessel (who recorded the Frozen theme for the Latin American soundtrack) has been compared to fellow Argentine Lionel Messi for her fame throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
Breakthrough star: The nine-piece Uruguayan indie-rock band No Te Va Gustar has been around for two decades, but it is now enjoying “overnight success,” with platinum sales in the southern cone of its critically celebrated 2014 release, El Tiempo Otra Vez Avanza.
Big biz news: Uruguay is a tiny country with big talent, supported by the govenment: Eight Uruguayan bands traveled to Austin in March to play South by Southwest.